Flu viruses gain entry to human cells by carrying antigens on their surface, which act as passports to the interior of the cell. To the cell, they appear as legitimate and true, and are allowed in. Once inside, their mission is virtually complete, as they hijack the cell’s machinery to produce millions of new viruses, and then kill the cell, releasing them to infect other cells.
The body’s defences consist of antibodies tuned to identify and neutralise the viral antigens outside the cells before cell infection takes place, and other less specific processes that prevent virus manufacture, or even totally destroy the infected cell before it can release new virus. Anti-viral drugs mainly act to slow or prevent virus manufacture. Antibodies only arise from prior sub-lethal exposure to the antigens or by vaccination. It is because the antigens are constantly being randomly reconfigured in the animal reservoir, that human antibody immunity is always lagging behind, and new vaccines are needed every year.
Swine flu spreads readily over the air, but rarely kills. Bird flu kills readily, but can only pass between people with difficulty. Every WHO virologist’s nightmare is where they combine their deadly attributes.
In my understanding, heresy very closely resembles the flu. Its reservoir is hard to point a finger at, but I think it lies in the pool of semi-rational thinking that goes on at the “dearly beloved” edges of Catholicism.
Semi-rationality is a wonderful breeding ground for new ideas, new takes on old ideas, or old ideas badly remembered.
Heresy only becomes “incarnate” in a heresiarch. This poor soul is one in whom one or more truth-like viruses have started breeding. Remember, like a virus, a heresy has an ability to spread, and a separate ability to kill (the soul). The killer heresy has both, in abundance. Such arise rarely, but have great potency.
Preventing and fighting a pandemic is the same in the Church, and in the world of medicine:
1) Eternal vigilance for variance in the antigens/dangerous currents of theological thought.
2) Vaccination/education against known dangerous distortions of doctrine
2) Elimination of virus/heresy reservoirs.
3) Quarantine of infected/heretical cases.
4) Intensive care for those dangerously ill, though success may not be guaranteed.
Thank goodness for the WHO, but thank God even more for the Pope and the CDF!