Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sizing Up the Viral Threat

Soulskill posted 1 year,28 days | from the keep-that-facemelting-plague-away-from-me dept.

Medicine 78

sciencehabit writes "Ebola, HIV, influenza, MERS. Plenty of animal viruses cause devastating diseases in humans. But nature might have many more in store. In a new study, U.S. researchers estimate that there are more than 320,000 unknown viruses lurking in mammals alone (abstract). Identifying all the viruses in mammals would be a huge boon to scientists and epidemiologists, Daszak says. If an animal virus begins spreading to humans, they could use the new sequences to quickly pinpoint its source. In the lab, they could study the newfound viruses to see which are most likely to jump to humans and then prepare vaccines or drugs, he says. 'It would be the beginning of the end for pandemics.' A complete viral inventory would also carry a hefty price tag: about $6.3 billion, the authors estimate. 'But you have to put that into perspective,' says Daszak, pointing to the 2003 SARS outbreak. That pandemic alone is estimated to have cost between $15 billion and $50 billion in economic losses."

cancel ×

78 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Smaller set? (4, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751399)

Since most viruses seem to hop from common mammals or birds (cow, pig, chicken, etc. - e.g., "Guns Germs Steel"), have we at least indexed those already?

Re:Smaller set? (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751559)

Nope. We haven't even gotten a reasonable index of the various varieties of influenza, either porcine or avian. For that matter, I'm not really sure they've managed to collect all the different varieties of flu extant just in humans.

Re:Smaller set? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753435)

That resource (sum total of all researcher's time and equipment) is finite and hard to grow. At present based on the limited information I have on this subject my best guess is those resources are allocated based on evidence for what is causing the most amount of death and suffering for humanity, and that those causes of death and suffering are far more compelling as items to research, document, and manage than a working database of all the potential viruses from the sources mentioned. This is not to say that these things can't be harmful, just that the other things are many and known and compelling as things to address right now in a way that these potential viruses are not.

Cat Flu (1)

WillgasM (1646719) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751411)

Do I really need to bore you all with my cat flu story again?

Re:Cat Flu (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751795)

No.

Re: Cat Flu (3, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752181)

Are you Ted Nugent by any chance?

What could possibly go wrong? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751415)

If an animal virus begins spreading to humans, they could use the new sequences to quickly pinpoint its source.

And quickly verify that patient zero was a virologist.

Vaccines... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751419)

That's all fine and dandy and all, but remember, people are getting so stupid that they think vaccines are more sinister than the viral diseases they can prevent. Lets solve the problem of stupid people first, or just let them all die of measles++.

Re:Vaccines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753265)

I think what you are seeing is growing lack of trust in governments to do things in each person's best interest. Vaccines are just a good example of when it really comes down to it.

Re:Vaccines... (2)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,28 days | (#44753421)

Vaccines are examples where the government very clearly is doing things that are in everyone's best interest.

Re:Vaccines... (1)

techsimian (2555762) | 1 year,27 days | (#44757735)

The anti-vax movement is not a good example. Vaccines are produced by the medical/pharmaceutical industry and are administered by the healthcare industry.

What you describe is a trend whereby some in the population see any challenge to their world view as a conspiracy. It isn't enough to say they disagree, they concoct an expansive conspiracy against which they will make their heroic stand.

When Not If (3, Insightful)

wrackspurt (3028771) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751423)

It's not really a question of if we'll complete such an inventory but when. A few days ago /. ran a story on the myth of STEM human resources being scarce, so it's not like we lack the people or the resources. It's just a question of allocation. Over our short personal lifespans we see so much that should be done and think it should be done ASAP, but really, if you look at the enormous strides we've made in the last 100 years, or more to the point, the last 50 years we've surpassed all previous human eras of progressive achievement. The Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment pale by comparison.

Time is of the essence... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751429)

"A complete viral inventory would also carry a hefty price tag: about $6.3 billion, the authors estimate."

