Ron Seybold's Viral Times

A story to inject hearts with insight, hope and health

How to Survive the Next Global Pandemic

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In the world of Viral Times, not so far into the future, a global pandemic has changed us all. A virus triggers The New Flu and it evolves to H.I.V.E-5. AIDS Ultra follows. The government rounds up the infected and locks them into Health Camps, quarantined for secret drug testing. It’s only a few years into our future, those viral times. But in our today, Gizmodo is looking at how to survive such a crisis.

Our society is setting itself up for a global-scale disaster. Diseases, particularly those of tropical origin, are spreading faster than ever before, owing to more long-distance travel, urbanization, lack of sanitation, and ineffective mosquito control—not to mention global warming and the spread of tropical diseases outside of traditional equatorial confines. Accordingly, Oxford’s Global Priorities Project has listed a possible future pandemic as one of the worst catastrophic threats currently facing humanity.

And viruses are right at the top of the list of threats in the article. We have no way of defending ourselves with drugs of today. The advice on survival begins with storing away fresh water, and the writer adds, “You should also get the latest seasonal vaccine. It may not protect you against the mutated strain, but then again, it just might.”

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Written by Ron Seybold

April 9, 2017 at 1:23 am

Readying for a Health Camp Break-In

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By Dayton Winstead

Austin, November 29, 2021

While the rains fall, we fall back in retreat from disease.

I type those words into my ScribePad and wipe sweat off my brow. I’m sweltering in my apartment while my Condo Cooler is forced to idle. I’m not supposed to be home now, a journalist writing in his private journal while the sun sets on a Texas hot with climate and viruses. Government clocks cycle our energy to restrain the temperature. But in these times, nothing we’ve tried controls the viruses.

They fall on us from the skies in rainstorms and leap between us in casual touch. These times have caused love to fail. A half-century ago people had sex–dad would say make love in one of his editorials–with no fears if they used simple precaution. Even when I grew up, sexual disease needed blood to cross between bodies. But HIVE-5 is more aggressive than its viral ancestors. It enters the body while you battle the New Flu, a disease with an airborne range of 10 feet that’s soared into a 19-month pandemic. Nobody gets close now without designer masks, antiviral clothes, viro-screen gel. In the ultimate of social distancing, the lucky ones can suit up and go virtual for sex. Secure Sex, they call it, now breeding faster than mosquitos in a holding pond.

I write to disinfect myself from my mission tomorrow and so I leave behind this record.

First the Flu, then HIV, and at the last, AIDS Ultra. Can love survive the terrors of touch? Nobody has an answer yet, although the new Simulation Suits mimic touch to make sex safe again. General Connectrics owns the field of haptics, gamingtouch technology grown up to serve sex.

Real sex now means death, not joy or peace or rest, or even work. Germs work to kill off sex with an AIDS any man or woman can catch. Small bugs bust up large towns and break down long lives. Have sex and die, or don’t and feel your heart grow cold.

I can’t push that kind of writing past my editor Roni at Viral Times, my latest media outlet. I skip work tonight to write this testimony. Tomorrow I have to risk everything on a mission I can’t dodge, to try to break into the Government Health Camp outside Waco. The camps pen up the infected. Healthland Security says the detentions ensure national security. I report these official lies because they need light to wither.

To crack into that Camp I’ll be on the move in tomorrow’s wan light, a dim path compared to the quartz lights of show business video stages. My celebrity stories at SatNews were easier. Entertainment people liked to talk to me about themselves, their projects. Then my wife Melissa swept into my life and challenged my charm. “Do more good,” she said. A fat lot of good her legal doings have brought our dreams. She started fighting for the rights of the sick. The feds fought back by locking her up in the Health Camp where she went yesterday to depose Ultra victims.

I wipe sweat off my forehead and onto the table. We missed that wetness, the smell of us, the one night we played with prototype Suits. They record sex, too, but I don’t have the stomach yet to replay that episode into a Suit. I won’t need the replay if I can get her out, somehow.

SimSuits surfaced when HIV hit the rich. You can use them now if you know the right people. The right people are fucking each other now in SimSuits, safe from disease and stimulating each other across their bodies. Outside the suits, people are dying. Inside, freedom, and maybe addiction.

People cocoon indoors, order basic needs, receive their work online and deliver it. A few, the lucky, open a package in a SafeFoyer at their front door from General Connectrics. The Suit connects them so they can touch each others’ bodies. You don’t risk being corralled into a Camp with Ultra if you can have sex in a Suit.

