Skip to main content

View Diary: H5N1 And The Long War Against Flu (158 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  No better, but no worse. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sphealey, SciMathGuy

    My opinion, and it is only an opinion, is that we are not worse-off in the face of a pandemic than we were in 1918.

    1.  Despite the higher overall population density, inner cities are actually somewhat less crowded.  I don't think the suburban living offers any less protection from the Flu than rural.  The bottom line is that in 1918, every town in America was affected by the Flu (With 2-3 trivial exceptions).  Faster spread and higher overall population density couldn't possibly make it worse.
    1.  Whether or not there are fewer hospital beds open than in 1918, it is by a small amount relative to the people who will need them.  The hospitals in 1918 were completely overwhelmed and dead bodies were left unburried for days (see The Great Influenza by John Barry for details.
    1.  While the spread of influenza will be quicker than it was in 1918, the spread of communication about influenza will be faster still.  People will actually have more time to take effective action because we will see it coming.  The problem is that there is still very little effective action to be taken.

    We cannot be complacent.  If we are not any worse than we were in 1918, I don't think we are much better.

    Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

    by Actuary4Change on Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 08:49:26 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  here's what's worse (5+ / 0-)
      1. modern transportation
      1. population size
      1. lack of resilience (no victory gardens, no home grown or local food supply)
      1. no experience with this, whereas in 1918, flu was better recognized as a killer and dying at home was better accepted

      and the big ones:

      1. Just in Time delivery of food and supplies that dwarfs anything seen in 1918. Something like 80% of critical meds and med supplies like masks and gloves comes from overseas, for example.
      1. dependency on the electric grid

      here's what's better

      1. pre-pandemic tracking (never been done, but we are trying)
      1. potential for a game-changing vaccine

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 09:31:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Other improvements (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT, SciMathGuy
        1.  Basic Medical knowledge.  In 1918, viruses were not known to exist, and the importance of hygiene was not nearly as well understood.
        1.  Ability to recognize what is happening.  In 1918, it took months before the pandemic was recognized for what it was.
        1. Communication Speed.  Assuming (as is likely but not certain) that a pandemic starts in Asia, we would have a month of lead time before things started to get really bad in the U.S.
        1. Fewer people living in severely cramped conditions.  In 1918, the spread of the disease was facilitated by outbreaks in army barracks, and in inner city tennements.

        I agree that the modern just-in-time economy is the single scariest factor.  I heard Osterholm speak at a Society of Actuaries conference, and I was very impressed with the difficulties we will face.

        Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

        by Actuary4Change on Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 11:39:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have a feeling that glove supplies (0+ / 0-)

        etc., will be the least of the worries.  Lose the grid, and you're going to lose oxygen supplies pretty quick.  

        Six months of food and water?  If everything's down that long everywhere it's probably not coming back.

        •  it's an example (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nanobubble

          it's not the worst or the only example.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jul 13, 2008 at 02:34:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site