This scares the dickens out of me:
Indonesia called an outbreak of bird flu in its teeming capital an epidemic on Wednesday as health and agricultural experts from around the world converged on Jakarta to help control the virus.
Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari said the emergence of sporadic human cases of bird flu in recent months in and around different parts of Jakarta, home to 12 million people, warranted the epidemic tag.
She was speaking before announcing that an initial local test on a five-year-old girl who died on Wednesday after suffering from bird flu symptoms was negative for the virus.
“This can be described as an epidemic. These (cases) will happen again as long as we cannot determine the source,” Supari told reporters, but she insisted it would be wrong to label it a “frightening epidemic.”
Four Indonesians are already confirmed to have died since July from the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed a total of 64 people in four Asian countries since late 2003 and has been found in birds in Russia and Europe.
To the credit of the Kossacks, they have been one of the few blogs following this closely, and after watching the PBS show last night, my knickers are firmly in a twist.
One of the most frightening aspects of the show last night was a doctor noting that patients who get infected with bird flu but who do not die, from a public health standpoint, are more of a danger than the people who do die. Why? Because when people die, the virus dies. When people get infected, and do not die, they pass on the virus to untold others.
*** Update ***
Another Kossack post on the Bird Flu, including a link to the flu wiki.
I think (will attempt to verify) that this is true but mainly true during the bird-human transmission phase. The greatest danger here is the morph of the virus, in humans, into one that is human-human contagious. The longer the infected person lives, the longer the window of opportunity for that sort of virus change to occur.
However, once the human-human contagion thing is a fact, which it IS NOT yet, then the phenomenon you describe is not really a factor. At that point, without prompt and aggressive containment, you have the pandemic, and all hell breaks loose.
Am I being a dumbass for not taking this bird flu thing seriously? It just strikes as one of those things that comes along every year or so, whether it’s Y2K or SARS or the NWO, that’s going to destroy the earth…and then nothing happens.
Is the bird flu the real deal?
Yeah, I think it’s the real deal, but according to an article in Slate, that doesn’t mean we’re going to see it this year. If anything, I hope our government is buying stores of vaccines for it. I know one is in the works.
This is a big scare tactic. They talk about this kind of thing every year. Hannity had a big list of all the disease scares of the last ten years, from mad cow to mercury poisoning to this. I’m not worried.
There are two important questions here, and yours is neither of them.
One, will this H5N1 strain become the next deadly pandemic? We don’t know yet, it might. It might not.
Two, will there be a next deadly pandemic? Yes.
There are two important questions here, and yours is neither of them.
haha that’s a great line
Sure, right around when global warming causes the flooding of our cities, we run out of fossil fuel, we become debtor-slaves to China, and we all die of mercury poisoning. Did I leave any liberal paranoid fantasies out?
bird flu, huh? i’m thinking chicken soup won’t be much of a help.
You know, every time a hurricane comes along, people act like this is going to be the Big One, and then nothing happens except a few trees falling over. I bet Sean Hannity has a big list of all the hurricane warnings that didn’t pan out.
Well, there’s being struck by a massive meteorite, supervolcanic eruptions, nuclear winter, and a new Ice Age brought on by Global Warming.
Doug, I know you are trying to have a good time here with this spoofing shit, but this subject has the potential to be life or death for a lot of people. Spreading disinformation about it is not really a cool thing to be doing.
Just as we ‘knew’ what might or might not happen should a large hurricane hit NOLA, we ‘know’ what might happen if there is an influenza pandemic. Failing to prepare for something like this is beyond stupid and one wonders whether those dismissing the idea of preparedness out of hand are in their right minds.
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History By John M. Barry.
It’s about the 1918 Flu Pandemic, and it’s worth a read. It’s also a great look at the budding medical field, and how it came of age in the face of the pandemic.
This is one of those things that it’s going to happen again. The only questions are not If, but when and how prepared for it are we?
And unlike the more well-known flu strains, it was more lethal in strong, healthy adults than in children and the elderly.
I fear that these predictions were not based on “sound science.”
Don’t worry, Karl Rove will be put in charge of flu prevention.
Either way, it’d be nice if our country modestly prepared for it.
Of course you aren’t worried. You have “Jesus the Staff-Wielding Warrior” to protect you.
