- What If Cows Didn't?by aryr
This work has reached the exceptional level
Death by a non-discovery.
What If Cows Didn't? by aryr
What If? contest entry

'What if' is a great way to start a story. It makes one think about how things could have been different it the approach was different. There are too numerous possibilities to consider.
Louis Pasteur was misdirected student. Sure, he was a good artist, that fact was proven by the documentation that there were paintings of his parents in Paris. He was a fickle son, just bordering on being a disgrace to his father who worked so hard. His was a tanner thus he was a skilled person. My thinking is that he knew a little chemistry for the process. He was also loyal to his country being a decorated sergeant major.

Many opportunities arose for Louis, but little interested him other than painting, drawing and the chemistry or rather the process involved in the pasteurization of milk. This was indeed a good contribution to society. He made milk safer for human consumption.

Imagine waking from a much needed nap because of a coughing spell. The bedding is sopping wet from excessive sweating. You notice that your children are listless and feverish. The boy has been complaining a couple of days. He has been nauseous, not wanting to eat, and when he does he has projectile vomiting. Your wife has a rash. Her hands, arms, neck and face are affected. Gut feeling tells you that everyone will die, if a cure can not be found.

With earlier travel by wagon to the major city, you were told that people all across the country were dying from mysterious causes. Everyone is concerned that it is a resurrection of the Black Death, the Bubonic Plague which swept through England. How did it get to the USA? That had occurred in the mid 1300's, it was now the mid 1800's.

With the Bubonic Plague animals infected humans. The rats were initially considered the cause of this black death, when it was really the fleas that carried the disease. The cold winter weather decreased the spread of the disease because it destroyed a large amount of the rats and the fleas. However, it wasn't until the great fire of London that enough fleas were destroyed to make a difference.

Did you know that this disease is naturally in soils around the world? Because animals do walk about eating grass and hay etc, they could be slightly infected. If they were severally infected they would show symptoms and probably would infect their human owners.

Because of the various modes that one can be affected by, the death count would be astronomical. Infected animals both mildly and severely infected consumed by mankind and by other animals would create a vicious circle. A circle that could not be broken.

What was safe to eat? Surely not the animals themselves. So many babies would die before they had a chance to live, simply because they drank the milk of the animals. Would the products made from the grown things such as corn, vegetables, grains be considered safe? Not likely.

There would be mass panic. Was there anywhere in the world not contaminated? Was there anywhere safe, where people could survive? Again, not likely.

The young would die, the old would die, all would die. It would be a horrible death. If the disease was contracted through inhalation, at the best the person would have about a week to live. There would be a variety of symptoms depending on the contact.

Those who inhaled the spores would have chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing as well as fevers, chills, confusion related to decrease oxygen intake, sweats, tiredness, aches and pains.

Remember that this is only one way of four that you can get this disease. Regardless of how you contact it, you will still die.

Mind you the strong would survive and the world would continue. Population would be lessened. The weak would succumb to the disease. Those who farmed and raised animals for human consumption would be the primary ones affected. People would be advised to wash the fruits and vegetables and probably over cook the meats.

Let us fast forward in time. Terrorists and those who are cruel minded would discover this disease process. Knowing that there is no cure, they could devastate the future of mankind.
I am sure everyone is aware of anthrax, I do believe the biggest scare would be via the mail service, when the powder form was laced onto the paper. Image the number of deaths that could have occurred. Imagine the fear of each person holding a letter that might be contaminated. It definitely becomes a 'what if' moment. It was equal to if not worse than the black plague.
Anthrax or bacterium bacillus anthracis. It can occur in four forms, via the initial contact- skin, lungs, intestinal and the most horrible being injection. Because powder was used in the mailings, and there have been several, the spread would be two-fold. Primarily it would be through the lungs, inhaled and secondarily would be via the skin, if there is a small scratch or cut on the new victim. Intestinal usual comes from eating contaminated food. Food such as under cooked meat. If you like your rare steak, you may want to reconsider. Injected anthrax would be the result of a very sick mind, of a terrorist mind planning to destroy a country.

I think one should be aware that it is the spores of anthrax that are toxic and can cause death in just a few days. Inhalation is the worst form of contact. It is considered a serious infectious disease and is a gram-positive bacteria, yet it is not contagious. One has to come in contact through one of the four modes.

But 'what if' Louis Pasteur did not discover various vaccines? What if he was not a microbiologist? What if he did not discover the potential treatment for anthrax? The use of antibiotics within 24 hours of the disease diagnosis.

He was a curious child watching his father complete his tanning process. This was one of the man's two careers, his other was with the services. It is felt that both of these career choices instilled Louis' curiosity and determinations.

The other thing noteworthy was the fact that he had an artistic talent, which probably proved helpful in his diagrams and studies. He had a Bachelor degree in both arts and sciences.
Among his discoveries were pasteurization, fermentation that caused disease, medical microbiology and vaccines. Thank goodness, he was who he was and did what he did. The world is a safer place because of his contribution of controlling anthrax.


Author Notes
Thanks to Anne for the picture Moooooo. Also- Thank you to Encyclopedia Britannica for information regarding Louis Pasteur, to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for information regarding Anthrax and Bubonic Plague.


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