Title text: The list includes polio, Guinea worm, and this one particular enterovirus strain that they've been tracking out of spite after it went around the lab a few years ago.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by The Encyclopod who wanted to preserve The (now-extinct) Dark One's DNA but ... - Title text not explained, specifically why the mentioned virus type could be such an issue for the team. Is it embarrassing? Or where they just all very ill. Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Ponytail, Cueball, and Megan in this comic are scientists who are sarcastically worried about pathogen strains becoming extinct. People in general want harmful pathogens to go extinct.
Randall was most likely inspired by this article about different influenza strains. Influenza causes the yearly flu, which infects 5–15% of the global population annually and causes 3-5 million severe cases worldwide.
The title text mentions polio and Guinea worm disease - diseases that are being eradicated due to worldwide efforts - the former, famously, through vaccination, and the latter through education and prevention techniques. A Google search "sarcastic endangered" list seems to indicate that the "sarcastic endangered" list is not a real thing.
The bitter irony here is that much recent scholarship has described links between parasite biodiversity and ecosystem-wide, indeed planet-wide, biodiversity. In few, if preserving and expanding biodiversity are seen as good things, then preserving and expanding biodiversity of parasites is a good thing, the one not being possible without the other. Parasites and disease agents, arguably, are classes of predators, and their removal can help establish a superpredator, the actions of which can catastrophically drive down biodiversity. Humans, released from predation by a large percentage of formerly-effective microbial predators, through the introduction of penicillin and other antibiotics plus other elements of 'heroic medicine', sanitation, etc., have arguably become such a superpredator, and one that is mediating a loss of global biodiversity that may become the largest single species-extinction event in the history of planet Earth.
There also seems to be some evidence that infections with influenza viruses increase the chance of a heart attack. For instance regular flu shots reduce the risk of heart attacks. Thus the fact that we are "heartbroken" when B/Yamagata goes extinct could be sarcastic, since we might in fact suffer less from broken hearts.
- [Ponytail stands facing Cueball and Megan in front of a poster board.]
- [Ponytail is pointing a stick to the board reading "Current List" with bullet points beneath.]
- [The first bullet reads Influenza B/Yamagata.]
- [Four further bulletpoints follow, which are left indistinct.]
- Ponytail: Influenza's genetic diversity has declined druing the pandemic, and the B/Yamagata lineage is at risk of extinction.
- Ponytail: Which would be such a shame.
- Megan: Yeah, I'm sooooooo worried about it.
- Cueball: We'd be just heartbroken!
- [Caption below the panel]:
- When a pathogen that scientists really don't like is close to disappearing, it gets added to the sarcastic endangered species list.
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