A Convention of Bugs; or, The 2015 Diseases of Infections Communicability Consortium

It was at a closed-door session of the 2015 Diseases of Infections Communicability Consortium (a.k.a. DICC) in San Diego that things really got out of control. The panel was headlined by Paramyxovirus (aka Mumps), Mycobacterium (aka TB), Bordetella Pertussis (aka Whoops), Corynebacterium diphtheria (aka Dip), Varicella (aka Pox) and last, but certainly not least, Polio. The subject of the conference was the seemingly out of control behavior of Rubeola (aka Measles) who was not in attendance. The discussion on the table was whether or not to take the lead of Rubeola, who had gone "rogue" in an attempt to gain national notoriety and, according to Poliovirus, wanted to "game the system" in an attempt to garner national exposure. According to T.B., Rubeola was already represented by ICM and plans were in the making for the major commercial projects. Both Stewart and Colbert were eager to invite the rogue virus and Random House allegedly inked the virus for a two-book deal into the seven figures. The Weinstein Company was first in line for the film deal. The discussion often got heated in an attempt to see what actions the other viruses were going to take. What follows is a transcription of some of the discussion before it was discovered that they were being recorded by "Anne Onymous" at which point the transcription ends abruptly, but not before the discussion went viral.

(Background noise. Gavel banging. Paper shuffling)

Mumps: Could I have your attention, please. (gavel banging) I don't want to draw this out since we're all a bit under the weather. Even I have some swelling of the salivary glands, especially my parotid so let's get started. (sound of drinking water) You all know why we're here. Rubeola has gone rogue. Not only is he out of control he's attempting to cash in on his newly found notoriety by hiring ICM as his literary agent.

Whoops: Do you have (coughs) evidence of that?

Mumps: Absolutely. TB?

Apparently, TB was having a hard time speaking.

Mumps: Are you alright?

TB: Sorry, been Fatigued recently. Fever, night sweats, chills, loss of appetite that sort of thing.

Mumps: Is there anything we can do?

TB: No, you have all done enough, it'll pass. But I know for a fact that he's getting exposure from the likes of politicians like Chris Christie and Rand Paul and Paul's father John Paul Paul. If Rubeola is not stopped soon, why, he might spread across the United States.

Polio: Yeah, while we sit here, or in my case lie here in this iron lung, we get absolutely no attention whatsoever. Damn vaccines.

Dip: My sources tell me that Rubeola is actually getting kickbacks from both those politicians! I hear he's starting a German franchise as well! Rubella! Can you imagine! What's next, rougeole in France or morbillo in Italy! He'll corner the market!

Mumps: It's absolutely clear that we have to take action against Rubeola if we're going to make a comeback as diseases of the future. I think we've waited long enough!

All: Here, here!

Mumps: We've been patient too long. There's no reason why we can't cash in the same way Rubeola has!

All: Here, here!

Mumps: I think we need to remind ourselves just who we are!

All: Here, here!

Mumps: Let's go around the horn here. Speaking for myself, prior to the vax, I was infecting almost a quarter of a million people and was responsible for dozens of deaths. After vax everything went to hell in a hand basket! Except for a slight uptick in 2010, things haven't been the same. We need to change that!

Dip: I agree. Without vax, 40-50% of infected humans die, with the highest death rates occurring adults over forty and children under five. I'm especially proud of that. Even with vax about ten percent of Dip patients die. In a good year, I could infect over fifty million people and cause up to 300,000 deaths worldwide. Those are terrific numbers! But do Iget the credit I deserve! No!!!!

All: Here, here! (lots of table banging)

Whoops: Well, I can do Dip one better. Ninety-percent of my deaths have been among infants under twelve months and half of those are hospitalized! (Applause) Of those infants who are hospitalized with pertussis about a quarter will end up with pneumonia; one percent will have convulsions; two thirds will have apnea; and one percent will die. Those are the kinds of numbers I can be proud of!

All: Here, here!

Polio: Well, as one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century my track record speaks for itself. Before vax were available, I caused more than fifteen thousand cases of paralysis each year in the U.S alone. But then along came vax and thanks to him I've been eradicated from the U.S. and the entire Western Hemisphere. It just isn't fair that Rubeola can get all the headlines and the rest of us merely languish.

Pox: I couldn't agree more with polio. Before vax, I could count on infecting about four million people a year. About ten thousand of them were hospitalized, and one to two percent died every year. Ever since vax, those numbers have declined dramatically and if it keeps up, I could become an endangered species!

Mumps: Last, but not least, let's hear from TB.

TB: I'm (cough) second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer. (Applause) In 2013, I infected nine million people and over ten percent of them died. (Applause) I'm proud to say (cough) that I rank in the top five causes of death for women aged fifteen to forty and only a couple years ago I happily infected a half-million children and eighty thousand HIV-negative children died.

Mumps: Don't you all see. Together we can outstrip cancer as one of the leading causes of death in the world and especially among children. It's incumbent upon us to make a comeback and not allow Rubeola to steal our thunder!

All: Here, here!

Mumps: I'm proposing that we hire a top PR agency to promote our comeback. Who wants to handle that?

TB: (cough) I will.

Mumps: Great. Together I believe we can dominate the world. We just need to do it!

Pox: Hey, isn't that the guy who videotaped Romney's forty-seven percent speech.

Dip: Where?

Pox: Over there, by the bar.

Dip: Sonofabitch! Hey, you turn off that recorder!

(sound of screeching chairs, overturned tables)

Exact transcription of the meeting that has gone viral. Please pass this along. There's safety in numbers.