1. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    How to quarantine?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Milady, Sep 2, 2008.

    I'm trying to work out the idea of a rodent-borne illness, reminiscent of the plague, but nixing the fleas. The disease has wiped out most of the population of large city and its surrounding area, and would have wreaked havoc on the rest of the world were it not for its timely quarantine.

    So, how was it quarantined? It needs to be impermeable to the rodents themselves as well as airborne pathogens, and also it should cut off the remaining humans stuck inside from the rest of the world. My initial idea is a sort of dome, but that's not a very convenient or efficient route, and it reminds me too much of the Simpsons movie... :p.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    I imagine something somewhere in the CDC Website will help...
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If the rodents are infecting a city, then I'm sure some of them will leave the city. Even if there is a wall of some sort around the city, rodents will be able to get out. They can easily get around in pipes and sewers. They can even chew through some types of thin metal. Quarantining a large group of rodents is extremely hard to do unless they are in cages or a safe room.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The easiest route for a plot device like the one you mention is simply to have given members of the population imune to the the plague you are creating. It happens in actual epidemics and pandemics. There is even a group of people in Africe being studied who seem to be completely imune to the HIV virus even after repeated exposure.

    This is a simpler method than trying to create a mechanical means of deviding those who live from those who don't. My opinion, of course.
     
  5. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    The main point of the quarantine, plot-wise, would be to keep my plucky band of survivors in. Basically, I need a reason for them to not be able to leave the city, other than the fact that they'd probably be shot on sight. Since the survivors are all kids (think Lord of the Flies scenario) The plot hinges on adults coming in from outside. The rest of the outside world has not yet been exposed to the disease... but why? It's unlikely that such a large group of people would be immune while only the people who lived in that city would succumb. Should be the other way around, no?

    I suppose if all else fails, I could isolate them geographically, like on an island, and hope the rats don't jump ship... o_o
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Unless the infection were no longer being transmitted, and those maintaining the quarantine have no way to know that or be certain of it.

    For example, an airborne virus that only survives in that form for several hours. Those already exposed could still develop symptoms, but no new exposure would result in infection.

    EDIT: I'm assuming that those imposing the quarantine understand that rats are the vector, AND know how the disease is transmitted from the rats to people. As Wrey notes below, that is an important factor.

    In extreme cases, it may require burning the lands around the city and lying down pesticides that would kill any rats trying to croww the burn zone. Fairly drastic, but if the disease is that virulent...

    What is the reange of tranbsmission from the rats to the people? Physical contact? As Wrey notes, unlikely to infect large numbers of people that way. Inches? Feet? How does it bridge any gaps?
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Then island isolation would be the way to go. As mentioned by others in this thread, rats are cunning little buggers. If you have a large area of quarantine set in a location that is contiguous with the surrounding land mass, an honest-to-goodness quarantine is going to be a bit implausible given that rats are the vector.

    Edit~ I have another question. If rats are the vector and not the fleas which live upon them, what is your mode of transmission? Fleas will bite humans, but humans will rarely touch wild rats.
     
  8. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    My understanding is that quarantine usually does boil down to keeping people in at checkpoints, with military force if necessary. Public transport is shut down, highways blocked, ports sealed, airports closed, etc. Any vehicle coming from such a quarantine zone would be refused entry if their origin was discovered.

    I don't think that such things as domes or massive tents or whatnot are usually involved, at least if we're talking real-world quarantines.
     
  9. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    I'm still trying to work all the details out... Since yesterday, I've been looking into that as well (being the teacher's pet in biology does help). I may have to go with the fleas, since that would be the most convenient. My original idea was to have the disease originate and mutate in rats but spread by air, but even if that were plausible the disease would have spread much faster than the story allows. Perhaps this island--since that's probably what it's going to end up being--already had a problem with rodents, and the disease began to spread through feces and fur, or whatever leavings the rats may have... left?
     
  10. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    It would be somewhat unusual, but not out of the realm of possibility.

    Out of curiosity, what's wrong with the default mode and using fleas or other blood-sucking parasites, that you're so reluctant to do so?
     
  11. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Not reluctant, not really. It just always occurred to me that in today's times, with today's hygiene, it would be difficult not to notice being bitten by fleas. And, after all, we have invented bug repellent...

    But now that I'm entertaining the idea of an island... perhaps a rather backwater island whose bug repellent stock may be close to nill... anything's possible. ;)
     
  12. ciavyn
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    ciavyn Senior Member

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    I like the island scenario as well - you could use Manhattan, or any of the other many islands around the US (assuming it is based in the US).

    Glad to hear you are working on it! ;)
     
  13. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Almost anywhere you go in the modern world, you're going to run up against the CDC regulations. Look at the SARS thing, or the avian flu. The responses are fast and sometimes a little extreme (how many birds were slaughtered?)

    Still, things do slip through. There were a couple of near-misses with SARS that only turned out well because the people involved recognized what was happening and quarantined themselves.

    The big issue you have here is that a disease is going to have to be pretty virulent to take out a modern city; virulent enough that it would pose a danger to much of the civilized world, especially with the common use of air travel, which can literally spread a disease around the world overnight.

    ---

    The problem with rats themselves as a vector is, as was pointed out, humans don't tend to interact physically with rodents very often, not even with their leavings. It's unlikely that such a thing would be a viable vector.
     
  14. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    hey make it something unique. If the vector were roaches those are harder to stop then rats. Roaches have actually survived a nuclear attack.

    Another good one would be flies or mosquitoes. as hard as rats to contain except in the case of putting a huge wall around a city. They do not live long enough to travel great distances so I believe a city could be quarrantined if those were your vector.

    Make it a disease that is spread by the canine population. That would be unique and once again if you were having trouble with an island, a dog could be stopped by a wall.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And with canines as a vector (or at least a secondary vector) there is no need to explain why or how humans would come into contact with them. They live among us. :rolleyes:
     
  16. Milady
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    Milady Contributing Member

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    Ack! Dogs... I could have PETA on my case if I followed my projected outline with dogs...

    Hmm... but, secondary vector? Wreybies, I think you just said the magic word. If dogs or cats were a secondary vector, that would sort out a few other problems I have. Hey, I think I'm having an epiphany here: Would a feline vector be plausible? Say, the island has a major rat problem and therefore they bring in a lot of cats, and the disease is passed from rat to cat to human? --Ack, that reminds me of a (really good) book I've read, though. Ah, the pains of being original.

    Lots of cool ideas being thrown around here, though.
     
  17. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Considering that more than sixty million Americans are infected with toxoplasmosis, a feline vector is far from implausible.
     

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