If he can defeat an entire Roman legion, certainly he can destroy the bird flu.
I’m taking Don Young’s bridge to the deserted Alaskan island to get away from it. That or trying to break into Dick Cheney’s bunker.
I hope we’re pumping money into some faith-based flu prevention programs.
All in all, the good news is that so much attention is being given to this flu strain now, before it gets to be really widespread. Especially on the part of the Asian governments, who, I suspect, tried to bury their epidemiological heads in the sand until quite recently.
Jakarta is one of the dirtiest big cities I’ve ever been to, if not the dirtiest. I can’t imagine a much worse place for any kind of epidemic to happen.
If it were the Arabian horse flu, I’d feel a lot safer.
Mike S, when you say dirty, what do you mean? No running water? Sewage in the streets? Or, just diry air? Never been to Jakarta, so I’m curious.
I don’t know about Jakarta, I’ve never been there. But I can say that there were certain areas of Beijing that weren’t exactly examples of clean living. Some of the really run-down hutong areas were little more than crumbled buildings held together with spit and gum. When you’ve seen a guy taking a dump out in front of his “house”, in plain day, for all the world to see, it tends to clarify the issue of what constitutes “clean”.
Anyway, my understanding is that although the major cities present their own sets of challenges and dangers, when it comes to the next flu pandemic, it’s the farming communities in asia that are the “test tubes” where such a virus will come from.
As to those who want to claim there’s no threat to bird flu, I can only laugh at you. ppGaz has it right on the money with these questions/statements:
It’s not a question of politics. It’s just the reality of the flu virus. Eventually, some flu virus somewhere is going to mutate into something that can be easily trasmitted and humans will have no resistance to it. Whether it kills millions or not is unknown. All we have to go on is our past experience with flu pandemics, and the results aren’t pretty.
so, when the outbreak occurs (in the usa), what is the protocol for dealing with it? is the CDC in charge or DHS or does the governor have to call for assistance?
i read through some of the wiki and all snarkiness aside, i don’t see the answer to that. does anyone know?
The protocol is for the federal government to ignore it for the first few days while the president stays on vacation. At some point, someone in the White House will make a DVD for the president to show him how bad things are. Then they’ll start blaming local officials.
The Flu Wiki is a place I’ve been reading, and it’s a terrific resource. I also watched the PBS show last night (thank, John, for the tip!).
Maybe I’m so jaded by the media’s constant hype of danger, danger, read all about it!, but I am not getting nervous about this flu, at least for us her in the States. Even though I am aware of its mutations, and with our air travel culture it can move quickly, I also take heart in what a doctor said in last night’s show. That is, the virus, being a parasite, wants its host to live, so I’m hoping it will mutate to something we can liken to our existing flu.
I know, I’m saying “I hope” this happens, and that it could be a lot worse, but I have faith that any bad damage will be confined to SE Asia.
All of the above, and then some. I recommend changing planes in Jakarta and staying out of the city. The airport is quite nice but when you leave the property things take a dramatic change for the worse.
Where I satyed for a couple of days had a pile of garbage at least 8 feet high in front of it, with a food vender on the street about 20 feet away. The difference between the rich and poor is breath taking. Check out the movie “The year of living dangerously” with Mel Gibson to see how poorly run the country has been. It’s set in Sukorno’s time, when Suharto was about to attain power, but Suharto was no better.
From the CDC website:
30,000 to 500,000 deaths? Is anyone really following up with this plan? Frankly, the sooner we bail out of Iraq (which will be the end game, anyway), the more dollars we will have for these types of needs.
According to the show, the 1918 flu had a mortality rate of 2%. So if you get a flu like that on the rampage, and get 100 million cases worldwide, with a 2% mortality rate you’d kill two million people.
100 million cases of flu is only a very tiny fraction of the world’s population.
But it isn’t just the deaths, it’s the disruption, the fear, and the panic. A flu like 1918 would have the capacity to bring the US to a standstill. Remember that one moron with a few tablespoons full of powder and some postage stamps had the country nearly beside itself 4 years ago this fall.
Does your place of employment have a plan to handle a 85% absenteeism rate? Do you have a plan to get groceries without going to the supermarket and mingling with all those other people?
This country is so ill prepared for anything, it’s pathetic.
