Sunday, December 09, 2007

December 9 Flu Update

South Dakota has collected 7oo birds samples for bird flu surveillance.

10,000 birds culled in Pakistan.

Indiana county declares itself ready for bird flu.

India is pledging $2m to bird flu fight.

CARE International is also supporting bird flu fight in Laos.


At 6:16 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


After reading your first article from South Dakota about state officials taking fecal and nasal samples from wild birds, I am wondering what the procedure for notification is if they actually find a case of HPAI ? Does the USDA issue a nationwide alert to the poultry growers in North America, or what ? So far, they have discovered dozens of instances of LPAI strains in wild birds, but it has been downplayed as inconsequential.

A couple of things stuck out in your Indiana article about their preparedness. First, was the statement that, “a response team will be prepared to respond to a pandemic outbreak”.
I guess my reaction to “a response team”, means it is singular, and my usual skeptical nature kicks in and asks … just one response team as if this is a natural disaster weather event like a severe snow or rain storm ? Do these planners really understand what they could be faced with – really ? I sincerely doubt it. This kind of thin preparation seems to be the norm.

There is a second interesting statement in the same article, from the Red Cross director, who says , “If it happens, this is bigger than anything that ever happened before”. Now this statement is getting a little closer to reality. The problem still is however, the Red Cross is a highly bureaucratic organization used to managing temporary shelters, coordinating meals and lodging for the displaced, and offering counseling support… most definitely not equipped nor trained in any way to deal with an influenza pandemic on the scale of 1918. At least in my opinion and based on my observation, they are an “in-and-out” volunteer organization. The Red Cross, along with the hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores and gas stations, could quickly find themselves overwhelmed with millions of panicky people – several dimensions beyond 9/11 or Katrina, in my opinion. I am not sure how they could plan for a national emergency of this magnitude without leadership from the top echelons, and I don’t see it.

The trouble with pandemic preparedness plans across North America is that people treat them like they do any other normal natural disasters they have experienced. All one has to do is look at what is happening with the mutated Ebola virus in Uganda at the present time, and you get a fair idea of what to expect: panic, quarantined areas, health care worker fatalities, lack of proper PPE and health care measures, violence and fear. And I might add, if anyone thinks those type reactions can only happen in African countries, then they need to think again. Very seriously think. The governments of Uganda and the Congo are not coming to rescue the villagers in any significant way (other than immediately closing their borders and limiting travel), and the US government here would react similarly and they’ve been warning states and citizens to be prepared: they have lots of solace and sympathy, but very little in the way of substance except emergency measures, when it comes down to it.

It has become very apparent to me that the recent H5N1 events in China, Poland, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, England and Sub-Sahara Africa, are all cause for significant concern as we closeout 2007. Many times in the press over the last 24 months, the threat of a pandemic has been described as a “slowing moving train”, and I believe this metaphor is turning out to be very prophetic. The H5N1 virus appears to be unstoppable.

The only problem is that there is no Casey Jones on board this train to hit the brakes, except maybe Dr. Nabarro, who has been pulling the warning whistle continuously.



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