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Bird Flu : Stopping a Pandemic


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Bird Flu : Stopping a Pandemic
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drewprops
Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2005-10-18, 20:09

Epidemiologists are making lots of scary noises about this thing catching fire and spreading. It's not as horrific as Ebola (see Moogs' article "Oh man... NOT good..." for that discussion), but it might be biblical in its repercussions.

What are our respective governments doing to prepare for shielding our population centers from the bird flu? We know that air travel is a prime means of transporting the disease rapidly between continents and I don't think that it's realistic to imagine that it can be effectively contained... too many variables to control.

This thing could keep kicking away, never ticking over into human-to-human transmission but I'll dare being called Chicken Little for wondering what we can conceivably do without causing panic.

I think the basic plan is to ignore it until we can't.
Like we've all always done with New Orleans' levy system.

charmita.

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: NSA Archives
 
2005-10-18, 20:45

It is pretty scary and apparently Congress has been looking at what to do for the last few weeks, but unless they put emergency measures into place for extra vaccine production and trauma center education, etc it won't make any difference. I think we should be OK but if it starts popping up around the major population centers with Int'l Airports (NY, Chicago, LA, Miami) I might start worrying. At that point I'm stocking up on water and dry goods and setting up an appt for a shot, then hope for the best.

I suspect if it did get out of hand the very best thing to do is stay in your own damn house as much as you can and keep a mask on when you're out / wash your hands every time you touch a public doorknob, etc.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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Windswept
On Pacific time
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Moderator's Pub
 
2005-10-18, 20:55

Yeah, I think the US has 2 million vaccines on order for our *entire* population.

*sigh*

I guess our Republican Congress truly lives by the concept of "the survival of the fittest".
And, you know, Republicans *are* the fittest - right?

Pardon me for being snide.
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Wraven
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Texas
 
2005-10-18, 21:04

<SNIP>Not worth it. </SNIP>
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Moogs
Hates the Infotainment
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: NSA Archives
 
2005-10-18, 22:09

Treading in dangerous territory for a Moderator, Carol.
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Wraven
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Texas
 
2005-10-18, 22:12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
Treading in dangerous territory for a Moderator, Carol.
Thank you. Much more pleasant than my original response.
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WBG4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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2005-10-18, 22:47

I have masks with me in cali. Like 5. You can get the antiviral from canada but it costs a ton and a half
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Akumulator
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2005-10-19, 00:12

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Dave
Ninja Editor
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Bay Area, CA
 
2005-10-19, 05:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windswept
Yeah, I think the US has 2 million vaccines on order for our *entire* population.

*sigh*

I guess our Republican Congress truly lives by the concept of "the survival of the fittest".
And, you know, Republicans *are* the fittest - right?

Pardon me for being snide.
See, the thing is we can't just call Vaccine's R Us and order the stuff. Apparently, it takes quite a while to make enough. By the time you've recognized the threat, it's too late to do anything about it. So there's no point in preparing for it, because there's nothing you can do to stop it.

Or at least that's my understanding of the situation.



I might've heard that on the Daily Show (just about the only news commentary show worth watching these days).

When I was a kid, people who did wrong were punished, restricted, and forbidden. Now, when someone does wrong, all of the rest of us are punished, restricted, and forbidden... and the one who did the wrong is counselled and "understood" and fed ice cream.
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curiousuburb
Antimatter Man
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: that interweb thing
 
2005-10-19, 06:52

Part of the trick in catching these things earlier has to be honest reporting from regional authorities.

China has been accused of willfully withholding data about the outbreaks of Bird Flu, as they did with SARS. WHO inspectors have suggested that in both cases, there was plenty of data in the early stages of both outbreaks that Chinese officials refused to share, perhaps out of fear that the real data would have led to calls for earlier quarantine (which would have embarrassed China, but might have legitimately helped halt the spread). There are also those who suggest that the CCP are hardwired to deny any 'bad news' in much the same way they've denied that a communist state can have issues with AIDS or drug addiction (which for years they insisted were 'Western corrupt behaviour diseases'). The net result of these denials has meant a mushrooming of cases and a much greater challenge in containing the spread of these problems. Not so clever.

As long as first responders lie about their results, accurate diagnosis and treatment further along the chain will be hindered. Politics shouldn't interfere in science, particularly in the realm of potentially deadly infectious diseases.

Part of the delay in producing vaccines was purportedly that the labs didn't know if they should be making H5N1 or H5N2 or whatever... because the regional health authorities in China wouldn't reveal what they were seeing... only after other countries were reporting cases was it confirmed which variant seemed to be spreading. While these viruses do mutate, getting a bit more lead time for the labs can mean millions more doses of the likely vaccines can be in the pipe. In the case of SARS, it might have meant better briefings for Immigration workers on what to look for. In the case of Bird Flu, it might have meant earlier controls on imports and/or earlier warnings to producers, as well as better tracking of migrating species that might be candidate carriers.

