A virus worse than Ebola

on   /   in Viewpoint 11:39 am   /   Comments

A VIRUS is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms. Viruses can infect all types of life forms. Since 1892, about 5,000 viruses have been described in detail, although there are millions of different types.

The average virus is about one one-hundredth the size of the average bacterium. Most viruses are too small to be seen directly with an optical microscope.

The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear: some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria.

In evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer which increases genetic diversity. Viruses are considered by some to be a life form because they carry genetic material, reproduce and evolve through natural selection. However, they lack key characteristics (such as cell structure) that are generally considered necessary to count as life.

Viruses spread in many ways. The disease-bearing organisms are known as vectors. Influenza viruses are spread by coughing and sneezing. Some viruses  are passed from person to person by contact, entering the body in food or water. Viral infections in animals, including humans, provoke an immune response that usually eliminates the infecting virus. Immune responses can also be produced by vaccines, which confer an artificially acquired immunity to the specific viral infection.

However, some viruses, including those that cause AIDS and viral hepatitis, evade these immune responses and result in chronic infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, but several antiviral drugs have been developed.

This brief description becomes necessary to let us understand that although viruses may not be described as forms of life, they influence life and living with diseases.

Ebola Virus was first identified in the Congo Region of Central Africa in 1972. This year it manifested in West African countries of Guinea, Sierra-leone and Liberia. The vectors of this virus is said to be fruit eating bats and monkeys. The virus was brought into Nigeria by the late Mr Patrick Sawyer, an Ameican- Liberian, last month. The Ebola Vurus disease has no cure yet, with a gestation period of two to 21 days. It is very deadly and has caused fears in the world and Nigeria in particular. But the Nigerian spirit is overcoming  Ebola, and for the first time we hear of people who were infected and got cured for reporting early to the right hospitals in Lagos.

The fear of Ebola helped to spur the fight against its spread, and today people hardly shake hands, we avoid body contacts when we can, we are learning to wash with soap at every opportunity in Nigeria. If you can contain Ebola for 21days, it simply dies off and that’s why we can overcome Ebola, as deadly and vicious as it can be. Moreover, Ebola is difficult to contract; except you make contact with the body fluids of an infected person, you won’t get it. In other words, with prayer, good hygiene and discipline, you may not only avoid Ebola, you can deal with it if you catch it, as has been proven in Lagos State.

But this is not the case with the virus that I am talking about here. This virus can be contracted by contact or just by watching the carrier’s life style. It can hardly be contained because when it comes it consumes the whole being, the outlook and conduct of the victim, and unlike Ebola, the vectors are humans, and it attacks only humans.

It is more deadly than Ebola because the victim enjoys its presence in his or her body till destruction comes. Unlike the symptoms of fever, stooling and vomiting, the victims of this virus manifest feverish and impulsive spending life style, and they display ostentation and degrade their environment. They are usually strong and healthy physically, but spiritually are dead!

This virus is worse than Ebola because it attacks the mind, heart and conscience of its victims. The victims become mindless, heartless, and conscienceless. It causes its victims usually to love power, and money, and it naturally kills a nation, when it hits their leaders.

From available records, Ebola came to Nigeria this year, but this virus has been with us from 1960! It has therefore eaten into the fabric of every facet of life and living in Nigeria over time, because it grows slowly but surely in the body and life of its victims.

The victims are very many in our churches, mosques, temples, and hospitals, schools, universities, offices, communities and government. It has caused the standing of good logic on its head in our country.

This virus has caused Nigeria to remain largely unemployed, with poor roads, poorly equipped and managed hospitals, terrible law enforcement systems, compromised security agencies, poor educational systems, lack of electric power, an import oriented consuming nation, with all sorts of exotic cars on our bad roads. It is so bad a virus that the leaders stand on podiums and condemn the manifestations of this virus, knowing that they themselves are infected serially. They lie, cheat, steal, intimidate, harass and conduct themselves with impunity.

They impoverish the young ones and use them as political tugs, deny the parents the dividends of good governance, and give the women brooms to sweep the streets in the name of job creation. They suck the finances of the people who voted them into power dry by foisting heavy taxes on them in the name of the drive for increased Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and then lavish the money so acquired in building their own hotels and filling stations. They dare not encourage or build industries with the money they have stolen because this virus puts a fear of empowerment of the people inside them. This virus is worse than Ebola, it is called Corruption Virus Disease, CVD. We, as a people that are tired of our situation, must rise now to fight and contain CVD. Yes we can!

Clement Udegbe, a legal practitioner, wrote from Lagos.

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