Spread of Disease

For any disease that is new to the world, there is always a ‘patient zero’ or a source for where the disease first originated.  For the Bubonic Plague, commonly known as the ‘Black Death plague’, it was the traders’ ships sailing in from the Black Sea with most of the crew either dead or gravely ill. Even though authorities in the sailor’s port ordered the ships out, the disease still made it to land, spreading across the continent and caused devastation over the next 5 years ( Black Death). The 1918 Spanish Flu was first documented with Private Albert Gitchell, a soldier in the state of Kansas on a military base. Due to Private Gitchell being a cook on the US Army base, the disease spread rapidly throughout the camp, and then moved across the states to wreck havoc (Spanish Influenza).

The most known epidemic to hit the United States is the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the 1980s. Patient zero for this epidemic was Canadian Flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, as he was named repeatedly from different sources as having come in contact with those who had contracted the disease. However, after extensive researching it was confirmed that Duags, wasn’t exactly the source of it coming to America, seeing as he landed in California, and most cases surfaced in New York City. Nevertheless, many still point to him as being an important person in the outbreak ( AIDs outbreak). In Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark, there is a patient zero with a disease that is spreading throughout a secluded community, and that patient is Asa Elias Doyle, a geologist aboard Clay’s ark venture into space who has returned to earth.

Since the AIDS/HIV epidemic has been known, it is now considered a felony to have sexual relations or share a needle without letting your partner know you are HIV positive. If you do not tell them, and these actions commence it is considered a felony, and the repercussions are severe, with the possibility of jail for 7 years and a fine up to 5 grand. ( The Law). In recent news in the state of California, Governor Brown has changed the penalty for those who knowingly transmit the disease through sexual relations. Currently, the law in California states that if a person knowingly transmits the disease without informing their partner, they have committed a felony which is punishable by 3-8 years in prison. Under the new law which takes effect in the new year, the felony will be downgraded to a misdemeanor, and an imprisonment of 6 months (California). Even after the devastating effects that AIDS caused, there were still some people who knowingly spread the disease to others without telling them about it. Of course there are those that didn’t know they had the disease, despite healthcare officials recommending you get tested once a year if you are sexually active.

In Clay’s Ark, Eli knowingly spread this disease to the family that was trying to help him out, and the community that he now lives in is doing to same. Sure Eli didn’t want to spread the disease in the first place, but because of the compulsion of the organism inside of him, he had no choice but to, and the same goes for those he infected. Of course in this case, there is some disclosure to those they are going to infect before the deed is done, but it isn’t always on mutual terms, which can cause some discourse. Eli is different than those those who knowingly spread a disease only in the sense that he tries to keep the amount of those affected at a minimum for a short while, until the need to infect comes again. The only consequences of spreading the disease to others is the possible death of one victim, and having to move on to find someone else to infect.

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