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Update [2006-5-25 23:8:28 by DemFromCT]:: Flu Basics post is here, for those unfamiliar with the terms and issues. Flu Basics II deals with the politics of CDC and WHO.

Yesterday, I posted on the new WHO assessment of the Indonesian H5N1 flu cluster, which has compelling evidence of multigenerational H2H (human-to-human) spread. That news was followed, with some relief, by further spokespeople finding little evidence of mutations that might lead to major changes in the virus's ability to spread beyond the cluster (although the sequences are not public record and continue to be withheld without good reason) and no one thinks the story is over. WHO's statements are highlighted here:

Until now there have been only a couple of isolated incidents where one person is believed to have infected another. One of those was a woman from Bangkok, who returned to her village to nurse her child who was sick with avian flu. Although the mother had not had any contact with chickens, both died.

Samples of the virus in the bloodstream of the Sumatran victims have not so far shown any mutation of the H5N1 virus which would have to happen for it to become easily transmissible between humans. But the scale of this cluster, and the possibility of further cases, has raised serious concerns. "We are alarmed by this cluster," said Maria Cheng of the WHO. "It is the largest cluster we have had that has been identified for possible human to human transmission. The hypothesis is that these people were at very close quarters and were taking care of each other and falling ill."

It is only in the last few days, btw, that WHO is acknowledging that other cases of H2H have occurred:
It is the fourth - and largest - family cluster of bird flu cases likely transmitted from human to human since the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based WHO.
So, in the midst of other reassuring findings, such as no subsequent illnesses in health care workers, and no evidence of new cases beyond the cluster, it is now established that H2H cases of H5N1 exist. The cluster in Indonesia is remarkable because it represents at least 3 and perhaps 4 generations of spread (H2H2H2H), and other, smaller clusters in Indonesia likely represent similar H2H findings, albeit fewer generations.

This likely won't change the stage of pandemic alert from 3 to 4; casual contact has not been demonstrated, major mutations have not been documented and changing the pandemic alert level has economic implications for U.N. member countries (border closings and restrictions, e.g.). The cluster has sparked WHO containment efforts, however, even without raising the pandemic level.

The World Health Organization might soon convene an expert panel to decide whether an unprecedented human outbreak of bird flu in Indonesia requires the world to go on higher alert for a possible pandemic, health officials said Wednesday.

If the global alert status were increased, international stockpiles of antiviral drugs would probably be shipped to Indonesia and travel from the country would be monitored in an attempt to contain the outbreak.


As noted, those stockpiles are already on the way. And the risks from H5N1 are not over. As this WaPo story notes:
Most of the H5N1 samples [Robert Webster's] lab analyzes are provided by Asian scientists. Occasionally, they are given secretly if they come from a place where the virus has not been publicly reported.
So what else don't we know?

Now, in the postings yesterday, we had some interesting reactions from readers and posters amidst the terrific discussion about the science, the facts and the politics. More on the flip.

One such reaction appeared to be absolute indignation that anyone could 'waste time' on stories about H5N1. In response to that, I received an email from a Daily Kos poster that I thought was worth sharing, and will do so with permission. Dick Brass, an occasional Daily Kos contributor, is a technology pioneer who served as vice president of both Oracle and Microsoft.  His wife, Regina Dwyer, is an internist with an early background in infectious disease.
Nine Reasons Why the Flu Doubters Have It Wrong

We've often wondered why so many people (including friends) who are otherwise perceptive and progressive have such a hard time getting their arms around the genuine threat posed by avian flu and revert instead to denial and charges that the issue is "fear mongering at its worst."

We think there are nine main reasons:

1)       The range of possibilities is stupefying - anything from no pandemic at all ever to the worst plague in the history of the human race.  This is more paralyzing to folks than a simple statement that a billion will die.  Faced with this surreal range of possibility, people prefer to dwell on something seemingly more concrete, like the chance Karl Rove will be indicted or the possibility of an asteroid hitting us from outer space.

2)       It has been our common experience during the past 40 years that these various apocalyptic threats have never panned out: swine flu, SARS, monkey pox, Y2K, a second major US terrorist strike, every Homeland Security Dept. orange alert, nuclear war with the Soviet Union - every one of these has been a dud as Armageddon.

3)       This administration has used Goebbels-style misinformation more aggressively, consistently, continuously and shamefully than any in our history.  You really have to look at foreign fascist regimes to see dishonesty practiced with such perversion. Otherwise incompetent, perfect only at lying, Bush and his minions have now convinced most of the country they are not to be trusted on anything, avian flu included.

4)       The most quoted advice coming from US Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Levitt has been bizarre and off-putting.  Levitt deserves credit for touring the country to spotlight the threat.  But telling people to put canned milk and tuna "under your bed" sounds like crap.  "How can that help if I have to stay at home for months?" folks rightly wonder.  It sounds totally facetious, even if he was just being metaphorical.  Moreover, the advice being offered on official flu sites is often next to useless for many families.  Stock up on three months of your medication in case supplies are cut?  Tough if you take expensive drugs.  Impossible if you're one of 44 million Americans with no health insurance at all.

5)       If this is the worst disease threat in decades, our administration doesn't seem overly concerned.  There has been no special presidential address or high profile presidential conference. The few billions proposed to stave off the potential end of the world as we know it are a tiny fraction of the Iraqi spend.  And Levitt's oddly honest über-message doesn't ring alarm bells either.  He's basically saying:  "We know we've been sharply criticized for our handling of Katrina and not helping as promised.  So this time, we're telling you up front: we're not helping.  You're on your own."  Huh?

6)       A handful of scientists and doctors have publicly poo-pooed the possibility of pandemic.  One or two are actual experts in virology.  Most are bogus boobs with expertise in unrelated medical fields.  One fellow, for example, has been particularly damaging by writing that the H5N1 pandemic chances are super tiny (wrong), that there are vast numbers of hidden asymptomatic cases of H5N1 (wrong wrong) and that we are protected by some kind of "species barrier" (wrong wrong wrong).  That he has done so to shill for his totally irresponsible book arguing (essentially) for non-action is nothing short of disgusting. In truth, the actual number of these professional bird flu debunkers relative to real experts in the field is about the same as the number of real experts who doubt global warming or evolution.  But laymen don't understand this.  The see a few docs calling bullshit and conclude: "Oh, OK then.  Skip the tuna.  We can relax."

7)       The fact that Rumsfeld was chairman and a major shareholder of osteltamivir patent-holder Gilead is in itself proof positive of conspiracy for the many conspiracists on our side of the fence.  And it does look pretty damning at first glance:  the man who helped secretly plot a way to get us into a war with hype and fear is now using hype and fear so his firm can sell vast amounts of unneeded flu drugs. Sure sounds convincing unless you know that our administration has been singularly late and unhurried in its response to H5N1, and that they have shamefully failed to purchase adequate stocks of antivirals, especially Gilead/Roche's Tamiflu.  But the conspiracy theorists don't understand that part.

8)        Flu diaries attract an odd lot of characters.  Some real experts come to comment, but there are a lot more flat-earthers, end-daysers, apocalyptarians, vaccine haters and even outright anti-science types.   If you visit one these sites, you may to be impressed by the main articles, but scared off by the comment trail in some cases.  Small wonder Jon Stewart has a regular bird flu: threat-or-menace parody.

9)         Finally, the science here is very confusing for non-experts.  It's in birds now, but only in 214 people.  More people are hit by lightning each year.  There are complex genetic changes occurring in the virus that even experts don't fully understand.  These changes may allow the bug to infect us all, and pretty easily too.   Or maybe not.  We're talking about a future mutation - or maybe a "reassortment" or a "recombination."  This is meaningless to most of us.  The normal chaos of reporting breaking news doesn't help either.  Outbreaks and clusters come and go.  The threat seems to wax and wane.  Last week, stories said things were better because new cases are down in China, Thailand and Vietnam.  This week, WHO has been considering raising the alert level because of the worrisome Indonesian cluster.  Even after Oprah's public-spirited effort at bird flu education and especially after the ABC-deathathon flu-scare movie, it's hard to explain to people what's occurring and why it's real and concrete.  It just sounds like, well, science fiction.

