CDC article about a new virus spread by camels

When I see that the CDC has expedited an article for publication and it goes out “ahead of print”, I get the feeling they found something they’re not ready to yell “run for your lives” yet, but they’re filing it under the ominous “you might want to stand back a little” category.

The CDC just posted they are watching a new Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) that first popped up back in 2012.

This virus is pretty nasty. It spreads from camels to humans and results in a serious respiratory tract illness which leads to pneumonia.

In the article, it says that in “187 laboratory-confirmed human cases… 97 were fatal.”

Um… that’s a 52% mortality rate. A better than 50/50 chance if you get this virus, you’re gonna die.

The CDC article is full of solid medical terminology that goes into how they’re trying to nail down this bug, but the short version of what they know so far is that young camels are infected more often than older ones, and since the first half of each year is when most young camels are born due to local breeding patterns, that’s when they expect an upturn in this disease.

Unfortunately, they’re still not 100% on if it completely comes from camels and there’s still a big unknown on what causes the young camels to become sick in the first place. (“Phylogenetic analyses supported the conclusion that transmission occurred between camel and patient, but no direction was implied (e.g, camel to human vs. human to camel)”).

It is still limited to the countries in the Arabian Peninsula, but like every educational disaster movie has shown, it only takes one sick person on a plane to New York to bring civilization to its’ knees.

OK, that’s not really going to happen, but this is still not good.

Link to the CDC article is here.

NASA’s official response to that “we’re all gonna dieeee” study

NASA had a quick but pointed response today to the “Sustainability Study” that’s making the rounds on the internet.

Apparently some university poozers slid a report under the door of NASA’s main office that says the world is gonna end and we’re all gonna die if we use plastic bags, keep the lights on when we’re not in the room, and all kinds of evil-bastard stuff like that.

NASA came down on Professor Chicken Little and his band of merry mother cluckers by saying “we didn’t touch that report, didn’t ask for that report, and we don’t even know who the University of Maryland’s mascot is. So nyaaa.”

Ok, maybe not literally, but I still don’t think it’s wise to tick off scientists who make giant explodey cylinders for a living.

Full press release follows…


NASA Statement on Sustainability Study

The following is a statement from NASA regarding erroneous media reports crediting the agency with an academic paper on population and societal impacts.

“A soon-to-be published research paper ‘Human and Nature Dynamics (HANDY): Modeling Inequality and Use of Resources in the Collapse or Sustainability of Societies’ by University of Maryland researchers Safa Motesharrei and Eugenia Kalnay, and University of Minnesota’s Jorge Rivas was not solicited, directed or reviewed by NASA. It is an independent study by the university researchers utilizing research tools developed for a separate NASA activity.

“As is the case with all independent research, the views and conclusions in the paper are those of the authors alone. NASA does not endorse the paper or its conclusions.”


Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington

Ed Campion
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.