Archive for West Africa

Is Ebola Vaccine-Resistant?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , on November 20, 2015 by rgwallace

Ebola vaccine 1The Freudian unconscious also has a formal aspect and is not merely a matter of content: recall the cases where Freud interprets a dream so that what is repressed/excluded from its content returns as a feature of the form of the dream…the true secret of the dream is not its content…but the form itself. –Slavoj Žižek (2014)

News of Ebola in West Africa is ping ponging between joyous declarations the outbreak is over to abashed announcements of its return.

One is reminded of the Onion‘s farcical September 1939 front page: “WA-“. Both a denouement denied and, in the other direction, the return of the repressed.

Our group’s latest commentary, just published online in the International Journal of Health Services, a review and extension of previous work, proposes an explanation for the never-quite-ending outbreak,

[R]egional neoliberalism may affix the stochastic ‘friction’ of ecological relationships imposed by the forest across populations, which, when above a threshold, keeps the virus from lining up transmission above replacement. Export-led logging, mining, and intensive agriculture may depress such functional noise, permitting novel spillovers [across species] larger forces of infection. Mature outbreaks, meanwhile, can continue to circulate even in the face of efficient vaccines.

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The Palm Oil Sector?

Posted in Evolution, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2014 by rgwallace

Palm oil 5And he told them about this new God, the Creator of all the world and all the men and women. He told them that they worshipped false gods, gods of wood and stone. A deep murmur went through the crowd when he said this. He told them that the true God lived on high and that all men when they died went before Him for judgment. Evil men and all the heathen who in their blindness bowed to wood and stone were thrown into a fire that burned like palm-oil. –Chinua Achebe (1958)

There’s something fishy about the bushmeat narrative of Ebola.

In August we explored the way the story internalizes the outbreak to local West Africans. It’s part of the ooga booga epidemiology that detracts from the circuits of capital, originating in New York, London and elsewhere, that fund the development and deforestation driving the emergence of new diseases in the global South.

But in addition, and not unconnected, there’s something missing from the model’s purported etiology. Indeed, Ebola may have almost nothing, or only something tangentially, to do with the bushmeat trade.

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Talking Ebola

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by rgwallace

Wallace Ebola Agrifood Collaborative poster_5UPDATE. A video of the talk is now available here. A little rough in voice and ideas, some of which hours later I revised. Such is the nature of the beast of an outbreak. But some good info I hope and some lively discussion afterwards.


For those of you in the Twin Cities area, Monday I’ll be giving a talk on Ebola at the University of Minnesota.

Neoliberal Ebola: the Agroeconomics of a Deadly Spillover

Monday, October 13, Noon

Carlson School of Management, rm 1-149
321 19th Ave South, Minneapolis
University of Minnesota

The first human outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa, and by far the largest and most extensive recorded to date anywhere, began in forest villages across four districts in southeastern Guinea as early as December 2013. Understandably much attention has been placed upon the lethargy of the world’s response to the outbreak as well as the role a broadly painted ‘poverty’ has played in the pathogen’s spread and case fatality rate. Some work has focused on the local deforestation, dedevelopment, population mobility, periurbanization, and inadequate health system that apparently smoothed Ebola’s ecophylogentic transition.

But we can situate these diverse possibilities within a broader framework that unifies Ebola’s origins and its failure of containment. The neoliberal policies that truncated regional medical infrastructure also redirected forest development. The latter may have reset multispecies agroecologies, including perhaps between frugivore bats, a documented Ebola reservoir, and partially proletarianized pickers of increasingly commoditized oil palm.

Neoliberal Ebola?

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, HIV, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2014 by rgwallace

Ebola2With an update about David Quammen’s response at the bottom.

In spite of writing a long book on diseases spilling over from animals to humans, well-regarded author David Quammen can’t seem to get his mind wrapped around the possibility Ebola has likely evolved a new ecotype, for the first time spreading into a major urban area.

The first outbreak of Flaviviridae Filoviridae Ebola in West Africa apparently began in forest villages across four districts in southeastern Guinea as early as December 2013 before spreading to Conakry and the outskirts of Monrovia, the capitals of Guinea and Liberia respectively.

The number of deaths across West Africa presently stands at 149 killed out of 242 infected. According to the WHO, with a three-week incubation period cases are likely to continue to accumulate for months.

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