Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swines!

As you should be aware by now, swine flu - aka the Pig Cold, Boaritis or Porkulosis - has reached our seldom-sunny shores. Yes, loyal blog looker-atters, two absolute fools from Falkirk (or Fahl-KIRK, as Radio 1 have inexplicably termed it) have carried this most porcine of maladies into Scotland in their dirty, dirty lungs following a sojourn to Wetback Wonderland (Mexico).

To honour this mildly depressing development, I have decided to compile a list of 5 of the most widespread diseases to ever blight our round and lovely globe. Brace yourselves, healthy ones! WARNING: here be dragons! If you're squeamish, fuck off. The rest of you sickoes, follow me: it's about to get runny. Let the pandemicmonium commence!



THE BLACK DEATH


The grandaddy of the modern pandemic. Believed to be caused by a virus catchily named Yersinia pestis, the Black Death (aka The Great Plague/Pestilence/Monstrosity), the Black Death is believed to have polished off betwee 75-200 million people in the 1300s. It's said to have been transmitted from monkeys to fleas to rats to people. A bit like AIDS. More on that later. The plague came in three forms: bubonic, pneumonic and septacaemic. Four out of five folk lucky enough to catch the bubonic plague died within eight days. However, given that Medieval folk lived on average for seventeen days, this barely affected their longevity. It did, however, affect their quality of life, with symptoms ranging from swollen lymph nodes, purpura and a general sense of malaise. All in all, a bit horrific.


TYPHUS


Typhus has readed its ugly parasitic head a fair few times in recorded history. It was first reliably noted in Granada in 1489, though it is speculated to have claimed victims as far back as the Peloponnesian War. In any case, the Grenadian accounts detail a disease with such symptoms as fever, red spots over the arms, back and chest with a generous side-dish of pursuant delirium, gangrenous sores, and the stink of rotting flesh. How savoury. Typhus thrives in closed environments, such as jails, and was once known as Gaol Fever. Meh. S'cheaper than electrocution. And better for the environment. Down with prisoners, up with fossil fuels! Between 1918 and 1922, Typhus killed 3 million people, and then went on to claim many lives in Nazi concentration camps including, famously, Anne Frank. Typhus has also moved with the times, disguising itself to expose new and unprepared victims to its numerous horrors. Please, no cheap Madonna jibes, eh? Though they're both inordinately fond of African children...


AIDS


...as is AIDS. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the most unfortunate complication of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), and is generally transmitted by improper swappage of the sexy fluids. Symptoms generally arise from the fact that the body is suddenly incapable of dealing with minor infections as the immune system is decimated. This leads to such unpleasantries as Kaposi's sarcoma and other cancers, coupled with common symptoms like irregular temperatures, weight loss and weakness, not to mention a whole host of other debilitating infections and diseases being given free reign over the body's cells. AIDS is one of the most (in)famous pandemics due to its position at the forefront of the popular consciousness. This is in part due to its impact on the gay community, and their large influence on the Arts and culture. Additionally, its effect in Africa is made highly visible by appeals such as Comic Relief and Band/Live Aid/Earth. However, despite its prevalence, a large percentage of the population are still ignorant of AIDS and unsympathetic towards its sufferers as it is often viewed as "the Gay Plague" (or "Gaygue"). Clearly, those AIDS-riddled folk are just pansies dealing with an effeminate strain of man flu they caught from too much funbumming. To those among us who are AIDS-deniers, I say - fuck you. I hope you get cancer. And die. Mwaha!


SARS

The 2002 outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), though not technically a pandemic, is a memorable disease for me, not least because it occurred in my lifetime and involved the population of East Asia voluntarily dressing up like Shredder. Roffle! Seriously, SARS was bad news. Like so many big-ass nasties, it begins innocently enough: flu-like lethargy, sore throat and myalgia. Then you stop breathing and die. Gasp! Literally! The main pointer is a fever of over 38°C (roughly the same as a phoenix or volcano). As it's viral, antibiotics are as much use as a fudge enema. Therefore, prevention is best. Put expediently, if you don't want SARS, don't go to China or bang anyone in a surgical mask. Common sense, really.

And finally, the baddest bitch of them all...


INFLUENZA


Holy shit, that's one sick chicken ("sicken"?). Or is it? Maybe it's a kidney. I'm not sure. In any case, influenza's a dick. Endlessly mutable and impossible to kill: it's an evil genius! We all know the flu's symptoms and how irritating they can be. However, we don't ever believe it to be fatal. In most cases, we're correct. Nonetheless, flu in its various forms is still incredibly infectious, and esponsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Indeed, the flu has killed millions in the aeons since its emergence. Preventative injections against various flu strains are available to humans (and poultry) in the developed world, but if you get the sniffles in Rwanda, you're basically buggered. Furthermore, the recent epidemics of bird and swine flu have struck fear into the hearts of even the most vaccinated pensioner. At time of writing, the current swine flu epidemic has claimed 152 lives, with the number projected to rise. Now'd be a good time to turn Jewish, y'all. The pigs be revengin'.

And on that rather religious note, I shall bid you adieu. But before I piss off, I leave you with some words of wisdom imparted to me by my Chemistry teacher, Mr Farrell:

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases
Wrap your germs in a handkerchief"

However, given what we now know about methods of transmission, perhaps this adage should be amended thus:

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases
Wrap your dick in a latex sheath"

Play safe, kids!

1 comment:

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