Sunday, November 26, 2006

November 26 Flu Update

The New York Times is finally covering the NEJM articles from last week. They are focusing on the slow test results and how they impact treatment.

The Director-General-elect of WHO has pleaded with the world for transparency.

South Korea is ramping up its bird flu quarantine program.

Nebraska Wildlife officials are warning that cranes--a local favorite of nature lovers--could bring avian flu back with them next year.

Another great article on the 1918 flu, this time based in St. Paul, MN.

Planning is ongoing in Vermont, where they think 3,000 people could die in a pandemic.

Biologists in OK are testing for bird flu.

An educational program is being conducted in Eastern China.

And, it is the second blogiversary of Effect Measure. The Reveres write on what it means to them, and what they have to look back on. Effect Measure is a rock solid resource for those of us interested in this subject. For laypeople, the key is to find the people with the training who are still outspoken and original thinkers. The Reveres fill that bill. Here's to...I don't many more years?

(Hard to believe, but we're just a month and a day away from our own 2-year mark).


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


The St. Paul article "Could next outbreak rival 1918 flu?" hits on some of the same key issues and critical information scientists and planners are grappling with regarding the avian influenza today, just as they were in 1918. We actually know so very little after 100 years. Many of us have continually pointed out that the parallels between now, 2006, and the years 1917 & 1918, are too incredibly amazing not to ignor. The coincidences are too similar, almost eery. To name a few, as the relates: "little short news items from out of town in the newspapers (i.e. influenza reports)", "conclusion that the 1918 deadly virus jumped directly from infected poultry to humans", the "H5N1 is 10 times more lethal in case mortality (i.e. than the 1918 fatality rate)", and "front pages of newspapers bannering war news (i.e. distractions)".

But what the author also mentions is what should be setting off alarm bells everywhere in everyone's mind - "the modern world is much less able to handle it (i.e a modern day pandemic)" due to JIT delivery systems, and "the domino impact will be huge if travel is interrupted", and finally the best of all, "any major crisis will overwhelm the system".

Most of your readers will read this article and dismiss it as too alarmist, some will ignor it, some will want to wait until the major news networks sound the alarm bells for them, and a few will unfortunately treat the pandemic threat (and continuous warnings) as simply a Y2K type one-time aberration, or a temporary inconvenience. They will be unprepared in the simplest of terms.

Behind the scenes, nothing could be further from the truth. Certain agencies in the federal government are in fact truly planning for and expecting the worst. Worse than 1918. Very smart people whom you don't hear about - you all only hear the Chan's, Osterholm's, Webster's, Branwell's, Revere's and Nabarro's, as well as the WHO, CDC and HHS, who beat the same drum in the news media hoping to get the message across. However, there is a large silent majority in federal service who believe that the mutation of an H5N1 virus into a human pandemic is inevitable. I am one, for a variety of reasons, which I cannot go into. What's occurring in S. Korea could be the small tip of the iceberg.

A pandemic will be stealthy. It will be unnoticeable at first, and seem like localized and regional outbreaks, before it manifests itself. It will be a series of events, not just a one time epidemic. As the warnings indicate, it could tear the fabric of our society apart at the seams if it cannot be temporarily halted so as to give enough time to produce a suitable vaccine. And worse of all, some stages and events will progress rapidly at lightning speed.

Look for a much larger and more expansive news media blitz on this subject at the start of 2007. Nobody will say they weren't informed.

Have a good evening.


At 8:27 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Very interesting comment, Wulfgang. Of course, if I didn't believe what you describe as happening could actually happen, I wouldn't have this blog.

The 1918 metaphor is so powerful--and if H5N1 was only as bad as that, we would more than have our hands full.

My question is this: will the silent majority have enough power to effect change?

In a sense, spinning worst case scenarios is not hard. People just don't believe they will happen. To get them to believe it, you have to soften it a little.

Nonetheless, I am glad to hear that some people are indeed taking this seriously. Hopefully they won't get branded as "nuts," as people with warnings often are.

Have a great evening. Thank you for reading.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Since there’s no new news to elaborate on, I’d like to reply to your above comments…

The “silent majority” I am referring to are those of us who work in other federal agencies, but not HHS, CDC, USDA or the WHO – they are the designates who clearly have the lead in pandemic planning, interpretation of data, national and world health strategy and the flow of public information release. However, there are many other significant agencies involved in Continuity-Of-Operations- Planning, but take a back seat (publicly), since our main charters are aligned with national security and defense. Without going into details, there is a lot of worry. Bare in mind, the facts are that during a moderate-to-severe case pandemic event, the aforementioned health agencies, may not be able sustain viable operations, and the preservation of infrastructure, social and economic order, and enforcement will fall on the shoulders of the heavy-weights. In a worst case situation, the unthinkable begins to happen. We all have our own pre-determined stages which we will react to and respond. We will have the power to maintain the order, but not effect change.

Yes, people with warnings are often branded as “nuts”. My viewpoint is: advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most, always like it the least. In my thirty five years of government service I have never seen the concern, or unease, as there is present. How does one soften-up a potential unfolding catastrophe ?

My last checkup went fine, no brain tumors or physical or mental irregularities were noted. However, “Semel insanivimus omnes”, I guess.


At 9:28 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Wulfgang--hang in there, update is coming.


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