Melissa wants to stop the detentions, even empty the camps. She always wants something for somebody else. We could’ve had it easier, if she didn’t always want to do the hard thing. “Hard is what makes it good,” she told me. “If it were easy, everybody would do it.”

Ultra crams sex into the back alley of the Suits. After just nine months, they’re already leading a revival of the screw-anything ’70s. Low-cost SimSuits, in viral times, to hook up anonymously–well, there will be nothing to stop a leap into what preachers call the wanton wasteland.

The Evangelical Party rails against “hell-bearing acts of filth in a populace linking up in full rut.” But words can’t stop sex, not even with the fear of God.  What difference can sermons make? Not even, “God has a plan to wipe out this state of lust — to restore the blessed order of man and woman rejoicing in safe, married relations.”

I feel my head grow wet, but not with sweat.  The rain patters against my skylight, where a small crease admits drops. I duck out of the way and disinfect with viro-screen wipe, then spray down the table. I throw up a sealer blob against the skylight to patch the hole. The viruses can travel in the rain, drops of nature nobody can be sure are safe. I gotta rescue Melissa from the viruses raining through that death camp. I want to talk God into saving her.

I do more than pray for luck to extract Melissa. Milo Sensi down in the Times info-digger bullpens helped me snare the Camp’s GPS maps, then used his probability algorithms to trace her trail inside since she entered. I check the seals on my protective SafeCloak, then stretch to ready my muscles, both slow-twitch and fast, the strength of a high school gymnast and speed of a cyclist. All that strength and desperation might not be enough to rescue my lover. I can at least die trying to save our dreams.

Written by Ron Seybold

April 6, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Politics play a role in curing an epidemic

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PresidentsFor good or for ill, politics can be part of the prescription for stopping an epidemic. Policies can permit a nation’s resources to play a role in the healing. In Viral Times, a battered country permits drug testing to take on a swifter pace, hoping for a cure to HIVE-5. The drug doesn’t emerge, but others do. Fear ensures the loss of civil liberties, more swiftly than pharma research yields a new drug. The government permits those losses, too.

In our current day it appears that politics has at least helped to stem the tide of Ebola. More specifically, the virus has disappeared from our media coverage by this week. One week after the US midterm elections, Ebola stopped scaring us all. Cases are still on the rise in Africa. We’ve created no drugs to stop Ebola. It’s just gone underground, somehow, since nobody in office can profit by calling for more government resources.

Shepard Smith of Fox News (not kidding here) broadcast the best three minutes of news coverage about Ebola during the pandemic panicShepard Smith. He noted that the party in power during an epidemic needs to be seen taking action, while the party out of power needs to be seen calling for investigations about the lack of virus-protection resource. Now that the GOP controls both houses of the Congress, we’ll watch to see how much more our government can do to protect us in our current viral times.

Written by Ron Seybold

November 14, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Corpses Present the Greatest Infection Risk from Ebola

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ebola corpseEverybody wants to be sure they know how the Ebola virus infects us. Studies show that skin won’t transfer the virus unless a person’s died of the disease caused by the virus. Casual contact with the Walking Sick — those suffering some of the symptoms such as fever, sore throat, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea — probably won’t infect you either. You just have to keep your hands to yourself.

A 2007 study from the Journal of Infectious Diseases took samples from saliva, from semen, sweat and bodily fluids of patients infected with the virus. Scientists were looking for specimens viable enough to grow in a petri dish. One in 12 saliva samples carried the virus. None of the skin swabs tested positive. In semen samples, two of the 38 samples tested positive. The one sweat sample? It tested negative.

The researchers concluded that Ebola transmission via casual contact is a low probability event. Keep in mind that Ebola is not an airborne virus yet, either. So how did the latest person, a doctor in New York City, get infected by the virus? Working with infected patients in Africa. Patients who are emitting blood, or feces via diarrhea, are the most virulent. Even dried blood can remain infectious for over a week.

Where on your body do you get infected? Cuts in your skin, mouth, nose, or eyes. Soft tissue openings always offer a pathway to any virus or bacteria. If someone with active Ebola is still alive, and those pathways of yours are protected, you should be safe. But once a person has died, even their skin carries the virus. Dead bodies, African healthcare duties — there are the elements that contribute to an Ebola infection.

That Journal study was conducted seven years ago. Viruses do mutate, and quickly.

Written by Ron Seybold

October 24, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Panic and Fear Drive Ebola Virus Responses

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The world’s most deadly virus is infecting our populace with two dangerous diseases: fear and misunderstanding. First comes the misunderstanding. Ebola is not contagious until a person shows symptoms. One of those symptoms is fever, but fever can precede a more commonplace flu.

gowning healtcareBut people on aircraft who show signs of flu will now be asked to de-board, in some places. Not official policy, just someone being careful. Too much care. Everyone on a flight where an Ebola patient flew — one who had symptoms, but wasn’t detected — will be tested for the virus.