Better hurry, since if we wait 10 or 20 years, that price tag might only be a couple of million. Think of the authors, who have new shoes to buy!

Life's a risk, you live, you die. Society can't handle the costs of current increases to lifetimes. Extending lives is not a de facto good thing.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751527)

Better hurry, since if we wait 10 or 20 years, that price tag might only be a couple of million.

Maybe they already took that into account. Analogies fail me at the moment, but I can just picture them spending years building up this huge inventory only to look back and see most of them have either disappeared or mutated in unexpected ways, so they have to start all over again.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752127)

Painting the Forth Bridge.

Speaking of bridges... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,27 days | (#44756027)

The summary mentions a $6.3 billion cost for this virus inventory. To put that into perspective, that's about the same amount of money that it took to build the new Bay Bridge [wikipedia.org] in California.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751661)

Also in 10 or 20 years that could be as outdated as the ENIAC. Not sure about viruses, but at least bacterias had been very successful developing antibiotic resistance, specially with the abuse we are doing with antibiotics and antibacterials agents. And new findings will lead to more ways to protect yourself (and knowing economics, will be sold as much as possible, leading to abuses), and so more ways to adapt around those protections.

Re:Time is of the essence... (3, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751705)

but at least bacterias had been very successful developing antibiotic resistance

Which might be precisely the motivation to further our knowledge in the field of virology - even resistant bacteria can be killed with targeted phage therapy.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751683)

Society can't handle the costs of current increases to lifetimes.

Fortunately, there are benefits as well to current increases in lifespan. Those benefits are considerable enough to offset the costs.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751783)

References? Getting old so you can get Alzheimers or other forms of dementia, or simply be a non-productive burden on an "entitlement" society, is good?

Re:Time is of the essence... (3, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752085)

Getting old so you can get Alzheimers or other forms of dementia, or simply be a non-productive burden on an "entitlement" society, is good?

When does that occur? According to this book [google.com] , the incident of dementia increases at great age. Only 5% of people over the age of 65 have clinical dementia. This goes up to almost 50% at age 95. It significantly increases when one gets past the mean lifespan for a person. I suspect that if we had done this study at the beginning of the last century, we'd see that far lower ages would have similar dementia rates (say subtracting twenty years off).

Re: Time is of the essence... (1)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752299)

If you don't have any references to support your position, just say so, instead of trying to change the discussion.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752829)

When does that occur? According to this book [google.com] , the incident of dementia increases at great age. Only 5% of people over the age of 65 have clinical dementia. This goes up to almost 50% at age 95. It significantly increases when one gets past the mean lifespan for a person.

Talk about not getting it. Consider the end result, not the numerical years.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752901)

Consider the end result

The end result is that you die either way. Since the end result doesn't change, then it's not useful as a means of distinguishing between choices.

Re:Time is of the essence... (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,27 days | (#44757225)

Consider the end result

The end result is that you die either way. Since the end result doesn't change, then it's not useful as a means of distinguishing between choices.

My goal is to live as long as possible as sentient and self reliant as possible. My fear is that some set of circumstances may not allow me to make my choice. After watching parents and others have their assets drained while they were kept alive by some odd and intensive measures - like an Alzehiemer's patient's dementia being dragged out by drugs that slow the progression, but not do a thing about the dementia itself - in other words they still didn't know who they or anyone around them, even if it did make them live a couple years longer. I have no intention of taking part in that game.

If you think that there is no distinguishing between choices of slow lingering death with 24/7 nursing care, and an admittedly shorter lifespan, but circumventing that lingering decline, well, perhaps you haven't had enough people you know go through it, and finally having to make the decision to end life support. We have turned the end of life into torture for all involved.

