Monday, November 06, 2006

November 5 Flu Update

A little while ago, we had a story from WHO suggesting that there was a genetic element to people's ability to get the bird flu. I said I thought it made sense, since so few people get bird flu--even directly from birds. Effect Measure now weighs in with the idea that while it is possible there is a genetic component, it is not the whole story.

There is much more to the question of genetic influence on H5N1 infection than the implied inference that the reason someone gets bird flu lies in their genes. Infectious disease is an interaction between a host, its environment and the agent. Isolating one element can provide important information but doesn't correspond to the real world.

In Australia, near Asia, a pandemic business plan is a must.

Bird flu test kits have arrived in Uganda.

Britain apparently could order 3M body bags in pandemic alert.

Anchorage Daily News says that one year ago, all you heard was doomsday flu prophecies. Today, not so much. Still, Alaskan officials have their eye on the ball.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


The Effective Measure article, "Not all in our genes" points out a little more eloquently what I said a few days ago - to assert that the H5N1 infections are more prone to genetic predisposition in humans, based on a small family cluster, is just a flimsy theory at this point. As indeed the article concludes, "infectious deseases are an interaction between the host, its environment and the agent, isolating just one element is not real world analysis". In the scientific and real world, a conclusion or postulation based upon a single event or set of circumstances, makes a faulty and misleading theory. Multiple interactive data at minimum must show supporting trends.

And planning for enough body bags...what an unpleasant but necessary subject for discussion. I applaud the officials in Great Britain for their realism and pragmatism. Quick calculation indicates that they may be planning for a worst case scenario of 5% mortality, based upon their 60M population. Three million body bags. This is an astounding number and relates directly to the 1918 fatality rate during the great influenza pandemic. Expect a similar speculative planning leak of this sort in the U.S. in the near future. While this is an unpleasant subject, it must be dealt with before time and events overtake us.



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