Well, a lot of headlines lately have touched on whether the ebola virus, which has now reached US shores in an uncontrolled manor, will spread and become a public health threat. There was already controversy when US doctors who’d contracted the disease were brought back to the country under controlled, heavily-monitored conditions.
But, now a man reached Dallas, Texas with the disease, potentially spreading it to others, because he was unaware he had the condition. While health officials insist Ebola is hard-to-contract and it’s unlikely the disease will spread, it does make me start thinking about what would happen if a disease spread quickly and wiped out much of the citizenry. Perhaps because that’s the underpinnings of the society in my novel, Life First. It’s a society that has survived a nearly civilization ending pandemic. A disease that swept through the world, swiftly killing almost all who came in contact with it.
Epidemic’s like the Ebola one in West Africa remind us just how scary disease can be, but luckily it’s not one that spreads through airborne transmission, which is good. At the time I got the idea for Life First, there’d been a lot of concern over airborne strains of flus (bird flu, swine flu), which are so scary because they are easily transmitted and airborne.
With these types of situations, it’s so scary because it all becomes about allocation of resources. My father-in-law served on a committee in his state that looked at who should be vaccinated first (if vaccines are available, and in limited quantity), and who should be given treatment first, because you tend to have limited production of medication that treat it (there are medications that help in normal flu cases and might be of use with a virulent strain [even if not as effective as they are with normal strains, the meds might be more effective than nothing]).
So, there are so many issues, where you have government officials and policy experts making decisions that have very real consequences for regular people. I think that’s one of the reasons I chose to set my novel after the pandemics, because to set it during them would have required examining what a trying, arduous time it was. It was full of fear, death, sadness and uncertainty. As a writer, it would have been hard for me to immerse myself in such an environment for the length of time it takes to write a novel.
But, as I sit here and watch the path of Ebola, and the enterovirus sweeping through the country and sickening and killing children it does set my inner worrier going. The prospect of dystopian fiction coming true is never a good thing.
Below, I’ve pasted an interesting video on the Ebola virus, for those curious to learn more about it and the current epidemic. Oddly enough, the disease was discovered the same year I was born. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or completely unrelated thing.