I have bird flu and im growing feathers im developing a beak and wings i want to fly south iimmm SQUARK SQUARK
That would explain quite a lot actually. Birdbrain.
t. jasper parnell
The whole notion of disaster preparedness is odd. Take a firedrill in a grade school. At least when I went to school it was snafu. Kiddies marched more or less out of doors stood about and then returned. There was no attempt to actually prepare for anything. No designated areas, no attempt to account for all the teachers, kiddies, custodians etc who populated the school.
A real plan would have had some kind of rigid system in place where all the classes lined up in some kind of logical order in some area well away from the school; each teacher or other individual with supervisory responsibilities would have to have some kind of list for who was there that day and who was not and would have to check it against those who were there; they would turn their list over to someone who would check it and a stragglers list against a master list.
There would have to be contingencies for any individuals who were sick or otherwise not available and somekind of pre-training for any substitutes. For the system to function there would need to be integration between the school and the fire and police departments, that is they would need a specific individual who would recieve the list and a report of which areas had been swept for students and which had not, so that the rescue squads could at least begin to look for lost kiddies and whoever else was not accounted for in areas not yet checked.
In order to make sure that everything worked the whole thing, including emergency responses and what not, would have to occur several times each year.
Now imagine making the same kind of plan with the same kind of hierarchy for getting information from specific sectors of a city to the municipal, state, and federal governments and the wide array of first and second responders.
Imagine actually having to shut the city down periodically to ensure that the plan written worked, if not perfectly at least partially. Even for a small city, or better still a town or a village, this would be prohibitively expensive not just to plan but to practice: shutting down the city/village/whathaveyou down for the day as people moved from homes, places of work, play and so on to designated areas. Making sure that the necessary transportation was actually there to ferry those without cars and that the roadways were most efficiently ortanized to get folks out of the city; that someone stuck around to make sure that looters and others did not take advantage of the test to, well, loot and do other nasty things.
Even if the whole thing was put on a voluntary basis, say business and neighborhoods created their own plans/lists/meeting places and the downward flow of vehicals etc by an emergency preparedness office integrated these voluntary plans , the logistics of the whole mess boggles the mind.
Granted having something might be better than nothing, but on the whole absent an agreement to spend billions each year on preparing for the disaster most likely to strike your part of the world all this blather about preparedness is a lot of hooey.
And jeez, the outbreak of a real pandemic? The numbers of the dead and those who might die make planning for the whole thing midnboggling. There is no quarentee that the dead are going to be the unessential personel or that in a real emergency the essential personel are going to do what they should instead of protecting themselves and their loved ones and so on.
Let’s tie everything to the war. Some of us realise that research is incremental and more resources will not always speed things up or make things better. There is an principle of-I believe it is called- Diminishing Marginal Utility where adding more and more to something will yield decreasing marginal return. And resources are not just limited to money, by the way. There are many different life
processes that need to be studied and many biologists, bioengineers, and medical professionals have valuable knowledge in many other fields. There could very well be a surplus of funds in a field, but shortage of personnel and other resources to use them on. So, yes, in a world where we have infinite resources (other than money, of course), you might be right, but in the real world, you might want to rethink your argument.
I think to myself: we have advanced so much in genetics and
programming, why don’t we tie them together? Once we learn how to destroy one virus (or force it to replicate itself to become harmless of even destroy itself), the same sort of process could be applied to others.
You just described Philly when Wilson Goode was mayor.
An interestng and informed discussion on the bird flu:
I would also like to add that often it takes a discovery in a different field to facilitate progress in a particular venture.
I would love to see some fat taken from the defense budget to help prepare us for flu issues.
That said, I would note that 2% fatality means what? The old, infirm, and weak who are unlucky enough to catch the flu risk dying? That means dying sooner than they would otherwise (we all die). What percentage of those are in their last year or so of life to begin with?
I suspect the 1918 flu figures are to a large extent numbers picked out of a hat. If the 2% deaths had not come from flu, how many would have died from starvation, cancer, heart disease, infections, disruptions arising from WWI? 500,000 flu deaths in the US over two winters (1918-19) compares to how many with “normal” flu?
Not my field, and I am just trying to get a sense of what scope of disaster we have on the horizon if we are not successful in containing the virus.