But it is quite profitable.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,27 days | (#44761897)

If you think that there is no distinguishing between choices of slow lingering death with 24/7 nursing care, and an admittedly shorter lifespan, but circumventing that lingering decline,

That's not an end result. Thus, it doesn't have a special consideration over other things, such as the number of years of good health.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,27 days | (#44762051)

That's not an end result. Thus, it doesn't have a special consideration over other things, such as the number of years of good health.

Seriously? My Mother in law spent the last ten years not knowing who or where she was. Her body was kept alive those last ten years. For all practical purposes, the "her" of who she was died shortly before she was put in the home.

And most very respectfully it has the entirety of my consideration over other things. You may not like that, but you cannot determine what my consideration is.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,27 days | (#44762165)

Seriously? My Mother in law spent the last ten years not knowing who or where she was. Her body was kept alive those last ten years. For all practical purposes, the "her" of who she was died shortly before she was put in the home.

And most very respectfully it has the entirety of my consideration over other things. You may not like that, but you cannot determine what my consideration is.

Ok, but your consideration means little to me. There's always sad stories to support whatever you desire. How many peoples' lives and whose lives should we end prematurely to prevent something like what happened to your mother?

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,27 days | (#44762553)

Ok, but your consideration means little to me. There's always sad stories to support whatever you desire. How many peoples' lives and whose lives should we end prematurely to prevent something like what happened to your mother?

Mother in law, not mother. Termination of life should be up to the individual,or family, not "We". Because when "We" get involved, we end up with Terry Schiavo, And we end up with presidents flying home to prevent a woman who's brain was replaced with cerebrospinal fluid and was totally maintained by machinery. Funny how politics works.

Considering the completely immoral political intervention in what should have been a privat family affair, and the Katriina hurricane happening around the same time, and the callous disregard shown by the government to thinking living people, I've often mused how if Schiavo was in New Orleans at the time of th estorm, that Air Force One might have been flown down to recue this dead woman kept alive by machines while healthy people drowned. Sanctity of life, you know.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752779)

or simply be a non-productive burden on an "entitlement" society

Good point. If you like, we can make sure you never make it to that stage of your life. Power of example and all.

Re:Time is of the essence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44754111)

References? Getting old so you can get Alzheimers or other forms of dementia, or simply be a non-productive burden on an "entitlement" society, is good?

Yes, but then it will transfer focus of our medical research onto solving that problem. Given time, humans will maximize both the lifespan and working age span. On the flip side, though, retirement will vanish. We'll work until we just catastrophically fail from sudden coincidence of multiple factors.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#44754611)

Runner! BZAPP

Re:Time is of the essence... (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752817)

Fortunately, there are benefits as well to current increases in lifespan. Those benefits are considerable enough to offset the costs.

Well, Nursing home profits are through the roof. Senile people need places to live.

But in all seriousness, if you've ever seen the inside of these places, with people spending the last 10-15 years of their lives in diapers, drooling and not knowing who they or their relatives are, I'd take an earlier death rather than an extra 15 years as a dementia patient.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,27 days | (#44755331)

I'd take an earlier death rather than an extra 15 years as a dementia patient.

False dichotomy. Indeed, if you extend your life, you're probably also improving your health in earlier stages. You can just commit suicide when you're done, if you have the intestinal fortitude.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | 1 year,27 days | (#44756627)

You can just commit suicide when you're done, if you have the intestinal fortitude.

Not if you want your life insurance to pay out.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,27 days | (#44757481)

Not if you want your life insurance to pay out.

Yeah, because that 10 thousand dollar llfe insurance policy matches up well to the healthcare system draining your bank account and throwing you and your family into bankruptcy.

The problem with the years we've added to our lifespan aretwofold. One is that people die from a lot less accidents, so on average, it makes everyone live longer. The second is that the real part of that extension of average lifespan is all on the wrong end - extreme old age. If I could have an extra 30 years of my 20s and 30's - hey sign me up! But that isn't where the magic happens. With two of my families parents, their decline was extended, one by almost 10 years. the other only several. They are part of the great average lifespan extension. Bedridden, incontinent, demented. But hey, modern medicine helped them live longer - Gotta be a good thing.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,27 days | (#44757273)

I'd take an earlier death rather than an extra 15 years as a dementia patient.