In Texas schools, children who show up with flu have trigged a closing of their schools in the days that follow.

Misunderstanding comes first, and fear follows. Finally, civil rights are removed.

The Ebola virus can only be contracted by contact with bodily fluids. Healthcare workers have elaborate protocols to follow. The CDC is making those protocols more severe. Hospitals don’t have the funding or staff to follow the protocols that are in place. More elaborate protocols will be harder to follow.

Hazmat suits are sold out in major cities in the US. The only people who need a hazmat suit are those in contact with Ebola victims who are fighting the virus. Healthcare workers. But the suits are being purchased by plenty of people who don’t work in healthcare.

Sold out hazmat suits: More evidence of fear, driven by misunderstanding. This is the kind of emotion that drove the Patriot Act, which founded the TSA, which now demands we remove our shoes. Unless the passenger is under 12. Honestly, wouldn’t a dedicated terrorist use a child anyway?

So in response to Ebola fears, airline traffic will decline over the next several months. Smaller airlines, or those in bad financial condition, will struggle when they miss ticket revenues in this busiest of travel seasons. Fear is the most common symptom of a viral infection. It spreads to everyone who does not understand how a virus works, or how to protect ourselves.

Getting a flu shot is more effective than buying a hazmat suit or skipping school or a flight. Last year 52,000 people died in the US due to flu. Ebola has killed one person in the US.

Written by Ron Seybold

October 20, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Government funds hurry-up disease fighters

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The world is so far behind on its supply of anti-bacterial drugs that the US government is paying a major pharma to create and test formulas more quickly. This government aid to pharmaceutical giants like GlaxoSmithKline rolls into full tilt in Viral Times, just some five years from now.

But this year, pressure has mounted for accelerated creation of drugs to fight superbugs — things like MRSA and worse, for which there appears to be no protection. Going to the hospital is a serious decision itself about maintaining health.

From the New York Times:

Government officials, drug companies and medical experts, faced with outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” are pushing to speed up the approval of new antibiotics, a move that is raising safety concerns among some critics.

The need for new antibiotics is so urgent, supporters of an overhaul say, that lengthy studies involving hundreds or thousands of patients should be waived in favor of directly testing such drugs in very sick patients. Influential lawmakers have said they are prepared to support legislation that allows for faster testing.

The Health and Human Services Department last month announced an agreement under which it will pay $40 million to a major drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, to help it develop medications to combat antibiotic resistance and biological agents that terrorists might use. Under the plan, the federal government could give the drug company as much as $200 million over the next five years.

“We are facing a huge crisis worldwide not having an antibiotics pipeline,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration. “It is bad now, and the infectious disease docs are frantic. But what is worse is the thought of where we will be five to 10 years from now.”

If you play out this trend, two aspects emerge. First, the defense of our populace from disease will make the military defense budgets look small. While you’re unlikely to be attacked by a rogue cell of terrorists, catching a superbug is a genuine possibility. Uncounted billions will be tossed at this threat.

Second, this is only drug defense against bacterial infection we’re seeing in the Times story. Viruses are much more adaptive and evasive. We have fewer successful anti-virals than anti-bacterials. It’s reasonable to imagine that pharmacos, like PharmaCorp in Viral Times, can grow larger than a defense contractor like McDonnell Douglas.

Written by Ron Seybold

July 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Ebola sneaks past immune system

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One of the world’s deadliest viruses uses sophisticated masking techniques to evade immunizations, according to Emory University. The university directly across the road from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study

Efforts to develop a vaccine against Ebola virus have met with limited success, and it is likely that the virus employs complex immune evasion mechanisms that present unique challenges for vaccine design. Understanding these evasion mechanisms is a critical first step in developing an effective vaccine.

Gopi Mohan, a graduate student at Emory University is first author of the paper. Richard Compans, professor of microbiology and immunology, led the research along with assistant professor Chinglai Yang.

In Viral Times, a New Flu weakens the bodies of loved ones enough to let them contract HIVE-5, the latest immune deficiency virus. Ebola is far more lethal, but it uses vectors of bats and pigs to travel to its hosts. HIVE-5, and the resulting AIDS Ultra, is transmitted by touch. It’s up to Dayton Winstead and Angie Consoli to discover how the most deadly virus survives and thrives, in order to stop its spread.

Written by Ron Seybold

December 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm

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