Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30 Flu Update

South Korea is going all out with a massive cull to stop the bird flu in its tracks.

China is urging vigilance to keep flu from spreading into China.

Gartner (a consulting group) is telling companies to have extensive planning done by the second quarter of next year.

Among the suggestions offered Wednesday by a Gartner analyst at the research firm’s data center conference in Las Vegas: Store 42 gallons of water per data center worker--enough for a six-week quarantine--and don’t forget food, medical care, cooking facilities, sanitation issues and electricity.

FlaMedic, on his blog "Avian Flu Diary" gives an anatomy of the Quebec rumor and how it played out yesterday.

Helen Branswell spells out pretty much the same rumor, quoting Revere along the way. Niman says he was "hoaxed" by someone who pretended to be someone he knew. Anyway, the best part of the story quotes risk communication guru Peter Sandman (emphasis is mine).

In the era of the World Wide Web, sorting fact from fantasy can be tough when concern runs high and one website looks as reputable as the next, said Peter Sandman, a leading risk communications expert based in Princeton, N.J.

"Everybody who knows HTML now has equal access to the world," Sandman said.

He defended the contribution of rumours to public health, saying they play a key role in bringing to light disease outbreaks by countries that might wish to cover them up.

"WHO relies enormously on rumours as its early warning system," Sandman said.

"Long before a government tells the World Health Organization that something has happened the rumour mill tell the World Health Organization that something might have happened."

But he suggested sites that go out early with rumours should make that clear, and should correct themselves if the rumour turns out to be false.

Here is Revere's post on the issue.

The Indonesian Bird Flu Relief Committee has a new bird flu website.

A Labour minister in Britain says that the nation must have its own bird flu vaccine supplies if it is to be secure.

They'll be doing bird flu surveillance in Great Falls, MT.

Japan says its bird flu stocks are below satisfactory levels.

Apparently, a company that sells Tamiflu is using the WHO logo on its packaging, and WHO is not taking it lying down.

A suburban Chicago blogger has found public service brochures on bird flu at SPEEDWAY! This is from the "who would have thunk it" category.


At 2:33 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Like many of your readers, watching the bogus report of a 9 year old from Quebec unfold, was interesting. I know I was extremely skeptical from the beginning, for a bunch of reasons - but most of us have seen these scams before on the internet and have learned to recognize them and wait until authoritative sources verify and validate the event. It was very unfortunate, and Dr. Niman learned a hard lesson. Two other thoughts on the subject are important to realize, in my view: using the internet should entail a sense of integrity, ethics and values at all times. Unfortunately, individuals who purposefully and maliciously perpetuate scams with the intent to deceive others, don't seem to understand this. These types of people probably removed highway stop signs as children, just to see the cars wreck. Probably harmed animals too...

On the upside though, as several writer's point out, the internet worked extraordinary well as a communication system. Many of us believe as Fla_Medic do, that " one of these days, one of these 'unsubstantiated reports' will turn out to be valid". I personally absolutely believe this. This is why many government agencies, business entities and country representatives access these blog sites - as a leading indicator for what is happening and where.

Now, for "Pandemic Planning Urged by Gartner", great article. Readers should read what I am about to say, and read it twice because of its tremendous importance. One of the vital lessons learned from law enforcement, the federal government and individuals, during the Katrina disaster, was communications. It is absolutely essential that all parties maintain communications at all times during a crisis emergency. Whether by radio, internet, TV, or simple walkie-talkies, people must be able to communicate important information. Internet capability will play a very important component of emergency communications, and it should be a key ingredient of any influenza pandemic plan, in all situations.

Gartner's advice to store enough resources for a six week quarantine, is nearly right out of numerous government planning documents. In a quarantine or pandemic situation, nope, nobody is going anywhere. All Federal U.S. government agencies are now finalizing their pandemic Continuity-Of-Operations-Plans as this year ends. Most, if not all federal plans are now linked to and integrated with their state-county-local emergency plans. This is a nice way of telling everyone that the severity of the pandemic event(s), will determine the extent of the government reaction. Using Katrina and other known catastrophies as a model, these plans will not allow vaccines, anti-virals, hospital or emergency personnel, or any other supplies and utilities deemed vital, to be threatened.

The Speedway article - a good satire on the subject. But then, I wouldn't depend on a chain of gas stations for my medical advice either.



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