Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February 25 Flu Update

A 4 year old girl in Egypt is H5N1

Human cases put three countries on alert.

CIDRAP on China, Pakistan and Vietnam outbreaks.

There's an additional outbreak in China.

ProMed with more from China.

Bird flu hits another area in Bangladesh.

Financial impact of bird flu on families in India.

California newspaper article on bird flu remaining a serious threat.

Pakistan article notes it will take "phenomenal" resources to combat bird flu.

Article highlights the role of nurses in pandemic prep in Illinois.

2 Comments:

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...

Orange;

The outbreaks of bird flu in the poultry of the different extreme regions of southwestern and northwestern China, definitely leads one to question how pervasive the spread of H5N1 really is along the neighboring Pakistan/India/Bangladesh/Burma/Laos/Thailand/Vietnam borders: if you look at a map of mainland China very carefully, the infected provinces in China should form a perfect parallel arc and be Xinjiang, Xizang (Tibet), Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi and Fujian. (absolutely no charge for the elementary geographic analysis, it’s just a guess on my part).

I don’t think we have heard the last of the financial and social woes from either India or Bangladesh, because of the two recent bird flu outbreaks. Over 1.5 million poor people in Bangladesh are now out of work and have no income, due to the loss of their poultry; and the Communist party of West Bengal will be re-supplying the destitute people there with replacement chickens, via easy term loans and grants. Some of the destitute and unemployed women will even get 10 free chickens. Many will even get supplements for poultry feed. Thus, in my view the vicious cycle of hundreds of millions of very poor people depending almost exclusively on poultry for food and as a primary source of income, continues. It is a societal and economic “house of cards” that will crash, every time there is a significant outbreak of H5N1 in that region of the world. And unless both Bangladesh and India governments initiate, purchase the massive amounts of drugs needed, and strictly enforce a national poultry vaccine program, neither country stands a chance of saving their fragile poultry industries in the long run. That’s even assuming no further increased immunity levels in the birds, or resistance increase by the virus – which isn’t likely, in my opinion.

Your Illinois article about nurses preparing for a possible influenza pandemic, really causes a person to think about the nursing shortage, and how scarce adequate medical care could really become, should a national health emergency be declared. Currently, according to HHS estimates, there is a shortfall of approx 111,000 registered nurses throughout the US, and this is expected to grow to 275,000 by 2010. There is also a much larger projected critical shortage of practical nurses. Hospitals are mainly unprepared, regardless of what they say, in fact they can barely support the current seasonal flu epidemic in some areas of the US.

This tells me a couple of things that people need to think carefully about: the impact of a significantly infectious and virulent influenza epidemic accompanied with high mortalities would overwhelm the hospitals within days, including all of the available nurses and physicians; many nurses and doctors would not even report to work; and many millions of family households would be forced to self-medicate. Secondary infections and complications would become a nightmare.

In fact, it is very doubtful in my mind that we would ever see large numbers of sick people massing in public areas (i.e. Katrina like) during an influenza pandemic – I would imagine quite the opposite – millions of people would be petrified and panic stricken and would isolate themselves away from others as much as possible, sick or not.

I can’t think of one single intelligent person who would allow them selves to be herded into a large stadium, or other staging area, during any severe viral epidemic of any kind. The “Katrina model” would be a death trap for many reasons.

Self-medication and neighbors assisting one another, would more likely be the path to follow if a person wanted to live through the worst.

Wulfgang

 
At 11:01 PM, Anonymous aces said...

In fact, it is very doubtful in my mind that we would ever see large numbers of sick people massing in public areas (i.e. Katrina like) during an influenza pandemic – I would imagine quite the opposite – millions of people would be petrified and panic stricken and would isolate themselves away from others as much as possible, sick or not.

You've got that right! I always shake my head when I read some flubloggers' nightmare scenarios: frenzied mobs storming hospitals, looting stores, marching on Congress demanding action, etc.

In the midst of a raging pandemic, the LAST thing you'd want to do is stand shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of potentially infectious strangers. Even breaking into a house would be a mortal risk--who knows whether there's an infected person inside?

Some people have seen too many bad sci-fi flicks...

 

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