As for what they can do once the spread is confirmed... with Bird Flu, it means mass cullings... in BC a couple of years ago, a few cases meant that every producer of fowl in the surrounding zone (from free range chickens and turkeys to factory farming operations for same, through pigeon racing clubs, through ostrich farms and peacocks at petting zoos, to wild ducks and geese in 'nature preserves')... every bird in the zone was gassed. Millions of fjord-pining, passed-on avians within a week.

Producers got very little compensation for their lost stock... many were hammered financially, and the market for chicken and fowl went bad.

Add Bird Flu to Hoof and Mouth and BSE and it might be wise to invest in Soy or Vegetarian food producers.

As for humans, prevention helps (avoiding contact with potentially infected fowl may mean no more trips to feed the ducks, or no more pigeon keeping), but as bird flu doesn't seem to be transmitted through cooked flesh, it doesn't necessarily mean dietary change. This doesn't stop misinformed panic from playing havoc with market demand.

Like the 1918 pandemic and SARS however, the spooky part of Bird flu for regular folk is that it isn't just life-threatening to the very young and the old and sick... joe healthy adult can die from this just as easily as granny infirm.

You're still more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than from this flu, so play your odds and take your chances intelligently, but it is getting so much media hype that it seems difficult to absorb the real risk until more accurate information is available.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2005-10-19 at 07:13.
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Sauvblanc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mel-Bun!
 
2005-10-19, 11:47

Here's a good example of the dangers of politicians withholding information on potentially deadly infections. SARS spread to Toronto which resulted in a WHO travel advisory on the place. Given that tourism makes up a big part of Toronto's income, this was bad. Shortly afterwards, the politicians said that the threat had abated, all was OK-and ignored the people on the front lines-the doctors and nurses-who said that there were still people reporting symptoms of SARS. The result? A second flare up which resulted in more deaths.

That said, however, talking about preventing future animal-to-human "jumps" by sequestering the two a bit better especially in places like rural Asia is a bit much. My sister-in-law, who spent time in Taiwan and China, made a good point when she said that if you look at the abject poverty that these people live in and the animals are often amongst their few material possessions, it seems a bit much to suggest that the chickens and ducks should get the luxuries while the people continue to wallow in poverty.

As for my take on H5N1...well, you know, I'm glad that someone is yelling about it and making us aware of the *possible* scenarios and consequences. They may never come into play-and I hope they don't-but at least people are aware of it.
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drewprops
Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2005-11-11, 00:02

Ted Koppel is doing a straight-up conversation about preparing your home and business for the possibility of the bird-flu going human-to-human. So far everyone's been dancing around getting down into the muddy details, only agreeing with Koppel about the fact that families who stock up on 3-4 weeks of food as being "advantaged". Understandably, these guys need to discuss things in a way to discourage panicking the public.

The health guys are saying that many of the products like facemasks and syringes are not made here stateside, so that if there were a 12-18 month pandemic (!!) we wouldn't have enough to last.

12 to 18 months is a time period that is unlike a typical hurricane cleanup. There's no way for the majority of people to stockpile enough food or, frankly, afford to miss work. So, if people miss work, lots of people miss work, it's anarchy on an unprecedented scale. Stocking up on food for a 4 week passover puts you back out on the street while the virus continues to spread in waves, sometimes crossing back through areas thought to be "clear".

So when do the utilities stop running due to low employee turnout? Transportation? Communication? One of the guys spoke toward the vulnerability of our Just In Time (drop-ship) world in regard to the availability of the aforementioned supplies.

Can Ted Koppel's call for a preparedness campaign be useful when facing such a potential crisis? Maybe? Know the warning signs? Possibility of curfews in cities surrounding target cities? Somebody in federal, state and local governments had better damned well be doing some wargaming if the health jockeys are correct in their assessment of this situation.

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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in8
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Toronto
 
2005-11-11, 00:15

I have a close family member on the disease prevention control board for the city of Toronto so i get a nice inside scoop on SARS and bird flu every now and then Anyways, they(the board) have been watching the bird flu for several years now trying to predict when the outbreak would happen but that aside one of thier latest issues was trying to decide that in the event of a pandemic who in the Toronto area would get the vaccine and who wouldn't (i.e. nurses, police, politicians, etc.) that was really scary to hear and think about.

Even with this information and understanding how much of a threat this is, I do think the media is overhyping the whole bird flu but the hype is causing preventatory meaures that are needed and hopefully will dramatically decrease any risks.