False dichotomy. Indeed, if you extend your life, you're probably also improving your health in earlier stages. You can just commit suicide when you're done, if you have the intestinal fortitude.

Silly Drinkypoo - sorry, that's just fun to say - I think I'm going to nickname my wife "Silly DrinkyPoo" - I offer that as possibilities, not an either or situation. Everyone obviously dies of something If I had a massive heart attack, I wouldn't exactly be happy about it, but as I winked out, I would probably consider that a better end than what some reletives have gone through.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,27 days | (#44756515)

My grandmother died with Alzheimer's a few years ago, and my grandfather is 94 and will be in a nursing home the rest of his life. Rosa and I decided quite a while ago that when life isn't fun any more then it's time for it to end. I sometimes wonder how many cases of elderly people driving off a cliff or into a river are actually suicides.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752807)

Life's a risk, you live, you die.

There is no risk - it's guaranteed you'll die.

BTW, are you a consistent fellow who thinks we should abandon all public health and safety measures, since life's a risk and we're all going to die anyway?

Society can't handle the costs of current increases to lifetimes.

Cite? Calculation?

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | 1 year,26 days | (#44769169)

There is no risk - it's guaranteed you'll die.

BTW, are you a consistent fellow who thinks we should abandon all public health and safety measures, since life's a risk and we're all going to die anyway?

Well, that sheds a little light into your ... thinking.

Re:Time is of the essence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753033)

"Society can't handle the costs of current increases to lifetimes. Extending lives is not a de facto good thing."

Your life maybe, and all the other slacker dead-beats leaches on society out there.

I, on the other hand, am such a productive and contributing member of society that it would be absolute tragedy if I wasn't given at least six lifetimes to better and enrich the lives around me. In fact immortality might not even be enough - perhaps a constellation of my clones... but then they might all wear out at the same time. I've got it - how about a continual production of new me's? That way the new me's can replace the old warn out ones. Perhaps even through in some mechanism for improvement over time.

Re:Time is of the essence... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753085)

I, on the other hand, am such a productive and contributing member of society that it would be absolute tragedy if I wasn't given at least six lifetimes to better and enrich the lives around me.

I had a friend who had your arrogance.

He thought his genetic makeup was so superior that he literally owed it to the world to have children.

His first child was profoundly autistic.

Arrogance is sometimes met with a harsh response in reality, you see.

Frankly I hope you are dead soon, because you sound like a real asshole,
and there is an oversupply of those in the world.

Re:Time is of the essence... (1)

kermidge (2221646) | 1 year,28 days | (#44753817)

While it took money to write the algorithms and manage the projects, the use of World Community Grid for the genome comparison project and human proteome folding one and two got a lot of work done affordably, according to the projects' authors. I'd think similar approach could help here.

Re:Time is of the essence... (2)

delt0r (999393) | 1 year,27 days | (#44754395)

Speak for yourself. I intend to live forever, or die trying.

Wishful Thinking (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751441)

In the lab, they could study the newfound viruses to see which are most likely to jump to humans and then prepare vaccines or drugs, he says. 'It would be the beginning of the end for pandemics.'

No, it would just be yet another volley in the endless war of attrition that is the evolution of species... but I like your optimism.

Re:Wishful Thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751485)

"Life something something" - Jeff Goldblum in leather pants

Re:Wishful Thinking (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751779)

We aren't playing by the rules any more. We're _thinking_ about how to eradicate disease. In one generation we can come up with a plan, execute it, and see if it worked, whereas evolution takes many generations for each phase.