I hear what you say, ppGaz, but I think we can run around like chickens with our heads cut off (no pun intended) imagining every scary world scenario that can be dreamed up. Not only would the U.S. come to a standstill, the entire globe would. It would be devastating.
The problem with this flu virus seems to be that whether or not we can get it while it’s contained, and before it escapes that area (via travelers, shipments, etc.) to the greater population. It’s anyone’s guess if that will happen. We can only do what we can do, and the doctor interviewed by Moyers at the show’s conclusion left me comfortable that this is happening. At least he doesn’t appear to be a Bush-Allbaugh crony type, he seems to be a very sincere specialist, guiding the manufacture of enough vaccine to cover a significant-sized group. But they can only produce so much, and doing so as the virus mutates into new forms that possibly the vaccine won’t treat.
It’s scary, yes, and we should be educating everyone on the issue. But, to quote that same doctor, nature is the greatest terrorist. Sometimes all the planning in the world won’t do a damn thing, and it’s arrogant of us to even think we can conquer her.
Proof that evolution works and is a good thing?
No kidding. Not that your staggering lack of compassion even calls for a response, but the 1918 flu disproportionately killed people in the prime of their lives.
I swear to Dog, you can’t invent the nonsense you see in here.
Have you looked at the 1918 pandemic? Mortality huge among the young. Huge. Among young, previously healthy people.
Why do we have the share the country with stupid people?
Dead wrong sir. Running around as you describe is what you get when have the problem and didn’t have the planning and preparation. Which is the whole reason for planning, and preparation …. to minimize risk, minimize injury and death, maximize remediation, etc.
Planning and preparation are what we are paying the potatoheads in government to do. They should get to it, right now.
You’re right. Better not to prepare and just put our faith in Lord above.
The 2% death rate was those documented as having the flu and dying. A disproportionate number were (as mentioned before) atypically from the ‘young adult’ population (ages 15-34) – the elderly and the very young had lower death rates. One thing that some historians have said is that a large portion of the death rate was actually from complications – dehydration, starvation, pneumonia, and so forth – rather than the actual flu itself. Doesn’t make it any easier. But all that’s secondary. By concentrating on the 2% (though it’s closer to 2.5%), you’re missing a more significant number.
The scarier number is 28%. That’s the portion of the US population that was infected by the flu. An infection rate of 10% shuts down communities – schools close, businesses suffer both from lack of employees and lack of customers, emergency services aren’t as effective, the list goes on. And that’s with most folk “pushing through” their flu. If it’s got that 2.5% fatality rate, do you think employers are going to WANT their workers in the job?
Consider me to have added a rant about health insurance and how people have to work because they can’t afford to take days off sick balanced against the previous points as a relevant factor. The issue is a political “leftie” button and I don’t really want the digression, but here’s a place where it’s relevant.
ppGaz, finally you make sense.
1918 pandemic was rare because it killed the young and healthy and not the old.
This disease has not spread people to people yet, so the main risk is to those raising chickens.
No amount of preparedness is going to get you ready for a truly massive outbreak – 85% absenteeism? Sounds like Labor Day Week-end is a good drill. but let’s cut the military budget anyways…hmmmm, do we really need all these NBC suits? j/k
Maybe we should also cut Social Security fat to prepare for the massive Caldera eruption that will hit Jellystone Park, too.
Flu that singles out the young and healthy? I am skepical. But, I am prepared to learn more and have ordered The Great Influenza from the local library, to find out more.
I submit that it is not entirely indelicate to ask if billions of medical care dollars are to be spent on those in the last year of life – as it turns out, we spend vast sums that way (other countries focus more on this issue than we do). I concede it is ghoulish, but if it were me personally I would not want heroic efforts (or distortion of the health budget) if I were 365 days from an ordinary death. Better to focus on those with lots of years of life left.
Abenteeism is an interesting issue. Seems like FEMA or DHS might want to have contingency plans that support “home sourcing” or home based businesses. Send all us sick chair warmers home for a week or two of telecommuting, while we become unable to pass on the virus.
I read these stories 50 years ago. My grandmother pointed me to them; she was a schoolteacher at the time of the outbreak in 1918, and watched many die. Mostly young persons, including her own younger sister.