Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun Friendly Phobic Fact Friday.

"Science Is Fun and Useful"
by Jo

This is one of the most kickass videos I've ever seen. (1) Because this guy is awesome; (2) because the wisdom he imparts is true and important re: the viruses with the highest-known fatality rates; and (3) because this guy is awesome.

So let's do watch.

(Totally can't get it to embed AARRRRGGGHH)

Let's just start with his opening line, "There's a lot of stuff out there that's trying to kill us, right now, and today, I'm gonna talk about the ones that are the best at it. The Five Deadliest Infectious Diseases in the World."

The 10 minute 23 second video is worth your while; however, if you're all tl;dr? and you don't feel like watching the entire thing? Then let me just summarize, BumBumStyle:

  • The Spanish Flu (1917-1918) was a notorious infectious disease, also known as...wait for it...H1N1. It killed more than 30 million people worldwide. ( Now you may recall that in 2009 there was also mass hysteria over a resurgence of the pandemic H1N1, a.k.a. Swine Flu to the point that you could not find face masks or hand sani in any drugstore anywhere.) Anyway, the first outbreak had a case fatality rate of 20%, and apparently, 20% (!!) is so minor in the grand scheme of things that it's not even worth talking about. Bygones. Let's move on, shall we?

  • Let's take Nipah, which has an average case fatality rate of about 50% (other online sources claim up to 75%). It seems that around 1999, pig farmers started coming down with respiratory issues, and inflammation of the brain that caused hallucinations, along with seizures (and should you wonder, no, "not the good kind of seizures," according to SciShow). What.

Outbreaks continued in India and Bangladesh, the disease mainly spread by bats, at which point and in which place the death rate became around 100 mother fucking percent. Are you hearing me. 100%. 

And what's worse, you suddenly didn't need a got-damn bat or pig or a batpig or a pigbat to give you Nipah, you get could get it human-to-human. And then you'd fucking die. Dead. Deceased. Of a miserable death.


In 2001, in Siliguri, India, there were cases of Nipah where 75% of cases were traced back to people who had merely visited the local hospital. Just by being there. In that building. Just by, say, strolling in to give a loved one some pink carnations and a "Get Well Soon" Mylar balloon. Maybe a Peace Lily or two.

"Get well soon! I hope you recover from your Nipah! As if!"

Perhaps best of all, according to the WHO, there is no treatment or vaccine available for either humans or animals. Which might explain why up to 100% of the people infected die dead.
So that is of little interest to you. After all, you do not live in Siliguri, India. So let's talk about H5N1 (commonly known as Bird Flu). 

  • H5N1 didn't used to be easily transmissible to humans, but then scientists went and got all 10-year-old-boy on us and asked, "What would happen if I did this? Let's see if I can do this!! Let me dick around with something! What would happen if I did that? Let's fukkin' blow shit up, man!111@@!"

Apparently, this tinkering made flu transmissible to ferrets, which have (for some reason) the same immune system as humans. Which sucks because this newly and easily transmissible Bird Flu kills at least 54% of people who get it. For fuck's SAKE, ferrets?? Good times. 
There is a government vaccine available for H5N1, but it has apparently been stockpiled and is not available to the public. Good times.


And I quote: "Now Hank, you're saying I'm not a Malaysian bat-handler and I've already stocked my pantry with enough Skittles and Diet Sierra Mist to get me through the Bird Flu pandemic."

So in other words, I'm golden, right? Read on, friends, read on.

  • In 1967, Germany started testing polio vaccines on monkeys from Uganda. Suddenly the scientists came down with wicked fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, massive internal bleeding, and circulatory failure. Good times.

Corellation: Messing with monkey parts = contracting killer diseases. Quit poking around monkey parts, you zoophile.

After further investifuckingation, they eventually isolated the virus known as Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever.

