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A disease with a short latency period and very high mortality rate is not a good candidate for a pandemic. The key indicator is the average number of newly infected cases per infectious person. That, more than anything, is what drives an epidemic. The faster the disease kills its host, the lower that indicator.

To be really vicious, a disease should have a very long infectious period with no symptoms, followed eventually by a short illness and death -- HIV is an example. THIV has not become pandemic only because it is so hard to transmit, and cannot survive in the open air. Avian influenza, on the other hand, has a latency measured in days and very high mortality. These characteristics serve to reduce the overall predicted severity of the epidemic.

Ebola suffers from the same "problem": it is just too lethal. Local epidemics tend to burn out very quickly.

LC
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