So when the CDC warns that this could (could, not will) be the perfect biological storm, folks reasonably react with disbelief.  Been there, done that, you won't fool me again with naturally occurring viral WMDs. And in that context, it's easy for people to defend their denial and inaction.  And, in that context, it's not unreasonable for them to do so.

The problem is that as a result we are prepared about as well for bird flu as we were for Katrina.  To push the metaphor: The medical levees are in dangerous disrepair.  The disaster and evacuation plans are incomplete and incoherent.  And the public - even otherwise honest, ethical and progressive people - are ill-equipped and unaware that a Category 5 organism really is bearing down on them.

Dick Brass
Regina Dwyer, MD
 

The letter is worth reading and rereading in full. I loved, for example, the Rumsfeld reference #7, which is as much a part of bird flu lore now as the high case fatality rate currently seen (and look at those numbers from 2006). You can't have a flu diary without someone posting about Rummy.

But the point of it all is that there are always reasons why this isn't what it is - except that it is. H5N1 and the Indonesian cluster was the lead story in each of the network news broadcasts tonight, and with good reason. It's a major story, worth telling (even if they didn't tell you that there's unreported H5N1 somewhere we don't know).

Now, here's another interesting angle. It's a letter from the medical journals (no data, just opinion) about risk communication about pandemics from the mass media in Greece. the obervation was that oversaturation of H5N1 news was followed by a silence in mass media broadcasting on the story just as profound, a similar picture as we've seen in the US. The end result was an assumption on the part of the public that the crisis was over. The authors concluded that, among other findings, a poorly educated public was not in a position to adequately evaluate news that they were not prepared to interpret.

Effective risk communication is a priority early in an outbreak. Both the mass media and public health authorities have the responsibility to deliver correct information to the public. The fear-based approach and over-reaction towards a potential influenza pandemic may be hazardous to the general public, because it encourages solutions that inhibit the ability to properly respond to a potential pandemic.
That's not likely to happen with this audience. Daily Kos readers are media savvy, critical thinkers, and well educated (by now) on the H5N1 issue, the purpose of these posts. You know where and how to get information from the Internets and it needn't be spoon-fed.

That skill is needed in politics; it's going to be a valuable and necessary skill as well should the virus continue to lurch its way toward more efficient spread. And if not this virus, some other flu virus is bound to cause a pandemic. Pandemics happen whether we want them to, or not.

Stay informed, watch the news, and learn more when you're ready. An all-hazard approach to pandemics and other natural threats is simply the prudent thing to do, whether you're inclined to shoot the messenger or not.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. There are things you can do to prepare your family. And there are things you can do to prepare your business. The idea that you can do nothing besides sitting passively and reading the news is hogwash. But then again, you are activists. You already know that. Don't you?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  'a teachable moment' comes from (25+ / 0-)

    this excellent essay by Peter Sandman and Jody Lanard.

    Other risk communication pieces can be found here.

    This story will come and go as the attention span wanes, and I will continue to post here periodically on it, but not every day (and not always on the front page). But the story has kicked up a notch and deserves attention.

    Oh, and read that "science scores" post by DarkSyde today. Consider this an investment in adult education, one you won't get from mass media.

    "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:16:35 AM PDT

    •  My Comment Below Is One Thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, Plutonium Page, shirah

      The high quality of your reporting another.
      I didn't miss your nod to critical thinking.

      9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

      by NewDirection on Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:28:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Often flying blind (3+ / 0-)

      Not the birds - us. I feel a Rumsfeld moment coming on. There are true unknown unknowns here and lots of known unknowns. But what is really worrying is that this administration has tried to create more unknowns in all areas of science - and in workplace issues, one of my main focuses.

      They've played fast and loose with statistics that have been collected for decades on wages, women's work, pay, and the like, making it just plain impossible to know what is happening, what the trends are.

      Very worrying to have these folks in charge in these critical areas.

      Thanks for the update.

      unbossed investigative blogging

      by shirah on Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:52:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Incredibly good diary. (3+ / 0-)

      I don't really have anything to add, but since I was one of the commenters on yesterday's diary (with some very mild criticism), I just wanted to say excellent job.  This kind of information helps everyone.

    •  In case anyone is interested . .. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, deepintheheartoftx
      I discussed the essay in The Nation -- by the flu denier whose name Brass and Dwyer decline to mention -- here.  I did my best to keep it cool and substantive.  I also attracted comments from some very assertive, even angry, deniers.  Interesting.
    •  Awesome diary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      deepintheheartoftx

      Those here that feel this is not a topic worth discussing are fools.  I rarely call fellow Kossacks out, however this issue is too important to not face directly.  Not only does it affect each and every one of us personally, it is nearly as critical a public policy issue as is global warming.  Once again, do not submit to fear; educate yourselves independently and do not rely on the MSM to cover the topic appropriately.  I salute this excellent diary and its broad insight, and appeal to everyone to educate themselves with it.

      Honesty had been the single trait most closely associated with Bush, but in the current survey "incompetent" is the descriptor used most frequently.

      by Progressive Liberaltarian on Thu May 25, 2006 at 06:30:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bird Flu (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mimi9, Smallbottle

    Color me an unimpressed dunce if you wish. Yes I've read up on it substantially. Sure a new black plague could sweep us. Yes this concerns me as a family man. But when I filled out the Zogby poll on it I said I would support forced quarantines or stop going to work if a thousand died. Or ten thousand. Or a hundred thousand. Just to emphasize how unimpressed I am at the convenience of this nascent pandemic. It's always something... I think the amount of coverage given to it (not here except by indirect influence) is relative to the amount of other news the media would rather not cover.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:26:57 AM PDT

  •  Bird Flu.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shadan7

    Experts ARE concerned.  Sequences are being kept off-line because of an effort to prevent terrorism, is my guess.  There may be come commercial aspects, but grankly, most people in the field are more concerned there won't be enough antivirals to provide treatments..

    My biggest concern is that the protein vaccine for this approach takes too long to make vaccines.  I wish we could work more on DNA vaccines.  Problem is mode of delivery.

    I am cleaning my basement and getting my 2-4 weeks of supplies ready to prepare for a quarentine.  I am going to include a camp stove for booking and some propane.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 04:28:09 AM PDT

    •  it's interesting that the Navy (0+ / 0-)
      (NAMRU2 is in Indonesia, NAMRU3 is in Egypt) releases its sequences publicly to GenBank. H5N1 is apoor terror weapon because there's no vaccine and it cannot be controlled.

      If it were a bioterror thingie, the miltary wouldn't release sequences. and you need tose sequences for vaccine production.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:01:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You can use sequences to make viruses.... (0+ / 0-)

        I could order the oligo, passage the DNA through cells and make infectious particles of measles virus.  But that would be wrong.

        You are right that it is a serious illness and most scientists wouldn't consider doing this.  But from the Intellectual Property angle, why wouldn't they just want peole to figure out new DNA vaccines and treatments?   Even if the CDC didn't own the IP?

        In this case, I think it is less a conspiracy to think they think there is a conspiracy.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:35:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  one of my links above (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          deepintheheartoftx
          and note that few people click links! is to this story on the issue.

          Bird Flu Fears Ignite Debate on Scientists' Sharing of Data
          David Brown, A20 (Post)
          05/25/2006
          Article
          ...fears of an influenza pandemic grow, a struggle has emerged between experts who believe the latest genetic data on the H5N1 bird flu virus should be made public immediately and others who fear that such a policy would alienate the countries collecting virus...

          "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:54:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ack- you are right.... (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't click the link.

            So it is all about the F***ing credit?  

            Publish or we all perish you cretins.

            Sorry for the name calling, but scientists can be such vain, narrow idiots.

            You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

            by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:58:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  and people wondr what H5N1 has to do with (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              deepintheheartoftx
              politics. Sigh.

              "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 06:02:25 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  slightly more complicated (0+ / 0-)

              as the link above says:

              Most of the H5N1 samples his lab analyzes are provided by Asian scientists. Occasionally, they are given secretly if they come from a place where the virus has not been publicly reported.

              That is one additional issue -- if a country is kind enough to share data with us, do we have to at least respect their decision on when and how to make public health decisions like letting residents know a new variant is in the area?

              Any system that immediately disseminates gene sequences must be one that Asian nations -- China in particular -- do not think exploits them.

              That is a second additional issue -- if you lived in southeast Asia, how would you feel about doing research, sending your results to the US, where they may be used to produce a better vaccine that you will not yourself get access to?  Your only leverage is that you control the data.  What do you do?

