Tuesday, December 19, 2006

December 18 Flu Update

Is this the re-emergence of flu in Europe? Birds in the zoo died in St. Petersburg....

and France is testing birds at a site where 4,000 birds died.

Indonesia is preparing to produce flu vaccines for people.

Fascinating post from Revere....an example of a resourceful Thai poultry country could teach us all something.

Slow news? ProMed has had only four posts on AI in December. There have been days with that many.

Cell-culture vaccine work is being conducted at the University of Maryland.

A Philippine Department gave the local media a briefing on bird flu. In theory, this is a good idea that could improve public awareness. In reality, it all depends on who does the briefing.

This Year In Review article from Hungary cites bird flu....

The top chemistry advancements includes the ability to synthesize the key ingredient in Tamiflu.

More state prep updates....Colorado concedes gaps but is happy with progress...

and Wisconsin reports basically the same...

and Oklahoma isn't much different.

The state of Washington is using its bird flu $$ to help prepare for disaster in general.

Federal Computer Week notes the the bird flu contributed to a focus on continuity planning this year.

A little holiday fun...test your readiness quotient.


At 1:28 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


And a good afternoon to you and your website visitors. Glad to see you back in business.

I would like direct everyone’s attention to the very last article on your site, by USA today, “Most people unprepared for disaster”, and the important message it conveys to us all. I would also like to take a brief moment to explain to you and all your readers why it seems I continuously rant and rail about the subject of pandemic preparedness, theoretical flu models, scientific and medical committees like the IOM, and why realism is so vitally important. I guarantee you won't see these following comments any place else in print.

Nearly every one of sane mind agrees that the probability of an avian influenza type pandemic is extremely low. However, if one were to manifest itself through efficient human-to-human transmission, then depending on the particular strain's lethalness, it could run the gamut from mild, to ultra-severe, or any place in between. The impact on societies, their critical infrastructures and systems, would be directly proportional to the intensity of the pandemic. No argument on this, as scientists, the medical community, and planners everywhere are grappling with these relationships and assumptions. This doesn’t size up the whole problem, though.

But, there is a terrible aspect about pandemic planning that never gets addressed, and that is what ol' Wulfgang calls - the highly probable impact of unrelated collateral events, which act as stress "multipliers", continuing to happen at the same time. And what are these ? These are normal traumatic unrelated natural events that are guaranteed to continue to occur simultaneously or concurrently within the US an Canada, no matter what the intensity of the pandemic is. These collateral natural events are: hurricanes and wind storms on the east of west US coasts, wild fires and earthquakes on the west coast and central US, blizzards and ice storms in the central and eastern US, Any one of these singular events alone, are extremely destructive and can cause billions of dollars of damage and multiple deaths and destruction, without a pandemic occurring. If anyone has had their electrical power shut down, or had to evacuate along the eastern US coast, or been effected by wildfires, then you grasp the personal impact and what I am saying. Millions of people are impacted by these normal ongoing cyclical annual occurrences, alone (people are still without power in the state of Washington, one week after that nasty storm last week). Any one of these events require a huge amount of intensive manpower and resources to mitigate. A resolution to any one of these terrible situation’s, might require a complete disregard of quarantines, social distancing, any interventions imposed during a pandemic.

Now interject a mild-to-moderate pandemic into these scenarios, and one gets some unbelievable "super scenario's" that are both incredible and frightening. Regional “emergency zones or entire geographical regions of confluence” start emerging across North America. One can easily see the pandemonium that could result from the lack of manpower available to quash the western forest brush fires, or, from the result of 10M+ people trying to flee a category four or five hurricane threatening the gulf and eastern US coast. Adequate gas supplies aren't available during a normal evacuation, let alone during a pandemic. Or, better still, what would be the impact on the population of the eastern US and Canada during a severe blizzard or ice storm, if no manpower or gas was available to restore electricity, or deliver fuel supplies ? Plausible and probable - absolutely.

I would like to point out that... planning for an avian flu type pandemic, whether as an individual or nation, is simply not as the mathematicians like to refer to as, a "mutually exclusive" event. It's not even a quality of life or political-agenda-of-the-day, issue. It’s all about common sense no matter what age group you fall in. Planning for an emergency should be more in line with the thought process that your very survival as a family, and all of us as a nation, could depend on it. Multiple catastrophic or even several mild disruptive events don't always happen serially, they can be in parallel, and probably will occur this way. This is the point: the problem I suspect, is much larger than just facilitating "drive-by flu shots", and making sure beds, triage, medicines and ventilators are available. Proper emergency planning is not just confined to the avian flu bug, it should all encompassing and should consider the concurrent natural events as well. The tenets and procedures prescribed for problem resolution during a natural catastrophe, may well violate the avian influenza strategic axiom's, and vice-versa.

Herbert George Wells said the readiness quotient best: "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe".



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