Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10th Flu Update

We ran a recent story about concern over disease outbreak in North Korea. Not surprisingly, North Korea has denied it.

There's a meeting of nations going on (SAARC) and they are urging Bangladesh to fight flu harder and communicate more.

More from the meeting....India offers to share its expertise with the region.

CIDRAP on the Hong Kong outbreak.

"If another case of avian influenza is found in other retail market in Hong Kong, the government will call all chickens in the retail level," Chow said.

Hospitals in Vermont held a pandemic exercise.

Representative from Macau meets with WHO official, discussed pandemic.

According to this, airplane cabins have strong air quality systems and are safer than most crowded public places.


At 6:37 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Just an casual observation about your first article concerning a suspected epidemic in North Korea affecting young children: there usually is truth in rumors. The disease actually could be either avian influenza or HFMD, since H5N1 has been widespread in South Korea over the last few months, and mainland China has suffered a very severe case of HFMD in many of it provinces, resulting in many hundreds of infant deaths there.
The bottom line for North Korea though is – if they won’t even fess up to a known hidden nuclear weapons building program and facility, or massive starvation of its citizens, why would report a rampant mysterious epidemic ? (the answer is: only if the epidemic was massive enough that they could no longer hide it).

As your news articles about the SAARC nations meeting point out, it is obviously in these Asian countries best interests to share bird flu outbreaks data, surveillance and veterinary information, because they all do in fact share the same economic and social challenges, infection problems, and disease risks. These cannot approach any solution to the problem in a vacuum. By uniting their efforts into a regional strategy, there is a chance they can control the viral threat and spread, however, if they just play the “finger pointing blame-game” (as both Bangladesh and India have done on occasion), then the virus will win.

And finally I would like to tell first hand about my own experience concerning airplane travel and the increased risk of transmission of a disease: the issue is not about the quality and quantity of air being re-circulated throughout an aircraft that might cause infectious diseases like influenza to spread, it is LITERALLY who you are sitting next to. On three separate occasions over the last 20 years, I have had the misfortunate to sit next to sick individuals (sneezing, coughing, hacking, obviously running fevers). In all three instances, I came down with the same illness within a few days, and in fact, on two of those times, the passengers next to me admitted that they had the flu, but “had to get home”. Their regard for other passengers like myself was below zero on the consideration-for-others-scale.

As far as ill passengers giving sufficient thought before hand about their “fitness and consideration” to other passengers ? Forget it, most people are inconsiderate jerks when it comes to transmitting illnesses on airlines and in the work place (remember the XRTB lawyer last year – ring a bell anyone ?)

The best advice for everyone who has to travel by air in a confined cabin: avoid flying if at all possible. The seats are sized for midgets, people run to the toilet constantly, they inconsiderately talk on cell phones, and the people won’t check their elephant sized carry-on bags like they should. Getting an infectious disease like influenza just adds to the overall flying pleasure.



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