              Even with both those additional considerations, I agree with you that the data should be shared as quickly as possible if not immediately (a separate argument can be made for the value of peer review, if it's speedy).  But it's not as simple as "vain narrow idiots."  These are actually pretty smart dedicated people working on it.

              •  I am sorry... (0+ / 0-)

                I am a scientist and I know a lot of vain and narrow scientists.  The system makes this happen. I think holding off sharing data on this important topic because you want to get a publication is somewhat vain and narrow.  Your name can go in the Genbank entry.  That ought to count for credit somewhere in the politics of academia.  

                The scientists themselves may be wanting to publish to keep their university jobs, which require publication.  Universities may be wanting them to keep this as intellectual property.  

                Vain and narrow- getting credit for your work from the national/international system.

                It isn't a huge discovery to purify a flu virus and get it sequenced- you need a lot of data and an analysis to get it published.  I guess if the sequences dribble out, the scientists are worried about someone else getting the credit.  Human Genome made a consortium and managed to give all those working on this huge project credit.  Maybe Bird Flu needs some push like this with international credit given.

                I guess I think it is too important to hold back on.

                You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 06:35:22 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  well, there's vain and then there's vain (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm sorry you've had that experience... I've been pretty happy with the people in my department and other places I've been, for the most part... even the most vain ones (the ones with the sport cars) would not withhold information for personal benefit that would help the world medical community that much. Webster in particular, who that article quotes, is not exactly in a tenure fight -- he is one of the most well-respected eminences grises in his field.  So to say it is a case of publish or perish, is I think off the mark.

                  There are real issues with exploiting genetic information from countries as I suppose you know.  Going to isolated populations where there is a genetic disease, studying them and identifying the relevant gene, and presumably using it to develop medicines that will not be offered to the group you studied.  (Often these are isolated native populations.)  It is the genome equivalent of buying Manhattan for a handful of beads.

                  We're in agreement anyway about what the outcome should be -- we're just disagreeing on whether there is any complexity to the issue.

                  •  Huh- (0+ / 0-)

                    Most vaccines are made with huge government funding in USA or Europe.  Subsidies, one might say.  And insurance policies to reduce the risk of getting a rare side effect from the vaccine are another subsidy.

                    WHO should be having their say and putting some funding into getting the vaccine out.

                    I don't think the tropical diseases are being worked on enough, often because there is no way the folks in say, Indonesia, will be able to pay the US rate for the drugs/vaccines.  The big companies don't bother to do the research at all as a result.  Military and government work on these diseases do our "war fighters" health can be protected.  It is sort of like the anti GMO people complaining because no one is working on making more nutritious GMO food.  That is silly, because what is needed is MORE food that peole like to eat, not newly engineered, more nutritious food.  We need more knowlege and more treatments and more vaccines NOT just more affordable ones.  First, lets make them and let affordable happen next.

                    If a drug is discovered it can be bootlegged or made generically too- and it will be.  We are talking about protecting ourselves with a vaccine after the bird flu moves in.   There is a strong strategy to give the vaccine to the local outbreaks in the Far East (or where-ever) or drugs for that matter, to nip the epidemic in the bud.  This attitude should be promoted- this is a global pandemic and needs a global response.  

                    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                    by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:42:36 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  The vanity I find... (0+ / 0-)

                      is the who is smartest sort of vanity.  The competition for most publications being at Harvard not say University of South Dakota.  Sports cars seem trivial compared to the ways we compete against ourselves in science and keep score- all grant writing is competition.  And it is a competition where success is based on publications, and team work is harder to achieve.

                      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

                      by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:45:23 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Bird Flu (0+ / 0-)

      Rumsfeld's growing stake in Tamiflu
      Defense Secretary, ex-chairman of flu treatment rights holder, sees portfolio value growing.
      October 31, 2005: 10:55 AM EST
      By Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune senior writer

      NEW YORK (Fortune) - The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu, the influenza remedy that's now the most-sought after drug in the world.

      Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Rumsfeld.

      The forms don't reveal the exact number of shares Rumsfeld owns, but in the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer.

      Rumsfeld isn't the only political heavyweight benefiting from demand for Tamiflu, which is manufactured and marketed by Swiss pharma giant Roche. (Gilead receives a royalty from Roche equaling about 10% of sales.) Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005.

      Another board member is the wife of former California Gov. Pete Wilson.

      "I don't know of any biotech company that's so politically well-connected," says analyst Andrew McDonald of Think Equity Partners in San Francisco.

      What's more, the federal government is emerging as one of the world's biggest customers for Tamiflu. In July, the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the treatment for U.S. troops around the world, and Congress is considering a multi-billion dollar purchase. Roche expects 2005 sales for Tamiflu to be about $1 billion, compared with $258 million in 2004.

      Rumsfeld recused himself from any decisions involving Gilead when he left Gilead and became Secretary of Defense in early 2001. And late last month, notes a senior Pentagon official, Rumsfeld went even further and had the Pentagon's general counsel issue additional instructions outlining what he could and could not be involved in if there were an avian flu pandemic and the Pentagon had to respond.

      As the flu issue heated up early this year, according to the Pentagon official, Rumsfeld considered unloading his entire Gilead stake and sought the advice of the Department of Justice, the SEC and the federal Office of Government Ethics.

      Those agencies didn't offer an opinion so Rumsfeld consulted a private securities lawyer, who advised him that it was safer to hold on to the stock and be quite public about his recusal rather than sell and run the risk of being accused of trading on insider information, something Rumsfeld doesn't believe he possesses. So he's keeping his shares for the time being.

      •  gee thanks (5+ / 0-)
        I never heard that before.

        "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:55:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  gee thanks (0+ / 0-)

          Bird Flu transmitting from human to human is pure bull shit.

          Bird Flu was also hyped up in the 1990s.

          Rumsfeld is hyping up the threat with Bird Flu to sell his very own Tamilflu just as he hyped up the threat of WMDs in Iraq for the military complex.

          You are, knowingly or not, hyping up the threat despite the fact that Bird Flu is not and cannot transmit from human to human

          •  ah - I was wrong to think of you as (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DaveV, snakelass
            just a #7 when you are, in fact also a #8. Flat earth type, eh?

            Bird Flu transmitting from human to human is pure bull shit.

            I see. So eminent scientists and epidemiologists from all over the world say it is, WHO says it is (examples given), and your qualifications to judge this are... what, exactly? But you're right and they're wrong becuase... why?

            Now, let's do a thought experiment. What if it is H2H? What then for you?

            "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:01:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Key Facts About Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) (0+ / 0-)

              The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans.

              However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997.

              Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds.

              The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

              www.cdc.gov

              •  cdc will be rewriting that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                snakelass

                which, btw, was the point of my yesterday's post and today's. But it's a government site, and they don't do things quickly.

                The discussion and issue, is not how to interpret yesterday's news, but how to prepare for tomorrow's.

                But even CDC acknowledges "the spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely", which of course contradicts your claim that human to human spread is bullshit (you prabably meant chickenshit, but we'll give you a pass there).

                "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:59:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Which eminent scientists? (0+ / 0-)

              So which eminent scientists and epidemiologists from all over the world say Flu transmitting from human to human?

              Links please.

              •  you're mixing apples and oranges (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tzt
                WHO, Ungchusak and Dowell, etc. have discussed the human to human cases. WHO says in multiple places that there was a case in Vietnam and a case in Thailand. In fact, I quoted them in my piece.
                   It is the fourth - and largest - family cluster of bird flu cases likely transmitted from human to human since the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based WHO.

                "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:26:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  San Francisco is still standing (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DaveV, snakelass

            You know, ever since 1906 people have been saying San Francisco (and Los Angeles) will be flattened by The Big One (Earthquake). But since it hasn't happened yet, I guess everyone was full of hot air.

            (Oh, no, that was the scientists predicting a Cat 5 hurricane would hit New Orleans someday. THEY are full of hot air that produced the heat to fuel a mere Cat 3 hurricane hitting Mississippi. It actually missed New Orleans. Nyah, nyah, they got it wrong!)

          •  Love playing with terminology.... (0+ / 0-)

            Bird Flu will not be pandemic.  Why?

