Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 14 Flu Update

There's a new case in Egypt. A 10-year old girl has bird flu.

The FDA has announced a new pandemic plan. It will, in part, attempt to figure out how to test for bird flu in the food supply.

CIDRAP has this on the FDA plan, including more on food safety proposals.

CIDRAP also on yesterday's announcement that Indonesia is holding out for a vaccine sharing agreement.

Effect Measure on yesterday's story on the ability to stretch the stockpile by using adjuvants, combining one vaccine with another, etc.


You remember there was a scare when three Australian scientists working with bird flu were feared to have contracted the disease. Tests were negative.

Green Valley AZ is holding bird flu meetings to show they take a pandemic seriously.

Special bird flu measures created in Myanmar.

The USDA and the UN are going to pool knowledge on a variety of issues, including bird flu.

Middlebury College (VT) is preparing a pandemic plan.

ProMed on the migratory bird debate, which seems to be tilting away from migration, from what I can see. Note the mod comment:

One should never say "never", but the authors' comment that "the risk and probably the frequency of intercontinental virus transfer inthis region are relatively low" would seem to be cautiously on the high side, that is, the risk is probably negligible. - Mod.MHJ, JW

ProMed also has news from Afghanistan, and a search for some obscure data from Djibouti.

1 Comments:

At 7:30 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...

Orange;

Feeling a little under the weather today so I’m going to limit my comments to one key article.

The most outstanding article you posted today is far and away, the Middlebury College article, which outlines their extensive and serious pandemic planning to date. It is quite obviously based on fundamental first class realism, that every college and university should use as a model. The fact that they are among the first schools to adopt an evacuation-based response plan for a pandemic, says it all.

Their conclusion that, contrary to misconceptions, isolated Middlebury College is not the place where students should be when a pandemic strikes, and will face forced quick closure and dispersal of the students within 24 hours, is excellent. Requiring their students, starting when they register for spring classes in November of this fall, to submit two possible personal evacuation locations they could get to, and submit their strategy for how they would get there, is amazing.

The fact that they must identify two locations based on geographically distinct locations in case one is at the center of a pandemic flu, or the student is unable to find transportation to a specific area, is literally astounding to me. Even their final step in the process of leveraging off of their Geography professors to design GIS systems that will enable school planning officials to identify major travel patterns and help them find transportation, is stupendous.

Even with all this incredible insight into their pandemic planning, I did find a little fault in their logic that is cause for concern, such that they should seriously re-think their approach - including individuals reading this: their planning assumptions are primarily based upon a “six –level plan”, where, “at low risk levels where a pandemic flu was still abroad or only apparent in isolated cases within the United States, the college would remain open, limiting travel to affected areas and possibly postponing the arrival of visitors from those areas…. The director of the Health Center would monitor the pandemic situation and, if necessary, advise the campus of a possible closure”.

Here’s what wrong with this logic:

• A pandemic by its very nature is global in nature, it should not be viewed in the same terms as a normal influenza outbreak, where infections are actually quite gradual and manageable, even in widespread regional outbreaks.

• The very first time a cluster of US citizens, anywhere in the US or Canada, get severely ill (and deaths start occurring) with H5N1 or attributable to some other type novel pandemic influenza, emerges in the US, that the population is not vaccinated for – you have got to react quickly and get your students out; and forget about “moving up a graduated six-level plan” or waiting for government officials to provide specific direction. Every day’s delay with such a high concentration of young people in one location, means that the personal risk to students and teacher’s elevates significantly. This same theory applies to personal family planning and preparations also.

• The students and their parents will be pulling their students out long before the director of the Health Center finally decides an evacuation is necessary, under this approach. Neither parents nor students are going to stick around waiting for a college official to given them direction.

• The biggest problem I see in their approach, is failure to recognize that some students, especially from foreign countries, will have no where to go, or means to get there, when it comes to an actual evacuation – so provisions will have to be made for them. Regardless of the best conceived plans.

Still, an outstanding job being done by Middlebury College, when compared to some of the other big prestigious named schools, especially some of those hair brained snobby Ivy League ones, that can’t seem to even understand what influenza is. All parents with students in college should read this article carefully, as they develop their own family preparation plans.

I really have an ulterior motive for highlighting this college preparedness article. I believe things are getting gradually more serious…some of it not so obvious, unless one follows the news articles carefully and pays attention:

• In the news today, it was announced that six Asian nations – China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (but not Indonesia, curiously enough) – conducted the region’s first table-top emergency exercise and practice scenario. It was funded by the US Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the CDC. It was designed and run by these countries, along with health specialists from the RAND Corporation, one of the top US military think tanks… who are key consultants in our military industrial and intelligence complex. This was not a run-of-the-mill exercise, this was a true pandemic preparation assessment in motion.

• Not in the news, is the fact that all the top executives in nearly all US agencies are quietly arranging for command centers at remote locations for their key operations, in the event of a severe pandemic. They will relocate to these remote locations, along with their families, to run their critical operations. This is a fact. This has been going on for some time now, and locations are not being disclosed for obvious reasons. This is all part of the COOP plans being finalized this year, and part of the true preparation in motion, being quietly undertaken.

Middlebury College officials said in their article, “… the scenario they are planning for seems unlikely. But they are convinced that a pandemic flu scenario is not so fantastic as it sounds. The public health officials told us to pay attention to this and plan for it”.

There are four kinds of people in the world, three of which are to be avoided and the fourth cultivated: those who don't know that they don't know; those who know that they don't know; those who don't know that they know; and those who know that they know.

Wulfgang

 

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