Sunday 15 March 2020

zoonosis or jumping the shark

Though we would be wrong to blame bats or any other wildlife for bringing illness where it is our behaviours that invite in and exacerbate the spread of new disease, it is worth considering how our chiroptera friends have evolved an immune system parallel and attendant to the corona viruses that have accompanied them for countless generations.
As flying mammals, a lot of their metabolic processes are given over to keeping them aloft and because of the stress, wear and tear that come with it, their immune system is more tolerant of infections and endures them rather than reacting in a violent, exclusionary manner. Humans, on the other hand, with little exposure to such pathogens—bats being themselves nearly as mobile and wide-ranging as people—have a hyper-vigilant approach to combating contagion which has normally served us well but can result in a life-threating condition called sepsis when the immune response is pushed into overdrive and harms the internal organs and tissues. There isn’t much that one can do to alter those sorts of responses but there are a host of pre-emptive measures that are even more effective—like maintaining one’s distance and proper hand-washing that’s not a duck-and-cover exercise as a little soap and elbow grease and discipline out of the consideration of the wellbeing of others, especially for the vulnerable among us does chemically wreck the virus and commute it towards something harmless, keeping healthy in general and getting vaccinations and immunizations as prescribed even if the glamourous cure we are waiting for does not seem so commiserate with the chore of prevention. The inflammatory reaction that follow the onset of infection can result in pneumonia and low blood flow and proves fatal—from all causes of septic shock, for about ten million worldwide per year. A number far greater, like the pathology of season influenza often cited, than the number of case of the corona virus likely to prove deadly but maybe that signals that it is time that we find all these numbers unacceptable and work towards societal and medical interventions to reduce its occurrence.