Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 14 Flu Update

Woman died of bird flu in Indonesia. She died at home after leaving the hospital AMA. They are said to have had chickens in their back yard.

CIDRAP has this as well. Note also that the most recent case is still on a respirator.

Finally, ProMed, including the grim stats behind the story.

Bird flu found in Bengal, India. Culling to begin.

Bill Gates is putting $39M into flu protection.

The ACLU wants to know in pandemic plans threaten civil liberties.

The ACLU said it was worried that the plan called for military and police involvement in enforcing a quarantine.

Revere notes that this is not completely far-fetched, and that most experts say quarantines won't work anyway.

CIDRAP also has last week's big story on new understanding on how flu binds to human tissue.

"This study was what was needed to put together what type of sialic acids the influenza viruses bind to and what was really available for binding within the respiratory tract," Nicholls told CIDRAP News via e-mail. "As a note of caution, the analysis of what glycans are present in the respiratory tract has been done on cells grown in culture . . . and the question arises to what extent these represent normal human adult and paediatric trachea and bronchi, so clearly we need to move from this in vitro model to the in vivo setting."

The Dominican Republic says bird flu is under control.

Note: according to this, it will take a few days for H5N1 to be confirmed.

Azerbaijan is soliciting proposals for bird flu education.

Fox News dude takes victory lap now that bird flu's "real" experts have said it was over-hyped.

CIDRAP's best practices looks at bird flu measures being employed along the Mexican border in Texas.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


A quick couple of constructive comments about your two ACLU articles today…

I would like to say upfront that I too am ambivalent, like Revere, when it comes to the ACLU. Mainly they are an anachronism. On a few topics, they serve as true watch dogs over some important individual freedoms and constitutional concepts, and on others – well, they just don’t “get it” in a practical sense. Some of their positions make perfect sense, and others, like pandemic planning and emergency operations, involving distinct differences between the “public welfare” versus “individual freedoms and rights”, just plain don’t make sense. All too often, in my view, they do not represent mainstream America’s concerns in their legal policy initiatives and positions, or the public good, and simply pander to minority points of view. For example, when it comes to the war on terror, they are extremely naïve. Another example, is that one of their key recommendations or findings when preparing for a pandemic is for the government to “provide for ways for sick people to stay at home without losing pay, instead of merely advising people to stockpile food”. Nice sounding words, but utterly ridiculous, impracticable and not feasible when it comes down to it: an influenza pandemic is not a run-of-the-mill entitlement program. It could easily result in a national emergency of some order of magnitude, endangering many, which may require the use of federal and state force to preserve social order and prevent economic chaos and unnecessary deaths.

I believe in this instance, the ACLU is concerned about the “government” taking overly aggressive and coercive actions against individuals who would be sick, rather than concentrating on appropriate public health and social measures – this supposedly results in people, rather than the pandemic disease, becoming the “enemy”. This in effect, would put the civil liberties of US residents at risk. They cite in their report the example of Andrew Speaker (the idiot who just happens to be an Atlanta lawyer who was diagnosed with MDR-TB), who was treated (supposedly) like a “dangerous public enemy” rather than a patient, and put on the “no fly list”, and essential categorized or labled him a suspect criminal and terrorist. The ACLU has concluded (wrongfully with this bad example) that this behavior would most likely be replicated and extended to others by the US government during a pandemic, resulting in gross violation of individuals civil rights. In addition, the ACLU report laments the fact that during a pandemic, most likely the courts would be closed and the judicial review of directed quarantines and forced treatment (likely antivirals, vaccines and medical procedures), would be unavailable.
Whether or not this is true, remains to be seen, but I don’t think that will deter the ACLU lawyers, who seem to thrive on the opportunity of seeing an alleged constitutional or civil rights problem, violation or crisis, where there isn’t or wouldn’t be one, most of the time. Common sense dictates that the federal government is not going to “lock people up”, or attempt to quarantine segments of the population, or forcefully inoculate them, or medicate them, against their will. The military does have an obligation to preserve the union, our Democracy way of life, protect our citizens against each other and against foreign and domestic enemies, whether we like it or not. Sometimes, this translates into marshal law, and the Posse Comitatus Act has been on the books since 1878, so I really don’t see this as an issue.
I guess when it comes to realistic pandemic planning, most us will be placing our faith and lives in hands of our fellow man, our military, in our government, in our churches and in the leaders of our country – the President, the CDC and HHS physicians and scientists.

Not for one moment would I place trust in the judgement of a bunch of Philadelphia lawyers during a severe influenza pandemic, and certainly not the ACLU. Most of us can watch out for ourselves – thank you.



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