            Because it will not be Bird Flu anymore, but human Flu!

            Thank you, Thank you very much... Don't forget to tip your waiter or waitress.

    •  Quarentine needs (0+ / 0-)

      I am glad that you are considering stocking up for a quarentine- but from what I have read- from expert sites on pandemics- the disruption of goods and services might run between 6-18 months! I have a 6-month stockage right now, and am growing it to a year, which might seem extreme, but really isn't. One can use their storage pantry foods during 'tough' times as well, and the folks who advocate food storage say that you should incorporate it into your 'normal' cooking to keep things fresh.

      Having had to dip into my pantry during 'short' times, I can say that it is a good investment.

      I'm too poor to be a Republican.

      by Sunfell on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:19:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The problem is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shadan7, Catte Nappe

    if you hype it too much and it doesn't happen, people wil ignore future hyped threats.  If you don't talk about it enough, you have an uneducated public if and when it does happen.  It really is a balancing act.

    The fact is we as humans in a global economy are at risk for a huge pandemic that can kill off many hundreds of thousands of people.  The question is will that pandemic be flu or something else like the next SARS. (an infectious agent that we cannot foresee.)

    I don't care how much planning you do, you're never going to be fully prepared.  That's not to say we shouldn't make such plans.  That's to say that even with emergency plans, there will be chaos and uncertainty.  Katrina is our modern day example of survival of the fittest....man (and woman) will do what it takes to survive.

    •  Katrina is both a powerful example (4+ / 0-)

      and a metaphor. Hard not to remember it or use it. And very apt.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:11:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Katrina model... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Plutonium Page, murrayewv

      ...is valuable on several levels, in that it shows what widespread chaos and failure to plan can mean.  But with a pandemic, whether H5N1 or something else, there will be no option for people bugging out in advance of the landfall.  

      The government tells us to plan to be on our own for 72 hours in the event of a large-scale but localized emergency.  What then with a true global emergency?  Simple prudence requires some sober assessment and planning.

      It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument. -- William G. McAdoo (-5.88/-5.23)

      by Shadan7 on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:25:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  in Amsterdam... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shadan7, deepintheheartoftx

        ... we figure that the main problem will be panic when/if there's a human H5N1 case here, or nearby.

        We've stocked up enough for only about three days, though.  We need to keep stocking up.

        We have a dumbass tabloid that will make people go apeshit at the grocery stores.  I guess that's the same everywhere.


        Want to know who's attacking Al Gore? Click here!

        by Page van der Linden on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:30:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  oh, and one semi-random comment (5+ / 0-)

        There was a bird flu problem here a few years ago.  It was one of the other bird flu viruses, but it did kill one veterinarian.

        Millions of euros were lost when they had to kill lots of chickens.  That's a prime example of the economic impact of a bird flu pandemic, except with a pandemic, it'll be a worldwide economic disaster.

        I was talking to my vet and his colleague about H5N1 mutating.  They're both very serious and quite concerned about the possibility, but rational at the same time.


        Want to know who's attacking Al Gore? Click here!

        by Page van der Linden on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:33:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  it was H7N7 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shadan7, deepintheheartoftx
          there are other flus besides H5N1. H9N1 and H7N2 also have sporadic (maybe less than 10 total) human interaction. The next pandemic may be one of those, but they don't kill like H5N1 does.

          Still, even a mild pandemic kills plenty of people and our health care system could not handle amild pandemic. As for a severe one...

          "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:58:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A very real worry about hysteria (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DemFromCT

          Is that fear of "bird flu" could cause thousands or millions of domestic birds to be destroyed unnecessarily, including birds that did not get sick - exactly the birds we most want to keep in the gene pool. The loss of genetic diversity would be irrecoverable. Plus, people with small personal flocks could lose their livelihoods producing poultry or their personal source of meat and eggs.

          If this thing goes bad, we won't be getting it from birds anyway. In fact, it's reasonably likely that a mutant flu that infects H2H easily will not infect birds easily.

          Big Agriculture is using the fear to insist that backyard poultry is the problem and that all birds should be raised indoors. Bye Bye organic poultry. Concentrating our food supply into a few large producers will not make us safer.

  •  Auto-Immune reaction (0+ / 0-)

    From what I've heard the flu virus in this case doesn't kill u it's your bodies immune reaction in the lungs that drown you in your own blood. Aren't there any drugs that stop or lessen such a reaction? Maybe, the scientific community should be looking for ways to deal with the immune response at the same time it works on a vaccine. I'm not a medical prof. so it's just speculation on my part.

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees"

    by Blutodog on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:10:36 AM PDT

    •  it's called cytokine storm (5+ / 0-)

      and it's hellishly complex. You can't easily treat something that complex without doing damage elsewhere. Shotgun treatments have been disappointing.

      But don't worry. Some snake oil salseman will sell something on the internets.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:15:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember reading about that with respect to (0+ / 0-)

        smallpox.  Really interesting from a scientific point of view, but awfully sad frightening from a medical point of view.

        I almost feel guilty when I'm impressed and fascinated by how efficent protein-coated nucleic acids can be at destroying a living organism.


        Want to know who's attacking Al Gore? Click here!

        by Page van der Linden on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:20:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We don't have doctors, equipment.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elfling

        or hospital beds enough to treat this.  And we need to have the doctors/nurses/lab techs/orderlies not sick themselves.  And we need to make sure the power gird and essential serivices don't fail because people get sick- think W2K.

        Yes, I know Y2K sounded like a big scare tactic- but it prevented a lot of problems and built up the world's computers and infrastructure.  I pray for bird flu to be like Y2K.  

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:40:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

          Y2k did a lot of good. It forced the Big Corps. and parts of the Gov't to invest billions into new computers and to upgrade older systems that might have had some Y2k problems. I personally think it wasn't really much of a problem in retrospect though. What we missed was how  society although very inter-dependent it's also extremely durable as well. The Flu on the other hand if it maintains it's present lethality ratio will  a much more efficent job of making a mess of society. We need to pour a ton of resources into preparing for such pandemic crisises. They're going to happen they always have and they always will. With 6.5 billion people though I'm not worried about the survival of the entire race. People will survive and society will re-constitute itself somehow someday even if the worse case scenario occurs. Personally, I'd prefer to check out if that's the case because for a time it's going to be like the old Road Warrior movies of the 80's or worse.

          "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees"

          by Blutodog on Fri May 26, 2006 at 05:55:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There are immunosuppressants, yes. (0+ / 0-)

      I have to wonder if any research has been done on the use of those...

      "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross" - Sinclair Lewis

      by Loboguara on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:07:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly my thinking: (0+ / 0-)

        That's exactly my reasoning. Everyone is so busy looking at ways to kill the virus or contain it through the traditional methods of vaccines etc. maybe we have to do a paradigm shift here and focus on ways to lessen the bodies extreme reaction (the Cytokine storm effect)  by using immunosuppressant methods (drugs) whatever to stop the storm from killing so many people quickly. This would buy our Drs. time to figure out other ways to fight the virus externally. It's an irony that Avian type flu and the 1918 Spanish variety seem to kill in the opposite way that AIDS/HIV kill people. AIDS/HIV attacks the Immune system weakens the Immune response and the person dies from secondary infections. These killer type flus trigger a massive immune reaction for some reason that quickly kills the person. In essence the body trying to defend itself KILLS itself! Weird. Or is it?  It might be we should be looking at Transplant patients for clues how to survive this calamity.

        "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees"

        by Blutodog on Fri May 26, 2006 at 06:05:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Only paying peripheral (0+ / 0-)

    attention to the issue, but what's the deal with Bucharest
    ? 13,000 people quarantined seems pretty extreme if no H2H. Anybody know more?

    Quotes from others express a mental laziness in themselves.

    by rudgrl on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:15:54 AM PDT

  •  Rumsfeld's Avian Flu is BULLSHIT (0+ / 0-)

    C'mon, Avian Flu is BULLSHIT.

    Rumsfeld's TamilFlu is USELESS.

    Avian Flu appeared back in the 1990s also.

    Back then, the media was less influential and did not have the scrutiny that it has today.

    Here:

    WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said it was unlikely the agency would raise the alert level in the immediate future.

    "We haven't seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human," Cheng told The Associated Press.

