Last Active
  • Coronavirus / COVID-19

    redlancer said:
    JaimieT said:
    redlancer said:
    JaimieT said:
    God, can you imagine if this thing had a 10% or 20% death rate? Or 50%? Then I'd feel more dread. Ugh, that would be miserable, the waiting. 

    From what I understand that actually makes the virus not spread, the people who get it die too fast before they can pass on the virus. That's why ebola and bird flu hasn't wiped out the world. This one seems like the sweet spot of very contagious but mild enough symptoms that take quite a while to show (if at all). 

    I need to go buy a dust mask at the hardware store to do some drywall sanding this weekend, hopefully you guys haven't bought them all yet...  :)

    edit  --  nm, you guys did take them all. I blame all of you for my eventual silicosis and lung cancer...

    NGL, this doesn't make any sense to me at all. People aren't contagious after they fought it off. Also there's variances in the incubation/contagious period. Also the game Pandemic!

    I... don't think this is a broad truth you're talking about.
    It's that it takes quite a while before you show symptoms and even then usually aren't very severe, but you're spreading the virus the whole time. Very similar to regular flu/cold.

    The 'deadly' viruses you catch, get sick, and die before spreading. Seems to be an evolutionary trait of regular human viruses that they don't want to kill the host, they want to spread. It's these new viruses that jump from animal to human that can be the super dangerous ones since they didn't evolve with our species (but don't spread far because they kill the host too quickly). 

    At least that's what the random articles the last month seem to point out. Now that we have a resident virologist would love to hear their take on pathogen mortality rate vs spreading capabilities.

    Are you talking about me?  Epidemiologist, but close enough!  I am here!  OK, so how quickly a disease spreads is dependent on how contagious it is in general and how contagious it is relative to how it is transmitted and when someone starts to show symptoms.  So for instance, flu peak infectiousness is usually one day before you show symptoms to about 5 to 7 days after and it spreads via droplets (coughing, sneezing, talking etc. on to a person or a surface, etc.). That causes about 2 cases for every one person with the flu (this number is called the R-naught or the viral reproductive rate, btw)

    Ebola can only be transmitted through bodily fluids and is only contagious once they develop symptoms.  In an outbreak situation, you treat everyone with a high fever as possibly infected so you just avoid bodily fluids. The reason these outbreaks hang on in rural Africa is burial practices. People ritually wash the body of the deceased and it is hard to be culturally sensitive yet informative. A conversation for another time.  We will likely never have community spread of Ebola unless that virus develops the ability to be transmitted through droplets (read about Ebola Reston if you want to have nightmares.  It has once made that jump but only infected Monkeys).  H5N1, bird flu, is notoriously bad at human to human transmission.  Transmits really efficiently from birds to humans, but not so well between humans which is why currently, we haven't had a major outbreak.  This is the one that keeps epidemiologists up at night. 

    Then you have something like measles; also spread by droplet but crazy contagious before people start to develop the rash.  For every one case of that, on average you see 12 to 16!   Luckily, it seems that coronavirus is following a similar pattern of transmission to flu.  Contagious from right before symptoms start to about 7 to 10 day mark (resolution of symptoms in a normal case).  From what I have read, about 80% are cases are fairly mild and by that time, people are staying home. The initial R-naughts that had come out of China were between 2 and 4, but that has come down to about 2-2.5 since it has moved to less densely populated areas.  What is complicating this is there is evidence that there are people who seem to be carriers (never develop symptoms), and people with extremely mild disease, who are serving as community spreaders. This is why we are starting to see cases with no travel history and no cause that makes sense.  

    The type of outbreak that proverbially keeps me up at night is, lets say measles decides it wants to be a mass murderer.  Essentially measles and H5N1's love child.  A disease with a relatively long incubation period (measles), spreads efficiently (MEASLES), high mortality rate (H5N1).  That happens, we are screwed. H5N1 could potentially make that jump if it picks up the the correct genes.  Flu is a virus that picks up gene in mixing vessels (human, pigs, birds - see above comment by @redlancer) which is why our body doesn't recognize them AT ALL and makes them so pathogenic (called antigenic shift).     

    So infectious epidemiology in a nutshell.  Sorry for any typos, trying to answer between meetings/grading.  
    cdrivebizmarkiefaderJaimieTMichelleMichaelGMrXFreddyDeeOliviaDNgongo121and 1 other.
  • Coronavirus / COVID-19

    Going to weigh in on the mask issue...  The reason why masks, in general, aren't usually recommended are 1) user error with the surgical masks and 2) the N95 masks (the ones with the vents) are usually overkill.  Unless we live in a densely populated city, we don't really come into contact with people coughing within 3-6 feet of us all that often so the N95 mask is overkill for most of the general population. They are best left for medical personnel. The surgical mask does let some air in so they aren't as effective as the N95 at keeping droplets from getting to your nasal passages/eyes, but largely because people don't pinch the nose thingy (technical term) down tight, tie knots in the elastic if you have a tiny pea head (like me) to keep it tight across the face, etc.  Also, the mask gives a false sense of security and people tend to fall right back into normal habits while wearing it, rubbing their eyes, poking their fingers under their mask to scratch an itch, etc. which defeats the purpose.  If you have touched something with the virus, you just contaminated the mask and introduced the virus to your face.  Lastly, when you get home, if the front of the mask is contaminated and you take it off incorrectly, i.e. grab it by the front and not the ear loops, you just contaminated your hands.  

    There is a quote in Contagion about the average person touching their face 2 or 3 thousand times a day.  That is the high end of the research, but it is high!  Minimum one thousand per day. I have shown this movie in my class a few times and it is hilarious to watch my students suddenly become hyper aware of the fact that they were all leaning their face on their hands while watching. This is where the masks can help, it reduces that number substantially, at least while you are in public, and gives the virus a chance to die and/or you can get to a place to wash your damn hands.  

    All that being said, if you ever find yourself taking care of someone with a highly contagions respiratory infection, GET  MASKS!  Put one on the patient so they aren't spewing virus everywhere when they cough and wear one yourself!

    A random aside, the is the first time in my 20 year career I don't have to explain to people what I do for a living.  Usually the conversation goes "Epidemiologist?  That's skin right?" Over 80k people sick, but I am finally relevant.
  • Coronavirus / COVID-19

    Friendly neighborhood epidemiologist here...  I teach infectious disease epidemiology so I have been following this from the jump.  Until today, I really haven't been all that concerned. 70k cases in a country with one billion people and cities with population densities that makes NYC look rural has resulted in a rate of 7 cases per 100,000 population. That is REALLY rare. Add to that a low mortality rate, we aren't looking at the 1918 flu pandemic which wiped out somewhere around 50+ million people.  But now, the CDC is announcing that it's on its way, San Francisco just declared a state of emergency (I know someone whose flight to SF was cancelled from Memphis?!?), I am with you, @cdrive, I am seriously going to start hoarding cold medicine and food. I have been through a "snow storm" here in the south...  Can't imagine what the threat of an "epidemic" would do to this city.  
  • The Big One— Facinating New Podcast

    I live on the New Madrid Fault, similarly thought to be overdue for a shake, and have already been through one disaster (front row seat for 9/11).  My biggest fear is that the NM seismic zone goes while I am living here.  Think I might skip this podcast.  Or listen, and become a prepper.  One or the other...
  • 4.10 Winner (Season Finale)

    From the back, Mike looks like one of those hairless cats. I realize this isn’t some profound observation, but I am watching alone and have no one else to share this with at the moment.