Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bye-Bye Rinderpest, Hello Venezuela

It is with a heavy heart and tear in the eye that the world has learned that it won't have Rinderpest to kick around any more. Good bye Rinderpest. It seems we of the twenty-first century hardly knew ya. Considering you were made of genetic material like us, your eradication and extinction somehow seems wrong. Maybe some of your kind is still hanging out somewhere, like maybe Plum Island, New York. Although no one really knows what kinds of bacteriologic, virologic and other ****logic stuff the USA stores there, just maybe the Rinderpest virus (RPV) has a nice warm incubator to relax in.

In German the words rinder and pest connotate the English "cattle plague". Historical records evidence cattle plagues, Rinderpest, beginning in the 1700's. This probably was related in part to increased herding and the more frequent use of cattle for sustenance. As the herds got bigger, the chances of an epidemic became more likely. Outbreaks and plagues affected England, Europe and Africa. Common bovine symptoms included fever, nasal discharges, oral and intestinal and genital ulcers, appetite loss, constipation followed by diarrhea and death within 6-12 days.

The plagues were mostly fatal since the cattle themselves exhibited minimal natural immunity to the offending Morbillivirus. Although this virus is sensitive to sunlight, dessication and heat, it was, nonetheless an efficient killer. Transmission of the virus was by direct contact, infected secretions and even air. Although not done or reported, cattle masks might have been efficient disease diminishers. Just look at what mask use did for the 2009-2010 swine flu epidemic in Obama's America. The only problem with the use of cow's masks is keeping them on and keeping them dry. Cattle are not as smart as people.

Beginning in the early 19th century crude attempts at immunization through vaccination began and were pursued in earnest. Rinderpest advanced injection immunology science and the cattle plague lent a hand in the development of among other things, smallpox vaccination. Dr. Walter Plowright received kudos for his work in creating the ultimate, most effective Rinderpest vaccine. In 1999, Plowright was awarded the World Food Prize

for his brilliant contribution to the welfare of civilization. Interestingly, smallpox is the ONLY other completely eradicated viral pathogen in the history of man. The Food and Agriculture Organization predicted that Rinderpest would be gone by 2010 and bingo, the FAO was right in the blowhole on that one. So no more small pox and no more Rinderpest.

Come to think of it, both the USA and Russia still have some smallpox virus somewhere. Probably frozen or attenuated or something like that. Shucks, somebody has to have the Rinderpest stowed away too, maybe one or two of the BRIC countries?

It's probably best to spread these kinds of organisms around so that everybody comes to the table with a hand to play. Oh never count out Iran, Israel and the Middle East as a whole. No telling there. Who could forget Iraq? WMD? Biologic agents? Yikes!

So after all of this, Rinderpest is gone, FOREVER. Cattle everywhere can gas play, up and back, in a secure state of confidence. Humans can rest assured their supplies of beef, beef products and beef jerky will continue to be available for gustatory and other enjoyment, not the least of which is cold in winter and hot in summer car seats. With the ability to control our viral "cugini", humans can create a better life for themselves. Indeed.

The porn industry in the United States was shut down 48 hours ago. A male peformer was diagnosed with AIDS. No new pornos are in production. Luckily the studios have huge backloads of footage, as yet unreleased, to distribute while everyone is checked and double checked for the retrovirus. Some worriment was expressed initially since the loss of fresh porno would likely result in a pent up need for product. A commentator on CNBC was wondering if the AIDS virus would ever be eradicated. Like smallpox and Rinderpest. "Oh", she mused, "there's a Plowright somewhere who will do the job." When asked who would be awarded the last few samples of the soon to be eradicated porn industry paralyzing virus, she simply said, "Venezuela".


And so it goes.

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