Multicellular parasites probably took millions of years to figure out how to parasatise our distant ancestors, and have been evolving along with us ever since... until the last couple of centuries when we've begun systematically killing them off. Guinea Worm is almost gone for example, there are less Guinea Worms (we're their only adult stage host) than there are tigers in the world and while we're actively protecting tigers we have a multi-million dollar world programme to drive the Guinea Worm extinct.

Most diseases targeted for world eradication today are human diseases, there are half a dozen or so, plus we already killed off one human (Smallpox) and one non-human (Rinderpest) disease organism. But in the richer industrialised countries where dozens of illnesses were already eradicated (we almost got Measles, if not for the stupid half-fit antivacc people we'd have done it in Europe and North America) there are also cattle and pet diseases being wiped out.

Re:Wishful Thinking (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752725)

But, but, but ... you don't understand! Wise and thoughtful Slashdot posters realize we'll never be completely successful, so let's not toot our horns about what we have done.

Re:Wishful Thinking (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,28 days | (#44753505)

You're not with the party line. God created all those diseases in six days. You want to go up against God? It takes us years to wipe out a disease and he can have a new one for you in six days.

Re:Wishful Thinking (1)

rmstar (114746) | 1 year,28 days | (#44754175)

We aren't playing by the rules any more. We're _thinking_ about how to eradicate disease. In one generation we can come up with a plan, execute it, and see if it worked, whereas evolution takes many generations for each phase.

There are no rules. The game is called "survival of the fittest", and that really is it.

Re:Wishful Thinking (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,27 days | (#44757111)

We aren't playing by the rules any more. We're _thinking_ about how to eradicate disease. In one generation we can come up with a plan, execute it, and see if it worked, whereas evolution takes many generations for each phase.

There are no rules. The game is called "survival of the fittest", and that really is it.

Came to give this exact same response, thanks for beating me to it.

Disease control is just like security - every time someone builds a better lock, someone else comes along and builds a better lockpick. Only in this case, "someone else" is the entire universe.

go ahead, make my end-of-days (0)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751471)

Hey, I have a great idea. Let spend lots of money because some "scientists" claim to have a count of something they also say is unknown. And lets give them that money to "study the newfound viruses to see which are most likely to jump to humans". I'm sure that could never end up being abused.

Re:go ahead, make my end-of-days (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751589)

Hey, I have an idea. Let's all firmly lodge our heads up our asses and make believe that not studying potential health threats means there won't be any health threats.

Re:go ahead, make my end-of-days (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752839)

Hey, I have an idea. Let's all firmly lodge our heads up our asses and make believe that not studying potential health threats means there won't be any health threats.

Don't want to do that. Sticking one's head up their own ass would expose them to a lot of germs.

Re:go ahead, make my end-of-days (3, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752689)

lets give them that money to "study the newfound viruses to see which are most likely to jump to humans". I'm sure that could never end up being abused.

Give me a call when that "abuse" is up to 0.1% of our spending on the military-industrial complex, the educational-industrial complex, or bonuses for running successful scams in finance.

Re:go ahead, make my end-of-days (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44754135)

Ah, but we can bundle it all together!

OR.... (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751501)

So when a new disease presents itself we can identify it, sequence it, compare that sequence to a library to find out what animal it probably came from, then use the sequence to make a vaccine.

OR

When a new disease presents itself we can identify it, sequence it, then use the sequence to make a vaccine. It seems like the library only helps to find the animal it originated in, and we don't really seem to have trouble doing that quickly for most of the big, pandemic-causing viruses.

Re:OR.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751749)

I'm pretty sure you can't just "use the sequence to make the vaccine".

Re:OR.... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | 1 year,28 days | (#44753523)

Definitely not, or we'd have had a vaccine for everything that we thought was a priority years ago. HIV, anyone?