    She said WHO had considered convening a meeting of experts to debate whether to raise the alert level, but had decided that the current situation did not merit that step.

    "We had discussed that," she said. "But that is not going to happen."

    The agency has suspected that in rare cases bird flu may have passed from one person to another, but it usually has been caught by people from chickens and other poultry.

    WHO said that testing indicated there had been no significant mutations in the virus. Experts have feared that a mutation of the virus into a strain that could easily pass among humans could set off a deadly flu pandemic.

    [snip]

    So far health workers have found no sign that the case has moved outside the family and there is also "no evidence that efficient human-to-human transmission has occurred."

    Laboratory testing has completed full genetic sequencing of two viruses isolated from cases in this cluster. That has found "no evidence of genetic reassortment with human or pig influenza viruses and no evidence of significant mutations," WHO said.

    More:

    There is no indication the Sumatra infections had spread to anyone outside the family.

    "We are not seeing it pass on a more casual basis which would be the trigger for us to go to a higher pandemic alert level," Cheng said.

    [snip]

    "No matter what's going on at this stage, it's a limited transmission between members of the same family," Cordingley said.

    "What we are looking out for is any sign of this virus going outside of this family cluster into the general community, that would be very worrying. We haven't seen any signs of that yet."

    •  Darwin Award! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DemFromCT, deepintheheartoftx, tzt, mhw

      You are the proud recipient of today's Darwin Award.

      Congratulations!

      <applause>


      Want to know who's attacking Al Gore? Click here!

      by Page van der Linden on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:37:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ah yes the 1990s (5+ / 0-)

      I remember them well

      Back when "the media was less influential" and everyone could be exposed to bird flu but it didn't hurt anyone.

      And the levees held.

      And no one lied.

      And we all rode on unicorns.

    •  Utterly uninformed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, snakelass

      Influenza is one of the most mutable viruses on the planet.  A virus incapable or only rarely capable of H2H transmission one day can undergo mutuation the next and attain the transmission rate of the common cold.  And H5N1's mortality rate is something we need to worry about; if it does acquire easy H2H transmission abilities, it will become another 1918, but on a much larger scale.

      The avian flu that showed up in the '90s wasn't the same disease, and you are mistaken to lump them together.  It's like saying that we have E. coli in our stomachs, so we don't need to worry about E. coli on our food; different strains, completely different effects.

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Thu May 25, 2006 at 08:04:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  H5N1 been around since the 1980s and 1990s: Yawn! (0+ / 0-)

        Phoenix Rising: The avian flu that showed up in the '90s wasn't the same disease, and you are mistaken to lump them together.

        The avian flu that showed up in the '90s was H5N1.

        H5N1 has actually been around since at least the 1980s!

        These are well-know FACTS.

        See

        Epizootiology of Avian Influenza: Simultaneous Monitoring of Sentinel Ducks and Turkeys in Minnesota, D. Halvorson; D. Karunakaran; D. Senne; C. Kelleher; C. Bailey; A. Abraham; V. Hinshaw; J. Newman, Avian Diseases > Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1983), pp. 77-85

        Virus Isolations from Pet Birds Submitted for Importation into the United States, D. A. Senne; J. E. Pearson; L. D. Miller; G. A. Gustafson, Avian Diseases > Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jul., 1983), pp. 731-744

        Sequence Offers Clues to Deadly Flu, Gretchen Vogel,
        Science > New Series, Vol. 279, No. 5349 (Jan., 1998), p. 324

        Infectious History, Joshua Lederberg, Science > New Series, Vol. 288, No. 5464 (Apr., 2000), pp. 287-293

        Pathogenicity of a Hong Kong-Origin H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus for Emus, Geese, Ducks, and Pigeons, Laura E. Leigh Perkins; David E. Swayne
        Avian Diseases > Vol. 46, No. 1 (Jan., 2002), pp. 53-63

        •  actually it's been around since the late 50's (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snakelass, tzt

          but it's undergone genetic change since then, becoming much more pathogenic.

          The H5N1 of today (2003 on) is far more virulent than the one that appeared in Hong Kong in 1997. More people have died from it so far in 2006 than all of 2005.

          This is about its potential, and the downside there is huge. That's because viruses evolve. it's also because Indonesia is doing a poor job in controlling it.

          "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:52:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually it's been around since the late 50's (0+ / 0-)

            Thanks!

            Source?

            This should be great.

            •  it should be great! I can't wait! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tzt

              WHO, see table. It was first described in Scotland in 1959.

              Also, see Wikipedia, or google it and you'll verify.

              The first known strain of HPAI A(H5N1) (called A/chicken/Scotland/59) killed two flocks of chickens in Scotland in 1959; but that strain was very different from the current highly pathogenic strain of H5N1. The dominant strain of HPAI A(H5N1) in 2004 evolved from 1999 to 2002 creating the Z genotype.[7] It has also been called "Asian lineage HPAI A(H5N1)".

              It took a while to get to where it is. Why do you think it's done evolving?

              "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:08:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Evolving (0+ / 0-)

                I never wrote or suggested that "it's done evolving".

                This attempt to preempt the Avian flu is schizophrenic and ultra-paranoid.

                In method, it parallels the rationale for the attack Saddam Hussein before he attacks us.

                FUCKING WEIRD!!!

                Pure bull shit!

                As of today, it is physically and statistcally not a problem.

                •  who are you trying to convince of that? (0+ / 0-)
                  yourself? Read the other comments in this post, especially the ones trying to enlighten you.

                  "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:28:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  This guy is Troll-like (0+ / 0-)

      This guy doesn't know the facts or is twisting things to fit his Rumsfeld theory.  The funny thing is, it just proves the point that the weirdos come out in diaries like this.

      abhinavagupta, please read up on the Spanish Flu for clues:

      Wikipedia: Spanish Flu

      I also appears you have little understanding of long run probabilities.  If that sounds harsh, sorry, but your comments here are silly and trollish.

      We all understand that the current avian flu is of little relative danger, the danger is the potential mutation of the future. All of you arguments seem to be based on the present.  Hopefully, with knowledge of what happened in the past ("Spanish Flu"), you might change your stance.

  •  I am perhaps too dispassionate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, Catte Nappe

    to put much stock in any sort of fearmongering, but given the population densities and number of humans involved in the problem, and our baffling inability to master far more deadly outbreaks of diseases such as AIDS, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry when I see Jon Stewart poking fun at the issue.  We threw as much money at AIDS as the entire Apollo space program, and we've still got a bunch of dummies out there with moral issues about condoms.

    Worked around chickens a lot as a kid.  Can't put too many of them in any one barn, they're prone to epidemics of respiratory infections.  West Nile virus is going through avian populations with deadly effectiveness.  Like H5N1, West Nile can jump to humans.  Wish I knew more about the vectors for H5N1, can't know everything, I suppose.

    Virii evolve, the thetas for virus mutations is fast, too.  Not encouraging.

    People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found by others.

    by BlaiseP on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:33:22 AM PDT

    •  Did You Ever See That Weird Spinal Cancer (0+ / 0-)

      Where the chickens get paralyzed? Ugh. That happened and I had to collect all the afflicted ones and chop their heads off. It was just, one morning, poof. Chickens laying around flaccid with no spinal control left and right (we didn't pen them). Macabre and some might say comical but it wasn't.

      9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

      by NewDirection on Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:50:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post (3+ / 0-)

    I agree we need to get some real political leadership on this issue.  Whether or not the threat materializes,  it's better to be prepared.  And it's certainly more probable than, say, space-based nukes or Iraqi WMD, both of which are guzzling budget dollars.

    Mobilizing for public health is always so hard b/c it's all probabilities and potentialities.  I'm interested to see ways to do it.

    Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

    by ChicagoDem on Thu May 25, 2006 at 05:35:16 AM PDT

    •  bingo!!!!!! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChicagoDem, deepintheheartoftx

      you can try electing pols who have a sense of the problem. I'd say try a Dem for a change, ones who understand our public health infrastructure is broken, and put them in charge, but perhaps there are other solutions out there.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 06:06:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Totally (0+ / 0-)

        HHS has been undervalued all through this administration, and the only public health dollars we've seen have gone to bioterrorism.  Meanwhile, it's gone out of its way to alienate the scientific community AND the international orgs that will be important in fighting a potential pandemic.  It seems that, like the war, just getting Bush out of office will have a fundamentally positive impact.

