Sunday, December 11, 2005

December 10 Flu Update--US flu simulation is complete

The US government's pandemic flu exercise is over. Reports are in from WaPo. The conclusion is that local governments need to be ready, because the Federal government can't do everything. I'm not sure if we needed an exercise to learn that, but if it brought the message home, than its still a good thing. Why can't we do an Internet-based simulation with state and local officials from around the country?

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the federal government alone cannot handle a major flu outbreak. "State and local governments, state and local communities, schools need to have a plan, businesses need to have a plan, faith organizations need to have a plan," he said. "The public health community understands a pandemic. . . . It's now time to engage a broader community so that we have a true nationwide response effort that's not only planned, but exercised and ready."
In a related topic, the New York Times has editorialized that the US is not spending enough on flu surveillance in Asia and Africa, and is passing along the costs to the states.

At home, Mr. Bush's proposal would require the states to pay 75 percent of the cost of flu medicines, and give little help for surveillance or increasing hospital capacity. The states are apparently expected to plan a response and figure out how to pay for it. We know how that worked with Hurricane Katrina


The Indonesian government said that it wanted to vaccinate 47 million people who were in contact with birds, but doesn't have the money. Their stated goal is to prevent the mutation of the virus.

The Thai Prime Minister has urgently told his nation to be more alert to bird flu--right down to the family level after a recent death.

``The boy's relatives didn't inform the doctors that some of the chickens in their house were dead, so the doctor didn't know the risk of bird flu until the lab results came out, when it was too late to cure with medicine,'' Thaksin said in his weekly radio address today. ``We have asked all medical staff at hospitals nationwide to be more cautious of patients with flu- like symptom. We have to be more cautious to prevent any further bird flu deaths.''
The Ukraine bird flu has hit 19 Crimean communities.

In Romania, a new bird flu case has been discovered....in a bird.

After bird flu was found in two ostriches in Zimbabwe, people in Zambia are on high alert.

19,000 birds are being culled in Japan, where only H5N2 has been found.

The Mankato Free Press is writing about pandemic flu planning in their area. Their experience is informed by a 1995 meningitis outbreak. My casual observation is that points of reference like this lead to better planning, because you can think "this would be even worse than that was." Finally, the author's name is Dylan Thomas. I can't get over that.

State health experts warn a worst-case flu pandemic would sicken so many so suddenly, it would cause a breakdown of the “human infrastructure.”

Hospitals would be overwhelmed, law enforcement agencies and public utilities would be short on personnel, and some businesses may close for short periods.
The Delaware News Journal says the worst case US Scenario is 2 million flu deaths.

In China, the "fifth" bird flu victim has recovered, and was back at the hospital for a checkup.

There is controversey in Canada, where a Vancouver flu-skeptic has accused the government of buying Tamiflu merely to reassure the public. He goes so far as to say that the government should buy the drug in a powder form, because it has more than a five year shelf life.

Here's a rarity--Japan has announced that it will give part of its Tamiflu stockpile to SE Asian countries to help prevent flu spread.

Effect Measure has an analysis of why no one trusts China, involving an arrest of someone who talked about bird flu.

Here's an optimistic look ahead at the bird flu vaccine from the Manchester Union Leader. Whatever you think on the topic, this is worth a read.

Recombinomics cites a report that says that the H5N1 is a version not seen anywhere else. This report seems a little hasty to be accurate, but time will tell.

ProMed on 2 recent outbreaks in Vietnam.

Crofsblogs pointed me to this...a preview of an upcoming report due from the House of Lords on the pandemic grinding Britain to a halt. I continue to think that the non-biological impacts of the flu are the most under-studied and we are most under-prepared for. The most traumatizing part of the pandemic will be how we react to it.

Note tonight, that the National Geographic Channel is going to have a show on the bird flu. 9 Eastern on Sunday, December 12.

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