Another little tidbit of info that was passed my way from that family member was that several other cities in the US had outbreaks of SARS much worse then Toronto but they saw how it damaged the city and its reputation so they kept it locked down from the media tighter than fort knox. lol
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Sauvblanc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mel-Bun!
 
2005-11-11, 08:41

in8, wow, that's really interesting that there were other outbreaks. Logically it makes sense, epidemiologically I always found it hard to believe that SARS was limited to just one city in North America but I'm just surprised that it was kept under wraps so well. I find it hypocritical given that people are yelling at China for not being open enough about their information on the avian flu when they keep stuff like that under wraps.

Hey, does anyone remember what happened to flu numbers in the US last year? I know they had to ration things because most of the flu stockpile last year was contaminated and had to be destroyed and they couldn't get enough to replace the stocks. I only ask because it was such a big issue at the time and they had to ration who got it (health care providers, the elderly etc) while the remaining people had to hope for the best.

It might give an indication as to what might happen if the avian flu suddenly acquires human-to-human transmission capabilities.
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Moogs
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Join Date: May 2004
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2005-11-11, 09:27

I think it's a little too early for the news media types to be talking about stockpiling food. That borders on irresponsible. The dialog needs to be there, in the public eye, but what needs to be discussed are ways to prevent the pandemic, not what to do once it happens. That's what panics people.

Assuming the Flu did start to spread, it all depends on the speed of the virus, once it goes human-to-human (IF it does that at all). If it's a fast spreading virus with rapid onset of symptoms, we're pretty much screwed unless we shut down all the airports, trains and other regional transportation systems (including interstate highways), and then quarantine everyone in their homes until most of the ill people themselves are rounded up like so many cattle, and either put in IC to die or cured.

The National Guard would have to bring us food, rather than us going to find it in stores, etc. It would have to be rationed, electricity and water rationed, etc. In short it would require the ultimate in cooperation from Joe Citizen all the way up to the Mayors, Governors and Washington. One broken link and it all falls apart.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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drewprops
Bastard
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Atlanta
 
2005-11-11, 10:47

Exactly, one broken link.

As much (justifiable) bitching has happened about what happened in New Orleans it's obvious that cooperation between organizations will not happen easily in the event that an epidemic hits the country - not efficiently anyway. Different communication systems, different terminology, different cultures... it's a big country. All it takes is one asshole or one misinformed/clueless/attitudinally-agitated person and data falls in the gaps, time is lost, populations are endangered.

Even in politically and culturally cohesive nations like Japan, Norway, Iceland, etc, there are myriad jurisdictional issues to broach. In geographically larger, more culturally diverse populations like the U.S., France, England these issues would appear (to me) to be insurmountable unless administered by a monolithic entity like the military. Poor nations? Genuine Plague.

Steve Jobs ate my cat's watermelon.
Captain Drew on Twitter
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Chinney
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Ottawa, ON
 
2005-11-11, 23:58

There is really no justification for panic. As some have pointed out, this thing may never acquire the mutations necessary to make it easily transmissible to humans. Yes, it is possible that it could be 1 month from now that this could happen, but it also could be 10 years, or 100 years, or never. Don't pace the floor of your room waiting. I also read somewhere that accompanying possible mutations that could make this virus more transmissible to humans might be other mutations that make it less lethal. We really don't know the "when" or the "what".

Of course, the odds say that some year, maybe sooner than later, a flu virus - very likely some other flu virus, since you can't just bet on this one - is going to cause a global epidemic. The last one we had was 1968, and loads of people died. And of course, the one in 1918-19 was much worse again. The good news is that we have a much greater understanding now than we did then of the nature of these viruses, how to track them, how to control the spread through very basic preventative methods, how to make vaccines, and we even have the beginnings of some effective anti-viral drugs, albeit still quite imperfect. When the next killer virus hits, we will be hit very hard - many will die - but our societies will manage.

When there's an eel in the lake that's as long as a snake that's a moray.
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naren
snail herder
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
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2005-11-12, 03:04

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chinney
... and we even have the beginnings of some effective anti-viral drugs, albeit still quite imperfect. When the next killer virus hits, we will be hit very hard - many will die - but our societies will manage.
Anti-viral drugs? They are total crap, anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something. I don't know any cell biologists who take them seriously.
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2005-11-12, 03:15

Well silly, viruses aren't cells, duh...



in8, forgive me if I would ask for a lot more supporting evidence before believing that a number of cities in the US had worse outbreaks than Toronto and were somehow able to *completely* suppress it in *every* case. That just defies belief, in my opinion.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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in8
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Toronto
 
2005-11-13, 01:11

hey Dr. Kickaha,

yeah i understand where you're coming from... i'll try and get some more info out of my source...if i find out anything else i'll post it here....i don't want to name names either so that no one loses their job hell i probably wouldn't believe me either if i read it...
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