With the increase in reports of a new strain of cowabungavirus spreading throughout the New York City area, questions have arisen about the effectiveness of certain preventive measures some people are taking. Laserflail spoke with Sheldon Frogman, Acting Associate Director of Amphibious Vectors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to learn more about the nature of this gnarly disease and how people can protect themselves against infection.
LF: Let’s get to the punchline—are all these masks we see people wearing these days going to stop cowabungavirus from spreading?
Not in the least, mainly because the masks are only a thin strip of cloth that cover a person’s temples, upper bridge of the nose, a thin slice of the forehead, and strip around the back of their head. Viruses tend to enter the body most easily through membranous tissue in the mouth, nose, eyes, and sexual organs. The coverage of these new masks is pretty much negligible in terms of preventing viral transmission.
LF: So what do you recommend for preventing the spread of cowabungavirus?
SF: If people don’t know by now, they probably deserve to catch it.
LF: Is that the CDC’s official response?!
SF: [sighs] No. Wash your hands regularly, sterilize surfaces, don’t touch your face. Stay away from turtles, rats, and other urban wildlife. Don’t enter sewers. If you think you might be infected, quarantine yourself so you don’t infect others, and drink plenty of sugary, carbonated beverages.
LF: What are some of the symptoms people should look out for?
SF: Initially, a lot of people actually experience this great surge of energy, which they are compelled to burn off. The most common manifestations of this are displays of gymnastics or martial arts, though other demonstrations have also been reported, including skateboarding, surfing, and parkour. This energy expenditure often leads to an increased appetite, which triggers cravings for carbohydrates, fats, and protein, often in the form of Italian meats.
LF: Yes, financial analysts have noted the curious spike in pizza sales since the outbreak began.
SF: That’s outside my area of expertise, but it certainly makes sense. Another early symptom to look out for is a sudden urge to yell 80s-era West Coast slang. That’s actually a big one, because a lot of people assume it’s just emphatic displays of nostalgia. But it can be an indicator if the person doesn’t commonly use such argot, especially for younger people like Yeeters or late Millennials.
LF: Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about how this all began. Is it true that cowabungavirus started in turtles and then jumped to humans?
SF: We’re still investigating the origins, but it’s looking like that’s the case more and more every day. It definitely originated in the New York sewers, which has an incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem. We believe we’ve traced it back to the earliest fatalities, which include four members of a previously unknown species of turtle and a very large rat. What’s unclear at this stage is whether the rat passed it to the turtles, or vice versa, and how it eventually spread to the human population.
LF: Any thing else you want the public to know about cowabungavirus?
SF: Not really.
LF: Are…are you sure?
April O. Neil contributed to this report.