In one year alone, 23% of the scientists exposed died. It shows up everywhere from Africa to the United States, where it kills more than 80%. EIGHTY. PER. CENT. Scientists say that Marburg Hemmorhagic Fever is "the #1 virus you most want to mother fucking got damn avoid," if I may paraphrase. Let's try to do that, people. Start by washing your damn dirty hands and then not messing with monkey parts. But I mean, there is more than one good reason never to mess with monkey parts. For one, that's a hell of a lot of bum-bum germs.

So even if you live in the USA, never handle bats, and have thousands of Snickers and gallons of Orange Crush available in your storm shelter, you are not safe from terrifying diseases.

  • A cousin of Marburg Fever is the Zaire Ebola virus (a.k.a. ZEBOV). It is the second most deadly disease in the world and causes everything from vomiting to fever to failure of blood vessels, which causes bleeding under the skin (groce).  ZEBOV has a mortality rate of 83%, and in the early 2000s, it killed more than 90% of the people infected. That's a shit of a lot, people.

  • As a sidenote, what do these all viruses (virii?) have in common?
All of these viruses are Zoonotic ("transmitted to humans from animals"). Especially from bats. Fuck you, bats. I hate you in the face.

For these and other reasons, let's just avoid adopting your local neighborhood Battus Vampirus, even though it may be precious and have a cute little snout and you want to name it Edward.

Back to our regularly scheduled program about shit what will kill you.

So, after reading about ZEBOV, you're probably wondering, what disease is deadlier than 90% fatal?? This may surprise you, my peeps.

The deadliest disease in the world is not influenza, is not typhoid, is not dysentery,

...but is rabies, with case fatality rate of, oh, you know, whatever, about 100%. Bygones.

What? Like, Spiffy my sweet little Labradoodle can kill my ass? Or rather, what: like, sweet little Cujo can go from this

to this

and I won't have a chance in heaven once symptoms present?

You're saying that man's best friend can harbor the greatest plague known to humanity? Even though there's a vaccine and shit?

Yes, there is a vaccine, but once you've been diagnosed with the symptoms of the disease, you face almost certain death. There is a case fatality rate of p. much 100%.

According to Science Guy, there have been fewer than 10 recorded cases EVER IN THE HISTORY EVER OF THE ENTIRE WORLD EVER of people who have EVER been diagnosed with rabies and who have EVER lived to tell about it. Ever.

Apparently it's a terrible way to go: Early flu-like symptoms, then it targets your central nervous system, and you become agitated, delirious, and have seizures. Then you will experience paralysis, especially of the throat and jaw, making it difficult to swallow liquids (which is why patients avoid water and which is why rabies is known as hydrophobia). Ma! He's got The Hydrophobe!!

Old Yeller,
Come back Yeller,

Best doggone dog in the West.

With rabies, your pulse and blood pressure will vary wildly, and along with other v. unpleasant symptoms like acute pain and mania, then you will experience coma and heart failure respiratory failure and death. 100% of the time.

And although bats have caused all kinds of other really, really bad shit (see above), they usually get a bad rap when it comes to rabies.  Everyone is all, "OMG OMG IT'S A BAT it's going to get stuck in my hair and bite me and I will get the rabies! OMG BATS!" But actually, about 97% of cases in humans come from dog bites. Out, out damn Spot!


This ends your science lesson for the day and your very extensive Fun Friendly Phobic Fact Friday.



  1. So...what I'm hearing is...are you SUUUUUURE you don't want to come caving with me?

  2. Found your blog through... somewhere? I think I was looking up how to clean something. I hope you don't mind that I thought I'd follow!

    My biggest fear EVER, since I was a kid, is rabies. Maybe the fact that there's nothing you can do once your diagnosed. You're dead for sure. I've always been terrified of it since I read about it in an encyclopedia (although why I was looking up rabies, I don't know.) I had to get rabies shots as a kid because a strange dog came onto the playground at school and bit me. DNW.

    1. Always glad to have new followers! :)

      And eeeeek at the rabies shots. Were they as bad as they sound?

    2. I remember it being pretty awful. I was in 4th grade, so it was... gosh, 13 years ago? So it could be one of those things that you remember being worse than it was. But I'm pretty sure it actually was pretty terrible.

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