Preparing for a Pandemic

cobb

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No, but we survived teh spanish flu. Just concerns me the strain in Thiland hits the health worse with some protein storm in the lungs when tested with healthy tissue. Seems it takes the weak and strong, but the average guy is ok. Read elsewhere it could be trasnmitted by infected eggs.
 

cy

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scary how conditions are ripe for a pandemic :green:

been catching blurbs about threat of fake anti-viral meds in china.

constant reports of localized outbreaks in Asia. so far only small numbers people dying....
 

PhotonWrangler

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I just got my flu shot today. I'll probably also go for a pneumonia shot. Even if there's limited access to antiviral meds, I can at least limit my chances of having the flu turn into pneumonia.
 

Hookd_On_Photons

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Sigman said:
I'm eating a lot of kimchee!!

Well, make sure you're eating authentic Korean kimchi.

http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/11/13/korea.china.kimchi.reut/

"Last month, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) banned the sale of kimchi imported from China because samples contained parasites' eggs that likely came from the use of human feces as fertilizer in Chinese agricultural production, it said."

What the heck? That's totally unbelieveable! Disgusting! Outrageous! Impossible! South Korea imports kimchi from China?!! Oh, and the fecal parasite thing was weird, too. :p

And to stay on topic, no we are not prepared. Fully preparing for a pandemic would be immensely expensive, with no immediately obvious benefit. So as usual, we will probably go through some token preparations, draft a bunch of reports, and wait for the crisis to hit before we actually do anything.

More stuff to chew on, from a United States public health perspective:

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/352/18/1839
 

NewBie

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The news keeps rolling in:

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia said on Monday a 20-year-old woman had died of bird flu while several countries reported new suspected human cases of the deadly virus.

...

"There has been a mutation allowing the virus to (replicate) effectively in mammal tissue and become highly virulent," the institute said on its Web site at www.pasteur-hcm.org.vn.
http://reuters.myway.com/article/20...Z_01_RID434598_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-BIRDFLU-DC.html


Well, guess we will see, one way or another.
Might be a good idea to break open the Y2K kit and freshen it up a bit.
 

Santelmo

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Uncertain? Yes I am. Fearful? A bit. Shaking my nerves and being hopefull that we can pass this--ALWAYS!
 

Hookd_On_Photons

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I'm concerned that media overhype might put people off guard. The boy who cried wolf, and all that.

Remember last year's "OMG!!! THERE'S NOT ENOUGH FLU VACCINE!!! GREEDY PHARMACEUTICAL CORPORATIONS AND THEIR CORRUPT POLITICAL LACKEYS WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR **MILLIONS** OF DEATHS!!!" :faint:

And then nothing extraordinary happened.

I think a few paranoid (prudent?) people are taking heed of the potential for a pandemic, but the public at large filters out the warnings as yet more unwarranted hype.

What little I've heard from politicians is exploitative. (The reason we don't have enough stockpiles of vaccine and antiviral medication is the threat of lawsuits from sue-happy liberals, so we need tort reform and homeland security subsidies for America's patriotic pharmaceutical producers! We would have plenty of resources to devote to the threat of a flu pandemic if the neocons hadn't lied to entangle America in an expensive quagmire in Iraq!) So don't look for any substantive help from Washington DC. :rolleyes:
 

gadget_lover

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It does not matter what disaster you are preparing for. If you do a good job this time it impacts the preperation for the next time.

1999 - Y2K scare. Billions of dollars spent on 2yK testing and correcting bad programs.
Jan 1, 2000 - Nothing major happened. People believe the scare was overblown.

However.... were it not for the hoopla, there would have been many systems that would have crashed or behaved incorrectly.


Back on subject....
We have a flu outbreak and everyone gets concerned. People wash their hands and get flu shots. The disaster is averted.

Next year everyone seems to ignore the fact that they are the reason the disaster was minimized. They decide it's just a fraud to sell flu shots. Within a few years there are enough people who are NOT protected to allow teh virus to spread well.

This week I've had 2 different food servers appologize for having a "cold" while they were delivering my food to the table. Are we ripe for a pandemic? YES!
 

AJ_Dual

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I'm taking this with a grain of salt, it's on my radar, but only at about the level Y2k was, or the New Madrid fault going off in a 7.5 on the Richter. Possible, but not very probable, yet. However we are overdue for a pandemic of some sort or another. It's been almost 100 years since the last bad one. With nearly six times the population and modern air travel, one wonders why it hasn't happened yet.

There is a chance a pandemic could be stopped by modern health services and epidemiology. It's possible that the strategy of applying the limited supply of anti-virals, and any vaccines to the appropriate "hot spots" could contain it. However, vaccines are a challenge. Even working at WARP SPEED, it takes months to isolate the right virus, then start production. It's hard to make a vaccine in advance.

I mainly worry because my wife and I have four little girls still in diapers, two sets of twins 11 months apart. (oops! :D ) If it gets truly bad here in the US, (significant deathcount, hospitals overflowing etc.) I'll have to think long and hard about moving out of the house to my parents so I can continue to work and travel in public, pay the bills, and leave groceries and baby formula etc. on the porch for my wife untill the worst passes. Unless I could be certain that babies two and under would be a triage priority to receive anti-virals, I see no other way.