        Read James Loewen's "Sundown Towns"!

        by ChicagoDem on Thu May 25, 2006 at 06:41:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Things you can do (0+ / 0-)

    Write a letter to the editor (copying your local government) advocating improved santiation and hygene education.

    My neighbors cough and sneeze without covering their mouths.  They spit on the sidewalk.  Without massive education on prevention of spread of disease, my neighborhood will be one big petri dish.  This message needs to get out in schools, churches, community groups, everywhere.  

    Make a difference in your neighborhood and spread the word about basic hygene and santiation precautions that help prevent the spread of disease.

    •  This is the only practical suggestion I have seen (0+ / 0-)

      amidst all the fearmongering.

      Too much of the flu literature is survivalist in nature, calling on people to stash tuna in their mattresses, give over a closet to storing water and learning to mix hydration drinks in their basement. The survivalist tone is what is off-putting, especially since, in the event of a true pandemic, your preparations will have relatively little to do with whether you sicken or die.

      I remember, during the SARS epidemic, I regularly worked out at a gym attached to a tony hotel frequented by Asian businessmen. To be cautious, and because I don't like to get colds anyway, I tried to be as sanitary as possible. I tried to make sure never to touch my face while working out, and not until after I had left the gym and Purell'ed my hands. It proved utterly impossible. I caught a cold that was going around the gym anyway.

      But there are practical steps people can take easily, often at little or no cost. And what distinguishes them from the survivalist nonsense is that they are good public health practices anyway. Avoid handshaking during flu season; cough into your arm, not your hand; and carry Purell with you, especially since so many Americans use the toilet without washing their hands.

      This, I support. But the fact remains, the hope for stopping a pandemic if virus becomes highly contagious lie entirely within the realm of scientists, governments and public health officials. Rapid quarantine procedures may have played some role in stopping SARs. Vaccinating around outbreaks can provide a firewall (although the idea of inoculating every American is both silly and dangerous; our hospitals cannot save a million Guillain-Barre patients). But buying plywood to board up your windows or trying to get your doctor to write a script for five months' of medication is just silly.

      •  there's plenbty of practical advice at Flu WIKI (0+ / 0-)

        look at the main page and the tips of the week

        In addtion there are lthe links in the last paragraph of my post.

        This is far bigger than a public health problem. Just-in-tim delivieries are at risk from any of a varienty of natural events, more so than ever before.

        Preparation cannot be left just to the docs. And the scope of the problem needs to be appreciated. That's why the World Economic Forum lists pandemic flu as the gravest current risk to the world economy.

        "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:48:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Timeline (0+ / 0-)

    In an effort to take advantage of a teachable moment, can anyone point to a timeline of H5N1 appearance and development, from its origin to the latest reported incident?

    Thanks for the diary and keep up the good work!

    A fool and his liberty are soon parted. [-8.38,-6.15]

    by Jeff G on Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:23:17 AM PDT

  •  Achoo! (0+ / 0-)

    Suddenly, I don't feel so good. Is it chilly in here for you, too?

    But we shouldn't worry. After all, we are protected by an administration with a sterling record for timely, appropriate, competent and selfless respose to crisis situations.

    OK, now I feel better. Tuna, anyone?

    A liberal is a man so broadminded he wouldn't take his own side in an argument........Robert Frost

    by mjshep on Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:29:42 AM PDT

  •  ACOEM Webinar on pandemic flu preparedness (2+ / 0-)

    Thought this might interest you. More information on the website and there is a BNA Occupational Health report on the presentations.

    Pandemic Flu Preparedness: General Health Policy Guidance and Pandemic Preparedness Planning – What Organizations Should Do

    ACOEM has scheduled a two-part webinar on pandemic flu preparedness.  Part I took place on December 20, 2005 at 12–1 pm EST and Part II took place on January 24, 2006 at 12–1:30 p.m. EST.  These webinars have been developed to provide the most up-to-date information on issues surrounding pandemic flu and the current regional response to the avian flu (H5N1).  They are designed to respond to questions of corporate preparedness and the appropriate issues to address in a crisis management plan.  During Part I, a representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an overview of the current flu's pandemic potential and an update on H5N1, including ongoing regional response in Asia.  In addition, pandemic preparedness issues for occupational health professionals were addressed.  During Part II, was a discussion on the issues that corporations, medical centers, small to medium sized companies, and community-based occupational health clinics face in developing a response plan surrounding flu, outbreaks, pandemic preparedness planning, and avian flu.

    unbossed investigative blogging

    by shirah on Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:39:21 AM PDT

  •  Keep it up CTDem! (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent work on this thorny issue.

    •  Avian Flu is not a threat (1+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Enough Talk Lets Get Busy
      Hidden by:
      elfling

      Excellent work on this thorny issue?

      Avian Flu is not a threat.

      Avian Flu has been around since at least the 1990s.

      Strange how all of a sudden it gets active while Rumsfeld happens to be a major stockholder in the company selling Tamilflu?

      •  this is a repost (0+ / 0-)

        of comments up thread.  Getting Trollish.

      •  And the plague has been around for at least 600 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DemFromCT

        years and yet, I don't feel threatened by the plague. Its out there! H5N1 is different. It is emergent, it is adapting.

        I am an occupational health and safety specialist with a small gov't department in the great white north. We have fewer than 1000 employees but we are investing 10s of thousand of dollars on pandemic planning. Yes, H5N1 is a threat but it isn't the only threat. TSWHTF, maybe not this year, maybe not in ten, but it will. If nothing else, my organization is taking the time to think it through, to plan for that eventuality, to protect employees. N95 masks don't have a "best before" date. We can use them when needed.

        Ya think we are concerned with Donald Rumsfeld's stock? Hell, we even dismissed including Tamiflu in our plan and we don't intend on buying the stuff.  

  •  Four generations and it killed 5 of 6 (0+ / 0-)

    What happened to the predictions of a lessening in lethality after each generation?

    "When the truth is found to be lies. And all the joy within you dies." Grace Slick, 1966 -3.88, -5.49

    by dhomyak on Thu May 25, 2006 at 08:38:28 AM PDT

    •  Apparently not holding. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dhomyak

      The theory was, IIRC, that a virus mutation that enabled H2H transmission might also weaken the virus.  Since the virus in this case has mutated so little (at least according to word-of-mouth reports), it hasn't lost any of its virulence.

      There's still the distinct possibility that a future mutation that allows easier H2H transmission might seriously weaken the virus.  But it's only a possibility, not a probability.

      Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt

      by Phoenix Rising on Thu May 25, 2006 at 08:47:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks - incubation period? (0+ / 0-)

        How long from exposure to onset of visible symptoms?  Does anyone know yet?

        "When the truth is found to be lies. And all the joy within you dies." Grace Slick, 1966 -3.88, -5.49

        by dhomyak on Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:50:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  2-5 days is average (0+ / 0-)

          though some studies suggest as long as 2 weeks. That's because (some say) there is some insistance on poultry exposure and denial of H2H.

          So, figure 2-5 days. Perhaps a day or two longer than the seasonal flu that circulates every year.

          "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:54:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DemFromCT

            Tell's me how long to quarantine my late arriving relatives at the hidden valley ranch...

            Now, what is the shelf life of good scotch? Have to have my supply priorities.

