Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 17 Flu Update

A death in Togo is being attributed to H5N1, though lab tests are not completed.

Vietnam's PM is pushing for a stronger bird flu fight.

A bird in a market in Hong Kong is H5N1+

Helen Branswell on the new WHO regulations.

“We've been able to change the norm. Countries understand now that you can't hide infectious diseases and that it's honourable to report, even if it costs you money,” said Heymann, assistant director general for communicable diseases and the Geneva-based agency's pandemic preparedness czar.

Could one shot protect against all versions of the flu?

Excellent article from Eugene OR, imploring the community to be better prepared for bird flu.

Planning for a flu pandemic must be accelerated. As Springfield Fire Chief Murphy puts it, "Who says we get any longer to prepare than tomorrow or the day after?"


At 6:27 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your article out of Eugene Oregon, by John Bonine, really sums up some of the major issues associated with state and local pandemic planning (or lack thereof).

First, nobody should assume where extremely contagious diseases are involved, whether it is measles, TB or influenza, that infected citizens will “do the right thing” and self quarantine themselves. This is a bad assumption. It should be no surprise people simply “can’t be taken for their word” that they are not going to go out into public and infect the rest of us. It’s naïve to think otherwise. We have too many documented cases of irresponsibility in the news.

Note the gigantic planning discrepancy in the article about planning for a 1918-like “2 percent” fatality rate, versus the reality of today’s CFR of H5N1 human influenza deaths: more like a minimum of 60 per cent death rate is what we experiencing to date – and it appears to be actually climbing higher in many countries. In my view, unless proven otherwise, to wishfully incorporate a 58 per cent attenuation decline in the CFR into planning assumptions, is assuming a lot at this early point. If we had a 60% failure rate on 2007 automobile engines, would we base our risk assumptions on 1918 automobile statistics ?

The most significant “poke out” of the article, centers on the overall inability of state and local officials to define what the “trigger points” are in their emergency plans for closing down entire school systems: when should they be shut down, who has the authority to do it, are the closures involuntary or compulsory, what is the duration, and what actual provisions are in place for at-home internet education ? These are pretty fundamental questions in my book, that need some answers.

I suspect we have many similar unaddressed situations all across the US - by the thousands – the old saying prevails, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”.

I am not surprised by the results of John Bonine’s investigative journalism. Most people do not fully understand nor appreciate the immensity of life changing events,that a novel virus induced pandemic could bring, in very short order. They border on the unimaginable and nightmarish: No pandemic vaccine available in time to be of any major assistance; the possibility of overflowing hospitals with sick individuals; huge numbers of deaths in a very short time; interrupted economic and public services of every kind; few if any goods, food or medicines available for intermittent periods – and voluntary quarantines to avoid illness or death.

One can only conclude if a pandemic emerged next month, most people would be in very serious trouble, because like most people in third world countries, they are ignoring the risk.



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