Re:OR.... (1)

cusco (717999) | 1 year,27 days | (#44756721)

Doesn't actually work that way, it's very difficult to predict what the immune system's reaction to a particular sequence of proteins will be, and even more difficult to predict how efficient that response will be. If we can look at the animal where the disease originated, such as a pig, and see how the pig's immune system had developed appropriate responses and what their efficacy is **THEN** we'll have an idea what our vaccine needs to look like.

Re:OR.... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | 1 year,27 days | (#44761145)

I'm not an expert in vaccines so I'll ask: are you making that up? Because it certainly sounds like you are. I don't see how knowing the reservoir would help you make anything but a subunit vaccine, and despite the obvious advantages those haven't exactly taken over. Not to mention if you want one fast you're not going to screw around with subunits. If you DID want to do that for some reason, as I said before, it doesn't seem to take long to find the reservoir in most pandemic situations.

A dictionary of viruses doesn't seem like it would be useful for vaccines or treatment. It would be useful for prevention in some odd situations like a recent one in the middle east where people were getting sick from a virus carried by camels imported from Australia, likely infected from Australian bats.

Cost (1)

labnet (457441) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751517)

Thats less than a months expenditure for the United States military middle east operations.
They don't call it the Military Industrial Complex for nothing.

Re:Cost (1)

msauve (701917) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751571)

That also shouldn't be funded.

Only 320,000? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751667)

Just look at the oceans! [virology.ws] . If mammals only host ~3e5 unknown viruses, that's nothing.

Re:Only 320,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753055)

320,000 potential DIFFERENT viruses in mammals. I'm sure the 10^30 virus particles in the ocean have some redundancy.

Re:Only 320,000? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,27 days | (#44759437)

320,000 potential DIFFERENT viruses in mammals. I'm sure the 10^30 virus particles in the ocean have some redundancy.

What do you mean by "different"? Mammals are mammals, viruses are viruses. Mammals reproduce sexually and have reproductive barriers, which makes it somewhat easy to classify them into "dogs", "cats", "chimpanzees", "slashdotters" etc. But viruses don't really face the same issue. Given how unclear the barriers are in this case, I think the total number of virions can easily correspond with total diversity since each virion is potentially different enough to serve as an originator of a wholly new strain, and the total mammal biomass as a host environment is still insignificant compared to the total mass of sea water.

Seriously? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751781)

Quote, "estimated to have cost between $15 billion and $50 billion in economic losses." SARS caused 775 deaths. Somehow that costs between 19.4 MILLION - 64.5 MILLION DOLLARS per death? Who's the @#$%'ing idiot that comes up with these figures?
 
According to the CDC, regular flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people per annual flu season. But somehow 775 SARS deaths potentially caused more economic damage than then ENTIRE GDP of the top 40 nations in the world COMBINED!
 
Asinine fear mongering.

Re:Seriously? (1)

TheGavster (774657) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752345)

SARS in particular I remember as causing border crossings (at least here in North America) to go absolutely apeshit. Between the direct losses of increased staffing and asinine posters (seriously, until it got Suddenly Acute, the only symptoms a lay person could identify were "like a cold") there were huge indirect losses of increased travel time and people simply not bothering to travel.

Re:Seriously? (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752793)

The GDP of the top 40 nations in 2011 was about 64 trillion.

320,000 unknown viruses (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44751889)

And that's just the unknown viruses we know about. Who knows how many unknown unknown viruses are lurking?

Re:320,000 unknown viruses (1)

RDW (41497) | 1 year,28 days | (#44751961)

And that's just the unknown viruses we know about. Who knows how many unknown unknown viruses are lurking?

Ah yes, the Rumsfeldome.

You can't just throw money at it. (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | 1 year,28 days | (#44752035)

Taxonomy isn't a field that all scientists wish they could work in.

Good luck trying to get high school science students interested in the concept of biological classification.

Obama The MOST Viral Threat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44752955)

Even Bloomberg News wrote that Obama is a virus.

Ha ha.

Yet, Obama is a viral threat to the existence of the United States of America.