            "When the truth is found to be lies. And all the joy within you dies." Grace Slick, 1966 -3.88, -5.49

            by dhomyak on Thu May 25, 2006 at 01:05:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine BushCorp's delight with another (0+ / 0-)

    opportunity to flex its population control reflexes on behalf of those anti-democratic, pro-corporatist impulses it masks. Context: when the Bush Pestilence focuses on any specific topic, and flacks it until it appears to the national consciousness to be de facto knowledge, what is their calculus? A little critical thinking suggests that they perceive a net benefit to them by setting up H5N1 as the next fearful spectre. Recall that Karl Rove favors the Trojan Horse strategy of setting up illusory, vaguely expressed threat memes as the basis for a "legitimate" pretext to extend BushCorp's control over increasingly broad areas of American/International political, economic and social activity. Obvious examples include these false ideas, all of which persist in the uncritical national mind the way urban myths do. "Bin Laden carried out 9-11 under the noses of the most sophisticated intelligence apparatus in the world." "Saddam Hussein is World Enemy Number 1, and is developing nuclear weapons." "Iran "has" nuclear weapons capability, and is pursuing them vigorously." "Spying on the American Sheeple is for their own good." The Bush/GOP/Plutocratic machine then projects these ideas on the large screen of a complicit media. It re-energizes them whenever it perceives its influence over mass mind thinking is waning with breathlessly reported "new developments" the Bush propaganda team (White House, Pentagon, Congress, the MSM) have cooked up. These false cognitions are classic psy ops tools, used to muddle and confuse citizens' thinking, to spread disinformation, to blunt legitimate dissent, to spread fear, and to shore up BushCorp's sagging public profile. Thus, spreading information about an imagined flu epidemic provides the rogue Bush "government" with several advantages. The sheep/cattle are panicked, distracted over concerns for personal safety; we all look like potential dangers to each other--"don't come too close, how do I know you don't have Bird Flu?"; in short, communities of common purpose, like Daily Kos, anti-war movements, etc, might fragment under the competing pressures of the desire for self-preservation and wild-eyed fear of "something dimly perceived and not well understood that's going to hurt us somehow, if we don't attend to it immediately". The classic metaphor: firing a gun into the air at a stockyard to panic cattle into the pens that feed directly into the slaughterhouse.

    Solutions: view ANY topic BushCorp focuses on with rational caution. Research for the truth. Post the truth everywhere. Spread the truth in the public sphere--blogs are not the public sphere for 200 million or more Americans--by writing letters to the editor, questioning false premises underlying duped public perceptions; by talking with family members, friends, neighbors, and openly challenging anyone's uncritical assessments of what's actually going on; by referring thinking people to the more informative blogs. Campaign actively in favor of scrapping electronic "vote manipulation" machines for paper ballot voting systems; seek out your community's/city's/state's progressive political organizations and contribute time, ideas, money and other resources as if your future freedom depended upon your every effort NOW.   Study the history of prior and existing hard and soft dictatorships the world over to understand the anatomy of the BushCorp hostile takeover effort that's been pressed against the US Constitution and ALL OF US since John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were removed from public life.

    Finally, and I mean no disrespect, I believe it's really important not to confuse one's active, ongoing participation on Daily Kos with active engagement in progressive political, economic  and social activism "on the street".

    "America may be unique in being a country which has leapt from barbarism to decadence without touching civilization." -- John O'Hara

    by Enough Talk Lets Get Busy on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:29:07 AM PDT

    •  A little Fringey (0+ / 0-)

      So, we are not to let Bush and the executive branch take the lead on the Avian Flu because it will provide "political advantage"?  It might be all hype so Bush can scare folks into voting Republican?

      Whatever.  I'd much prefer spending on the Avian Flu than Iraq.  And if the shit hits the fan, guess what, ANY president of the U.S. is going to become autocratic.  Like it or not, Bush is th President right now.  He will have to take the lead if the shit hits the fan.  And I'm not sure how he gets political advantage in a "pre-pandemic" world.  It seems like Democrats would be the ones demanding more funds and programs.

      Just as you say, "view ANY topic BushCorp focuses on with rational caution."

      I'd say: "Don't let your distrust of Bush turn every issue into a conspiracy."

      We are all humans who are capable of thinking of multiple issues at once.  The main role we can have regarding the Bird Flu is to make sure the governement is on top of the situation and preparing us all for the worse -case scenario.  We can then move on to the multiple other issues you raised in your post.

      Blow off the bird flu if you must.  I'll be equally happy being told "I told you so" after spending billions for nothing.  If the flip-side happened, we'd all have loved ones in the grave.  

      P.S. Democracts could simply say: "Who would you trust to watch out for you in a disaster?"

      Then cue the Katrina footage....

  •  Enough Talk enjoys some humble pie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT

    DemFromCT has constructed a well-reasoned diary. I did not peruse the Brass-Dwyer "Nine Reasons" message carefully enough. Certainly H5N1 deserves to be respected as having the potential to become a population bomb of devastating proportions. I am not nay-saying DemFromCT's thoughtfulness in this regard, nor am I questioning the considerable public service the H5N1 diary posts represent. What I intended is to keep the hot white light focused on the "usual suspects " in this noir, the casually paced Bush minions and their handlers, who are--"make no mistake about it"--figuring out just how this scenario can be put to purpose benefitting their power/control schemes. A hearty slap on the back to DemFromCT, and an offer of a hug to disgruntled abhinavagupta.

    "America may be unique in being a country which has leapt from barbarism to decadence without touching civilization." -- John O'Hara

    by Enough Talk Lets Get Busy on Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:51:12 AM PDT

  •  Science Says (0+ / 0-)

    I am the child of medical scientists who grew up discussing mutation at the breakfast table. (We understood evolution at our house, and even when we were in church.) This particular flu has never impressed me. Everything I have read indicates this virus is not what one would expect from a successful flu virus. To succeed a virus must go forth and multiply. It can't do that if it kills too many too quickly. The virus kills itself before it can take hold. Also, it appears to require contact with bodily fluids to spread. This flu virus is acting more like Ebola, where a successful flu virus (always as far as I know) spreads from the upper respiratory tract.

    This is very simplistic, and I have stockpiled food, water, and medicine (including Tamiflu) just in case, because we are over due for a flu pandemic.

    When it happens, we are going to need a president who not only tells the truth, but is a statesman or stateswoman. If the world loses a billion people, or even a half billion, America could lose 50 million people. The flu virus will circle the earth again and again for about EIGHTEEN MONTHS. Children will no longer go to school. People will be afraid to go to work. Those of us who have home based businesses will have no customers. The economy will collapse. Look at how much power the neocons where able to amass from 9/11. If the flu hits, we could become a dictatorship in HOURS unless we have a real democratic government, which we do not have now. That is why bird flu is critically important to politics and to Daily Kos.

    •  this virus may never go pandemic (0+ / 0-)

      but some other one assuredly will. however, this virus makes a liar out of the 'experts' about every month or so when it does something new.

      And you have brought home the concept that politics and flu are related... as long as prep takes money, politics will be involved.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:28:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ABC Scare Mongering Movie (0+ / 0-)

    ABC aired their scaremongering TV movie this month.

    Fatal Contact - Bird Flu in America teaches us that the flu will kill millions, but then average Americans will pull together and overcome after the government can't tie their own shoes.  Then we all die from the next strain.  Plus, swipes at the French.

    http://tarstarkas.net/ http://politisink.com/

    by Tars Tarkas on Thu May 25, 2006 at 10:40:48 AM PDT

  •  Which eminent scientists? (0+ / 0-)

    Which eminent scientists are stating that the Avian Flu has been transmitting and is now actively transmiting from human to human?

    Thanks for the links!

    •  links (0+ / 0-)

      It is the fourth - and largest - family cluster of bird flu cases likely transmitted from human to human since the start of the outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003, said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the Geneva-based WHO.

      it's up in the body of my post.

      See also Ungchusak and Dowell in the NEJM for an earlier case.

      You won't find the Indonesian cluster published in the literature yet, because it's just happening now.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:13:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  likely, probable? (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        DemFromCT

        Ungchusak and Dowell: No evidence of efficient person-to-person transmission has yet been reported.

        Gregory Hartl: likely transmitted from human to human

        Likely and actually are not even close.

        Thanks for the WHO para.

        Avian Flu has been around since the 1950s!!

        Strange how Avian Flu  just becomes a likely and probable threat at the exact same time when Rumsfeld happens to be holding stock in the company making the vaccine?

        Strange how Avian Flu  just becomes a likely and probable threat just after Hussein became a likely and probable threat after 9/11?

        Yawn!

        •  You're terminally stupid (0+ / 0-)

          probably literally, given what you're saying about H5N1.


          Want to know who's attacking Al Gore? Click here!

          by Page van der Linden on Thu May 25, 2006 at 12:12:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Plutonium Page = Henny Penny (0+ / 1-)
            Recommended by:
            Hidden by:
            DemFromCT

            Plutonium Page: You're terminally stupid probably literally, given what you're saying about H5N1.

            Oh, employing GOP tactics, i.e., attack the messenger instead of destroying the `oh-so-stupid' message while yelling the sky is falling?

            What have I posted that is stupid?

            Point it out.

            It should be so easy for one of your level of intelligence....