Bird flu could amount to nothing more than an inconvenient livestock problem, or it could infect someone already suffering with a "human" influenza virus. Then, there's a chance the bird flu (deadly, but not very human-human transmissable) could trade DNA/RNA with the human flu (not very deadly, but very transmissable). Then we'd be in a world of hurt.

Speaking of pandemics, whatever happened to SARS?

Good question! That's why it's so hard for the average person to truly gauge the threat. Media attention to an issue is hardly an accurate barometer of danger. Even looking at things one would think ought to be accurate indicators of danger, like government response, dosen't tell the whole story. The government itself might just be making preparations out of fear it would look like they "aren't doing enough" under the scrutiny of the media. Then because the government is making all these preparations, the media takes note and the vicious cycle repeats itself.

OTOH, the media attention could help the situation, goading the appropriate people into action. We'll never know how bad Y2k would have been if it had not been hyped so heavily. I doubt it would have been even close to a major disaster, but it could have been a major inconvenience if all the calendar bugs hadn't been fixed.
 
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Hookd_On_Photons

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PhotonWrangler said:
Speaking of pandemics, whatever happened to SARS?

China had to implement extremely strict, draconian measures to isolate SARS outbreaks. Patients and health care workers were completely isolated from the general populace. People who demonstrated any obvious signs of illness were immediately quarantined, and were not released until they were tested and it was known with certainty that they did not have SARS. Singapore enacted similar measures.

I'm not sure you would be able to do that in the United States. People value their individual liberty too much. Sooner or later, the lawyers would get involved and there would be a flamewar of recrimination and disobedience of quarantines. Nurses, respiratory techs, and doctors might refuse to report to work. EMTs might refuse to go on runs to pick up people in respiratory distress. Leaders of political factions would scream oppression, because their constituents are the victims of health care discrimination. People would get into fights over every new pallet of surgical masks that arrives at Wal-Mart. You get the picture.

A bit of scariness: the last outbreak of SARS in China (April 2004) was linked to the National Institute of Virology in Beijing where experiments using SARS coronavirus were conducted.

http://www.phppo.cdc.gov/HAN/ArchiveSys/ViewMsgV.asp?AlertNum=00204

Otherwise, it looks like human-to-human transmission has been stomped out. There are undoubtedly animal reservoirs where the virus continues to exist, however.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/situation.htm

I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little. It not like the human race is going to be wiped out by avian flu. It's just frustrating to realize how little has been done to prepare, and how little political will there is to do what needs to be done. Most civilian health care systems have still failed to adequately prepare for "Homeland Security" events, in the wake of 9/11.

Heck, most community hospitals wouldn't be able to deal with relatively small-scale, mundane "mass casualty" events such as a schoolbus crash, a hazmat incident at a local manufacturing facility, etc.

We'll survive. The USA won't go "Mad Max". But it won't be pretty.
 

cy

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Seems to me SARS could have easily become a pandemic. Had it not been checked by different government's draconian measures.
 

BB

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Not to say it can't happen, but it isn't likely to happen exactly next year:

CHICKEN-LITTLE FLU

November 15, 2005 -- 'THE indication is that we will see a return of the 1918 flu virus," warned the nation's top health official. "The projections are that this virus will kill one million Americans . . . " But the topic wasn't an impending "bird flu"pandemic — it was 1976, and the prediction for the "swine flu" fell 9,999,999 deaths short.

That's something to remember as we endure the current hysteria. Another is that we've been here before with the same virus everybody is now squawking about: Avian influenza type H5N1 hit Hong Kong in 1997. Typical headline: "Race to Prevent World Epidemic of Lethal 'Bird Flu.' " (I published an anti-hysteria piece then, too — and got condemned as "irresponsible.")
...
H5N1 wasn't discovered in Hong Kong in 1997 — but rather in Scottish chickens in 1959. Millions of Chinese were apparently also infected in the early 1990s. Never say "never," but avian flu has been flying around the globe for at least 46 years and hasn't done its mutation trick yet.
...
Set aside the forthcoming H5N1 vaccines: There were no antivirals in 1918, no antibiotics, and no pneumonia vaccine — which provides lifetime protection against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria and is available right now.

Like Y2K and computer software updates, there has been a lot of work done in the last 87 years to improve health.

-Bill
 

AngelEyes

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Wasnt a flu epidemic or some thing similar foretold somewhere like the Bible or Bible Code or Da Vinci Code or something?
 

BB

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Actually, something to worry about more than the flu is probably Alzheimer's (memory loss and more, typically in older folks) and other strange diseases (like BSE/Mad Cow) related to our food supply in the US.

Alzheimer's Could More Than Triple; July 22, 2002

The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease could rise from 4.6 million today to 16 million by 2050, new research indicates.

The projections, presented Monday at an international Alzheimer's conference in Stockholm, are slightly higher than those conducted 10 years ago, mostly because more people are expected to live beyond the age of 85 than were predicted to a decade ago.

Seems to be worse in the US. Could be affected by diet, or even nasty things called Prions.

Prions: Do they exist or not?

Prions: Puzzling Infectious Proteins from NIH (US)

It seems that there can be some terrible long term issues with our food supply (particularly meat). Almost has me wanting to become a vegetarian.

-Bill
 
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