And I welcome his ploy, on ploy on ploy on ploy to commit atrocities and crimes against humanity within Syria so to soothe his sexual desires.

O bama has sexual desires on the members of the USA Congress both Senate and House ah Yes.

Le Grande Tetons of Pelosi and the 'Johnson' of Boner make O bama feel ... left out and ... small.

"I must have the Grand Teton and Johnson!" O bama tells himself while standing naked in front of a poster of Richard M Nixon every night.

And this is the virus that infects the Federal Government of the United States of America.

Does this virus have Allies? Yes! John Forbes Kerry, Secretary of State USA!

In the mind of Kerry, the upcoming military exchange with Syria, with be his 'Spanish-American War' wherein he assumes the role of Theodore Roosevelt and after the New Paper Escapades die down assumes the mantle of the President of the United States of America in January 2017.

Oh! Land Be Sakes! What does Private J.F. Kerry know about War, historical or even modern War?

Nothing!

When Kerry opens his mouth and starts talking about 'War', well we can say for a fact that the 'drugs are talking!'

In Syria today, 040913, their are USA Special Forces units comprising Army Green Beret and Rangers, with Navy Seal.

Their missions are to capture locations with sufficient targeting requirement of the curse missile and aircraft curse and drone missile sights within Damascus.

After killing their way to sufficient sights, an arduous job of killing - gutting - flaying - grinding and then flushing the human remains down a nearest secure toilet, they will use their laser target-painters to paint target from roof top.

Reflections from the target-painters will scatter to the 'heavens.' From the 'heavens' the munitions will acquire information needed to zero-in on the targets.

For the God John Forbes Kerry to state under oath to the Senate that no 'Troops On The Ground' are needed or even used is a LIE.

Morte a John Forbes Kerry.

Thousands of researchers, trillions of virii ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753147)

The smart money isn't on the researchers, because the sheer
numbers alone favor the occurrence of a virus which might just be
the golden bullet in terms of its ability to spread combined with its
morbidity.

And today more than ever, with air travel and international shipping of
things like chicken and meat, the virus has a better chance of finding
new hosts in widespread areas than it ever had before.

The US and other countries WILL regret importing food from China,
mark my words well and remember them when you bury your loved
ones this year, or the next, or the year after that. Thanks to
the idiocy and greed of government everywhere, the probability of a
worldwide pandemic is now down to only a question of when, not if.

Re:Thousands of researchers, trillions of virii .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753459)

The government doesn't import food from China. Corporations do that, because people buy what corporations sell. If there were no government at all, we would still be importing food from China. The greed and idiocy you bemoan are hallmarks of human behavior.

Re:Thousands of researchers, trillions of virii .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44753681)

The government doesn't import food from China.

The government regulates such activities as food imports, you fucking imbecile.

While you were so busy being a pedant with a hilariously unjustified sense of your own superiority,
you missed the point of the hazards of importing things like food from countries which practice very different
standards of sanitation and processing safety.

Should we not worry about chicken from China ? China being the same country which
sent drywall made of hazardous waste and pet food with melamine added to increase the
bulk of the pet food ? It doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

economics (2)

swell (195815) | 1 year,28 days | (#44753605)

"A complete viral inventory would also carry a hefty price tag: about $6.3 billion"

Who wants to pay for that? Government? Private industry? The Gates Foundation? It's a major gamble for an uncertain reward. When you do the numbers it just doesn't make sense.

Economics aside, the human factor says it should be done. Assuming that ever larger numbers of humans on our planet is desirable. Is this what we want? I, for one, am willing to sacrifice your existence if it leads to a better world.

Viruses, Viruses and evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44756775)

First we have no idea how many viruses lurk out their(1000s?,millions?) then add in the mutation factor and the numbers go up. Think about it humans are a good food source for some virus out their which still hasn't discovered us. After all look how long it took us to discover the "New World" and what we did to it. Just relax and let nature take its course.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?