Oct 13th 2012
ON OCTOBER 2nd a British traveller, flying home to Glasgow from
Afghanistan, began to feel ill. Within hours he was diagnosed with
Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, a virus nasty enough for him to be put
onto a military transport aircraft for transfer to an isolation
hospital in London. Less than 24 hours later he was dead.
This outbreak, on top of another death last month in Saudi Arabia
from a previously unknown virus, a cousin of the Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), has set global health agencies on edge. Ten
years ago the deaths of a couple of travellers from foreign parts might
not have been news at all. But the fright of the SARS outbreak in 2003
has left a lasting impression, and scientists and public-health
officials now tend to see any putative disease threat through its lens.