            FACT: The WHO has not raised the alert level. It has no plans to do so.

            FACT: The WHO has not seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human.

            FACT: The WHO considered convening a meeting of experts to debate whether to raise the alert level. However, it decided that the current situation did not merit that step.

            FACT: The WHO  indicated there had been no significant mutations in the virus.

        •  LOL (0+ / 0-)

          no, i didn't invent this poster! I swear!!

          "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 12:25:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'll bet people reading this diary said (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheGeneral

      One such reaction appeared to be absolute indignation that anyone could 'waste time' on stories about H5N1.

      What is he talking about?

      Well, thanks for illustrating my point. And no, I didn't invent you for teaching purposes.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 11:48:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No Evidence of Passing, No Significant Mutations (0+ / 0-)

    WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said it was unlikely the agency would raise the alert level in the immediate future.

    "We haven't seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human," Cheng told The Associated Press.

    She said WHO had considered convening a meeting of experts to debate whether to raise the alert level, but had decided that the current situation did not merit that step.

    "We had discussed that," she said. "But that is not going to happen."

    The agency has suspected that in rare cases bird flu may have passed from one person to another, but it usually has been caught by people from chickens and other poultry.

    WHO said that testing indicated there had been no significant mutations in the virus.

    •  have you understood that H2H has occurred? (0+ / 0-)

      have you copied and pasted enough material showing this yet?

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 02:29:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No change in the virus (0+ / 0-)

    Robert Webster, a virologist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: "Everyone is looking to see if the virus has changed. The indications at the moment are no."

    •  that is correct, and good news as I have (0+ / 0-)
      repeatedly said. but that's today. The concern is about tomorrow and the next day.

      Robert Webster, the fellow you quote, also said:
       

      Meanwhile, virologist and influenza expert Robert G. Webster, attending an avian flu conference in Singapore, told the Associated Press (AP), "I've worked with flu all my life, and this [H5N1] is the worst influenza virus that I have ever seen."

      Webster, who works at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, said that in poultry, the virus invades the brain and destroys the respiratory tract, the AP reported. Concerning the threat of a human pandemic triggered by H5N1, he said, "If that happens, God help us."

      According to the story, he predicted it would take at least 10 more mutations to give the virus the ability to spread from person to person. He added there was no way to know when or if that will happen.

      "All of those mutations are out there . . . but the virus hasn't succeeded in bringing it together," Webster was quoted as saying.

      He also said far more needs to be done to prepare for a pandemic and to understand the virus's behavior. Calling for stockpiling of more H5N1 vaccine, he labeled current efforts "miserable," according to the story.

      It's clear you don't have familiarity with the material you are cutting and pasting. Webster completely agrees with spirit of this diary and believes in stockpiling.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 02:35:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gilead, Generex, BioCryst are UP!!! (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    Gilead Sciences Inc., Generex Biotechnology Corp. and BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. were among biopharmaceutical companies that gained after the World Health Organization said seven Indonesians may have contracted bird flu from humans.

    WHO officials don't have immediate plans to raise the alert level for a possible avian influenza pandemic because the health agency lacks evidence that bird flu is becoming more contagious among people, spokeswoman Maria Cheng said.

    Gilead added $1.73 to $55.50. Generex jumped 19 cents to $2.03. BioCryst surged $1.15 to $12.95.

  •  WHO Statements Omitted by DemFromCT? (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said it was unlikely the agency would raise the alert level in the immediate future.

    "We haven't seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human," Cheng told The Associated Press.

    She said WHO had considered convening a meeting of experts to debate whether to raise the alert level, but had decided that the current situation did not merit that step.

    "We had discussed that," she said. "But that is not going to happen."

    The agency has suspected that in rare cases bird flu may have passed from one person to another, but it usually has been caught by people from chickens and other poultry.

    WHO said that testing indicated there had been no significant mutations in the virus.

    •  actually i didn't omit that - from my post: (0+ / 0-)

      This likely won't change the stage of pandemic alert from 3 to 4; casual contact has not been demonstrated, major mutations have not been documented and changing the pandemic alert level has economic implications for U.N. member countries (border closings and restrictions, e.g.). The cluster has sparked WHO containment efforts, however, even without raising the pandemic level.

      "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 Thu May 25, 2006 at 02:28:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  DemFromCT vs Cheng from the WHO (0+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        Hidden by:
        DemFromCT

        What you wrote and what Cheng said are not the same at all.

        *"We haven't seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human," Cheng told The Associated Press.*

        Cheng
        WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said it was unlikely the agency would raise the alert level in the immediate future.

        "We haven't seen evidence from Indonesia that the disease is passing easily from human to human," Cheng told The Associated Press.

        She said WHO had considered convening a meeting of experts to debate whether to raise the alert level, but had decided that the current situation did not merit that step.

        "We had discussed that," she said. "But that is not going to happen."

        The agency has suspected that in rare cases bird flu may have passed from one person to another, but it usually has been caught by people from chickens and other poultry.

        WHO said that testing indicated there had been no significant mutations in the virus.

        DemFromCT
        This likely won't change the stage of pandemic alert from 3 to 4; casual contact has not been demonstrated, major mutations have not been documented and changing the pandemic alert level has economic implications for U.N. member countries (border closings and restrictions, e.g.). The cluster has sparked WHO containment efforts, however, even without raising the pandemic level.

  •  other risks (0+ / 0-)
    • I read, some time ago, of H5N1 showing up in pigs, in China. The gov't there was blocking coverage.

    If true, that's a significant concern, and significantly underreported.

  •  Could Mutate: Yawn! (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    Just as Hussein's WMD were a threat to be dealt with so is Avian flu to be dealt with Rumsfeld's Tamilflu

    Renowned Bird Flu Expert Warns: Be Prepared

    There Are "About Even Odds" That the Virus Could Mutate to an Easily Transmitted Form, He Tells 'World News Tonight'

    There are "about even odds at this time for the virus to learn how to transmit human to human," [Webster] told ABC's "World News Tonight."

    [snip]

    Researcher Dr. Anne Moscona at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center said that a human form may not mutate this year or next — or ever — but it would be foolish to ignore the dire consequences if it did.

    [snip]
    No one knows how long or how many mutation changes it would take for bird flu to become a direct threat to humans.

    "It may not do it. There may just be too many changes. The virus may not be able to be a human virus," Moscona said.

  •  Webster: If!!! (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    "I've worked with flu all my life, and this is the worst influenza virus that I have ever seen," said Webster, who has studied avian flu for decades. *"If that happens in humans, God help us."*

    So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus will mutate into a form that easily spreads from person to person, potentially sparking a global pandemic.

    Webster predicted it would take at least 10 more mutations before the H5N1 virus could potentially begin spreading from human to human, but said there's no way to know when — or if — that will ever happen.

    "All of those mutations are out there, but ... the virus hasn't succeeded in bringing it together," he said at the end of a two-day bird flu conference in Singapore organized by The Lancet medical journal.

  •  Steven Bjorge, a WHO epidemiologist (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    “Even though so many people were tragically affected in this cases, it hasn’t really changed the picture of avian influenza in Indonesia at this time,” Bjorge said.

    [snip]

    WHO said it will leave its pandemic alert level unchanged at 3, where it has been for months, meaning there is “no or very limited human-to-human transmission.”

  •  WHO Damps Fears Over Bird Flu (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    Health officials played down concerns that a large cluster of human bird-flu cases in Indonesia might indicate that the virus has mutated into a more dangerous form.

    Officials of the World Health Organization, together with local authorities, have been monitoring a village in Karo district in northern Sumatra where eight members of an extended family fell ill after a recent gathering. Six of them died. Yesterday, the WHO said there is no reason to believe that the outbreak has moved beyond the family itself.

  •  Steven Bjorge, not a real threat (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    DemFromCT

    Indonesians Love Chicken, Bird Flu Scare or Not
    [snip]

    "People here are coming to realize that most of us are not at great risk of getting the virus," said Steven Bjorge of the World Health Organization's office in Jakarta. "People are figuring out that on a day-to-day basis, this is not a real threat."

    Indonesians have already surmised what researchers demonstrated in findings published last month: It's awfully tough to catch bird flu. Two teams of scientists found that the virus has trouble attaching to human cells in the nose, throat and upper airway, making infection unlikely.

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