Ebola

Ebola virions through an electron microscope.The word is enough to freeze your possibly hemorrhaging blood, isn’t it? Or make you glad you (or someone you know) aren’t in West Africa. My first thought when learning of the two U.S. citizens recently transported here for medical care was ‘I’m glad I’m not on that plane.’ But unlike SARS or the flu, the Ebola virus can’t be transmitted through the air; the only way to catch it is “through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of an infected symptomatic person or through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions” (Q&A on Ebola from the Centers for Disease Control, which has much more information about the current outbreak on its website).

[Edited to add 11/28/14:] Multnomah County's Health Department has a page with resources and links providing information a little closer to home).

Comforting for those of us in the first world, but not much use to those on the front lines, who won’t even seek medical attention because the hospital is where people go to die.

If you’re in the mood for some not-so-light reading, here are some suggestions.

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