The Smallest Denominator
By Julie Rowe
Villains come in all sizes and use many methods to reach their goals. Human nature is, most of the time, predictable. We all have basic needs: Food, shelter, safety, happiness. We have many more wants: Wealth, knowledge, control, health.
We understand that there are people who will do anything to achieve these wants and needs. But, not all villains are as banal, predicable, or even visible.
My favorite villains are microscopic. Invisible. Capricious.
Pathogenic bacteria and viruses are the most prolific serial killers on our planet. They are responsible for millions of deaths around the world ever year, right up to and including 2017.
They’ve been killing us for a very long time.
· In 430 B.C., smallpox killed more than 30,000 people in Athens, Greece, reducing the city’s population by at least 20%.
· The Black Death killed 50 million people in the 14th century, or 60 % of Europe’s entire population.
· In the 1500 and 1600’s smallpox killed millions of native peoples in Mexico and North America.
· In 1793 Yellow Fever killed 45,000 people in Philadelphia.
· The great flu pandemic of 1918 and 1919 is estimated to have killed at least 30 to 50 million people worldwide.
· In 2009, the global H1N1 flu pandemic may have killed as many as 575,000 people, though only 18,500 deaths were confirmed.
· In 2010 an epidemic of cholera killed at least 10,000 people in Haiti following a deadly earthquake.
· In 2012, approximately 122,000 people worldwide died from the measles. Typhoid fever killed around 216,000 people that year. Tuberculosis also killed an estimated 1.3 million in 2012.
· The 2014 epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in West Africa killed more than 11,300 people.
New strains of bacteria and viruses continue to appear around the world. Some are more virulent forms of organisms that have plagued us on and off for hundreds or even thousands of years. Others, like Zika, seem to come out of nowhere.
The anti-vaccine movement has brought all these serial killers back into our midst, allowing outbreaks of highly contagious viruses (measles scares the crap out of me) to occur in first world countries for the first time in decades.
During 2015 and 2016, the CDC conducted more than 750 field investigations in 49 states, 5 U.S. territories, and in at least 35 different countries.
With the population of the world now over 7 billion people, infectious disease specialists predict that we’re due for another catastrophic disease to sweep across the world.
A villain we can’t see, predict, or prevent with any guarantee of success.
Learn more about current outbreaks at the CDC’s website: CDC Current Outbreak List
Full-time author, freelance writer and workshop facilitator, Julie Rowe’s debut novel, Icebound, was released by Carina Press on Nov 14, 2011. Ten novels and eight anthologies have followed. Her most recent titles are the MEN OF ACTION boxed set and VIRAL JUSTICE book #3 of the Biological Response Team series. Julie’s articles and short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today's Parent magazine and Canadian Living. Julie facilitates business writing and communication workshops at Keyano College in her home city, and has presented writing workshops at conferences in the United States and Canada. She’s also a strong supporter of life long learning and moderates a free announcement loop for the promotion of online classes, workshops and webinars. You can find her at www.julieroweauthor.com , on Twitter @julieroweauthor or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor.