Superbug Pandemic

By admin

1) WHAT DOES IT MEAN?  The superbug pandemic scenario is potentially even more difficult to evade than the nuclear winter scenario, at least in its short to middle term stages. But while it is certainly possible for viruses and bacteria to infect more than one species, there has never been a known microcellular organism capable of devastating the entire environment and the majority of lifeforms on Earth, as is the case in a nuclear holocaust. Nonetheless, the pandemic is the true invisible enemy.  It can attack unseen from food supplies, water sources, human neighbours or the very air you breathe. The term “superbug” is an abbreviated reference to the many possible microcellular organisms, both bacterial and viral, known and unknown, which could potentially cause worldwide devastation.  From a broken quarantine of a military engineered super flu[1] to a deliberate attempt at global genocide[2], the pandemic is very difficult to hide from, once initiated.

2) WHAT ARE THE THREATS?  Pandemics spread most rapidly in areas of high population density. In crowded areas, humans share food, water and air and are in close physical proximity, all of which are boons to a contagion.  The superbug might be transmitted in one or a combination of many ways: blood; saliva; ingestion; inhalation; physical touch; contact with an infected host; contact with a pure sample of the bug.

Once a large number of hosts has become infected, it is common for some people to engage in a witch hunt mentality.  Groups or individuals either track down suspected carriers or, more commonly,  assault them wherever they are encountered.  Their theory is that if you wipe out the infected, you wipe out the infection.  In a pandemic situation, wiping out the infected is not a realistic option.  For some of these witch hunters this is just another excuse for violence – a violence which is less likely to be put down by local police forces.  But for others their behaviour is triggered by the human obsession with survival, even if it means disregarding former ethical standards and the quality of human life.

3) WHAT ARE SOME DEFENSES AND PRECAUTIONS?  To exist in small, isolated communities for a substantial length of time is the best defense against the superbug pandemic.  In regards to the cataclysmic disease itself, you should take careful record of: any symptoms which become physically visible; the time after infection at which any symptoms manifest themselves; the time which the disease requires to become contagious from its host; the time after which the disease is non-infectious from its host (if such a time exists); the method(s) by which the disease may be transmitted (including other animals); the time the disease typically takes to kill a host; any potential treatments.  Living in small communities of no more than a few dozen will limit population density and should increase citizen awareness of newcomers, in particular sickly newcomers.  Such small towns will, therefore, be less likely to be overrun by the sudden arrival of an infected individual.  Large post-apocalyptic communities can accomplish more in the areas of agriculture, defense, foraging and construction, but these advantages are outweighed in this scenario by the inflated risk posed by higher populations.

In the best case scenario, a vaccine for the deadly disease will be available. Needless to say, attaining samples of this vaccine would be in your best interests. Be aware though, that this thought will have occurred to all who hear of such a golden fleece, and those who quest to obtain it shall most likely be fanatical in their pursuit of self-preservation.  A joint mission with other survivors’ groups is advisable for the sake of mutual protection – if you are in a diplomatic position to do such.  Be aware that not all humans are known for their ethical reliablity, and your allies could turn on you once you have discovered the vaccine, especially if there is precious little to go around.

Without host organisms in which to survive, the superbug will eventually run its course throughout the world. But it is important to remember that diseases can remain dormant in genetic material for many years. Hence, even if survivors of the pandemic have appeared to develop an immunity or have been given a working vaccine, they may still carry the disease in a dormant state. The same may be true of other lifeforms on Earth which have been exposed. If at all possible, therefore, research into creating or improving a solution to the disease should be continued.

[1] The Stand, Stephen King (1978)

[2] Moonraker, Lewis Gilbert (1979)