Sunday, November 12, 2006

November 11 Flu Update

A new outbreak in birds has been reported in Egypt.

ProMed on this outbreak, and a recent one from China.

China's first reported bird flu case--a 10 year old boy--is alive and well a year later.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has the story of another projection on the damage of a bird flu, which in a worst case, is suitably catastrophic. Interesting that it suggests investment might flee less stable countries for old world countries.

A computer model of an "ultra severe" flu pandemic shows it would leave more than 140 million people dead worldwide and cost the global economy more than $4 trillion —- but that its effect on the economies of the United States and Western Europe would be relatively mild.

The State of Utah is working on its pandemic plan.

A Connecticut woman has taken the advice on how to prepare for the flu seriously--she monitors

Florida State is using a magnet to learn how the bird flu works.


At 1:14 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Some quick observations, and of course opinions, which may assist your readers, about the very excellent article "Wallop of flu played down", by Jeff Smith of the Cox Washington Bureau. First, the article is very well written and describes the economic effects, variables and results of Australian Warwick McKibbin's model, when he cranks in the four different pandemic scenarious. The conclusions he and Joshua Epstein of the NIH both reach, are alarmingly realistic, but like most, are a little off the mark by being too conservative.

Here's why - first, the McKibbin model does not appear to address the numerous "waves of infection" of a pandemic which are likely, in other words, the interdepencies and effects involved in probably 1-2-3 successive influenza wave's of differing severities. Nor does it address the possibility of more than one pandemic strain in the "ultra" scenario. Secondly, neither of the models realistically factor in the cataclysmic economic and social effects of the immediate and sustained geographic disruption of goods and services adequately. In severe and ultra pandemic scenarios, make no mistake folks, deliveries of all essential pharmaceuticals, food and manufactured commodities - will cease nearly completely, and for an extended period of time. Air and ocean transportation will grind to a halt. Escape to your mountain cabin hideaway will be out of the question. Very little of anything would flow in or out of counties or across borders, as quarantines are invoked by nearly every country, in order to buy precious preparation time in order to initiate emergency operations. Inter-state deliveries and travel will grind to a halt. Third, and most importantly - the world today contains 4X the population of 1918, or 7.8B compared to a paltry 1.8B in 1918. One doesn't need a college math degree to extrapolate deaths to approach the 400-500M range worldwide (minimally) during an ultra pandemic, regardless of advances in medicine. Dr. Michael Osterholm recently in a meeting in Toronto predicted up to 1B deaths. Presently, todays resources are not evenly distributed in countries throughout the world and at least 75% of the world lives day-by-day at the starvation level. Finally, I absolutely agree that even though capital would flow to the U.S. and Europe during a pandemic, however the movement of money doesn't feed nations or guarantee essential delivery of food, goods and services to anyone on a timely basis. Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami proved this.

My viewpoint is that the U.S. has a lot to lose if a severe-to-ultra pandemic breaks out. Incredible as it sounds, those with a horse and buggy may be the only few who end up mobile. In fact, Amish life is looking more and more appealing to me every day.


At 5:55 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Wulfgang--A couple thoughts. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate all your feedback. My view is that the first wave is the one we primarily have to worry about. Once a pandemic strain emerges, we have six months until we have a vaccine on board, so successive waves should be less serious. Also, some immunity will have been conferred through exposure.

It is difficult to "realistically" factor in "cataclysmic" results. They are very difficult to predict. Yes, many, many things could happen (including multiple strains). At the same time, it isn't likely everything will go wrong, either.

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

I agree wulfgang that a pandemic would result in a catastrophic breakdown in the worlds distribution channels.However the worlds population is 6.525 billion not 7.8 and Amish people will have more contact with animals as they live on farms .They would be exposed to different dangers than us but they would still have contact with the virus.

At 8:52 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Indeed, there are so many unknowns involved in pandemic estimates and senarios, they are very diffiult to predict. One thing to consider though, nearly every year the U.S. government proudly announces that there are plenty of seasonal flu vaccine available. However, they fall woefully short in distibuting it, citing nebulous distribution and shipping delays. Actually delivery of normal flu vaccine seems to be always 2-4 months late in most areas. Many areas of our country are still waiting for the current vaccine to be delivered. My educated guess is to take the publicized 6 month pandemic vaccine delivery and double it during a pandemic, to 12 months. One more point that many people do not know: the first wave of the 1918 pandemic was relatively normal, many people got sick, but relatively few people actually died. There was no major alarm bells ringing. However, it was during the second wave which occurred approximately six months later, when many people started dying from cytokine storm, due to a H1N1 mutated strain. The third wave in the following year 1919 still caused a significant number of deaths.

Certain U.S. government agencies are very nervous about a probable influenza pandemic, along with the potential for a protracted severe social and economic disruption during an ultra type pandemic, trust me. They are not at all overly concerned with a mild to moderate type epidemic.

Wayne, my friend, you seem to have got me. I shouldn't have been so careless. The worlds population is indeed 6.552B. I still believe though Mr. McKibben will miss the fatality count by many factors during a severe to ultra pandemic. Let's hope I'm wrong.



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