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Not much of a date movie. As we left the theater the military guys behind us were talking about where to get hand sanitizer.  

Okay okay there's more to life than trying to unwind from the work week. I wanted to see Contagion partly because it has Gwenyth Paltrow in it, and I now realize that she and the other stars (Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburn, Kate Winslet, Sanjay Gupta) probably got signed on for the express purpose of luring their fans into the theater. It worked in my case. The movie was also recommended by a colleague who teaches public health nursing here at the University.

As for the details fo the movie....... I have been a Registered Nurse since 1977 and I have a few opinions about the importance of Public Health epidemiology.....


Public health, the part that deals with epidemics, is heroic in it's own quiet way, but not "sexy." There is no glamor to be found, no countdown to a victory celebration at the end.  Every schoolchild grows up hearing about polio, small pox, plague ("the Black Death"), Spanish Flu, Malaria, yellow fever and the like, but western  society has insulated all of us from close contact with infectious diseases, and I greatly prefer to deal with illnesses that can be packaged and treated within the confines of a hospital building. I feel secure that way. We all do. Let's keep the wild viruses in a zoo as if they were lions and tigers.....

A Throwback to the Dark Ages

For those of us in health care, there is a certain medieval quality to the idea that these things are out there and can kill you, that they have literally been a plague since the dawn of time. And that humanity is also a "herd" governed by the same rules that apply to the cattle business.  Just because these diseases are old-fashioned does not mean they have gone out of style, and we get these jarring reminders now and again.  And these threats have  not gone away just because we now have pennicillin and DNA sequencing.  

Allow me to reminisce in an unsentimental way. Over my whole career, taken in it's entirety, I have been in the presence of just about everything. AIDS was not named until 1981 or so, but I know that I took care of Intravenous narcotic abusers with broken-down immune systems at Boston City Hospital in 1977 in my very first RN job. ("Heroin does funny things to the immune system" we used to say in those days)  At UCSF the neuro-ICU  was the site of inpatient care for a study they were doing on infectious encephalitis while I was there. I remember calling for one particular specialist consult, then meeting UCSF's  Fellow in Infectious Diseases (I.D.). It was a small department in those days, with a shining history dating back to the days of Pasteur.  The I.D. Fellow wore horn-rimmed glasses and was a bit tweedy. "Don't run away. I may need you,the first rule is not to panic." he said. This will be interesting, I thought. I.D. has always been a specialty for thoughtful nerdy doctors, with a sort of Clark Kent quality, and an air of the Mad Scientist about them.   Whenever a doctor prefaces his remarks by saying "don't run away,' I have learned that something really really interesting is about to happen.  

While at UCSF,  the half-dozen or so Q fever victims of the now-infamous Q fever mini-epidemic were admitted to Neuro-ICU, my workplace. ( Infamous because it later became a poster child for the impetus to revise federal rules on use of laboratory animals in academic medical centers).

While President of ANA-Maine, part of the American Nurses Association (ANA), I was editor of their statewide quarterly newspaper mailed to every RN in Maine. In that role I got to know people  from the public health infrastructure of Maine, and gained a new respect for the great care taken in efforts  to present accurate public health info.  Do you remember the anthrax threat after 9-11? Or that national debate about smallpox vaccination? I sure do. I remember coming back from an ANA national meeting in  DC with a box of the first smallpox brochures, hot off the press, wondering how to best share the info with people in my home state.  Maine State Public Health also sponsored an annual workshop on public health, a must-go-to event, and one year  the featured speakers were the  leaders of the Toronto SARS response.  All the key players in Maine  got a jaw-dropping inside look at the true story behind that the response to that event. Health workers died in Toronto. The speakers conveyed the gravity of the "oh shit" moments, times when  the Toronto Public Health authorities realized it was getting away from them.

(First rule of public health - don't alarm the public.)  

And of course, Nepal. Read my book. :-)

Somewhere previous, I described the single most gut-wrenching inadvertent exposure I ever was involved in, and it took place in Tansen Nepalin 2008. (I survived to tell the tale, just the smell of peach soap is enough to remind me of that day). Nepal remains a  simmering stewpot  of infectious diseases I hope we never see here in the USA - kala-azar, leprosy, tetanus, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, TB, brucellosis, hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis. A long list - what I am I forgetting????

Oh - add cholera, typhoid, plain ol' infectious diarrhea, helminths of all types, snakebites,  HIV,  pneumonia and meningitis......  If you haven't figured it out by now, the problems they have in any Low Income Country do impact us - infectious diseases do not respect borders.

Worms and snakes do belong on that list.

I am happy to report that I have never caught anything major during that whole thirty two years. Oh, I got rotavirus ("cruise ship virus") one time at a hospital, along with a dozen others, but I take comfort in the fact that I was the one who said "hey, something fishy here that we are all getting sick." So, some good came of it.

The secret? I always wash my hands, always. That is still the number one rule at work. On the home front,  I never got a tattoo, visited Haiti, drank unpasteurized milk, or had skanky sex. (TMI perhaps, but true).  

Back to the movie. The challenge for the moviemakers was to dramatize and personalize something that unfolds over time and which requires a bureaucratic response with hundreds of players. Also, quite frankly, to compete with fictional action-adventure movies. In a fictional outbreak, the disease can be exaggerated so that the audience is gripped by  an immediate horror, satisfying the thrillseeking entertainment value of the genre, and allowing the pace to be  faster. In real life, we are programmed so that an illness of this nature causes disgust and revulsion, not quite the kind of "thrill" that pulls people in to a movie theater.  There is a slow-motion aspect caused by the incubation period, a seeming randomness to the victims that is maddening to uncover, and an element of quiet suffering, as the victims go down, one by one, laying quietly in a heap for awhile before they pass away.

These scenes were accurately depicted in Contagion. Whenever I see a movie in which a person dies, it's ruined unless the details are plausible and realistic to the T.

(The autopsy scene was truthful but I prefer to remember Gwenyth as Viola De Lesseps, flowery incandescent youthful glory of her Oscar-winning role.....isn't that how we all prefer to remember our loved ones?)

To convey the drama of a worldwide pandemic, the movie was forced  to include various committee meetings where the protagonists were educating elected officials or each other, a sneaky way to clue in the audience  as to the relevant science. They tried to keep the lectures short, but it still had the feel of being lectured or taught about the action.  The geography also played a role - switching from rural China to Atlanta, Minnesota, and San Francisco (and yes, I recognized all the San Francisco scenes since most were in the neighborhood of UCSF where I used to live,  Parnassus Heights and on the UCSF campus. My alma mater).

Anyway, I think the movie did the best possible job to depict  the phenomenon, given these constraints. At times it had the feel of a documentary, since there was an obvious educational component to it (here is what the Red Cross does, here is the National Guard. A very poignant moment in which a Roman Catholic nun appears. Go get 'em, Sister!)  and of course, when we finally get the next pandemic I wonder if any body will be left around to tell the tale in a similar way.  For those persons who have not been involved in this line of work, I can tell you  it does mirror real life, people making decisions based on incomplete knowledge.  

In summary - worth seeing, a thought-provoking effort to educate the general public about a little-known part of the medical establishment.

Originally posted to guavaboy on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 02:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I was really impressed (23+ / 0-)

    that the science was so good. I have read a lot about--and from--the scientists who participated, and they were very serious about getting it right.

    I did notice no one else was eating popcorn during the autopsy like I was.

    Bad news on Q fever though--raw milkies are getting it.

    Doubt is cheap. Finding out is hard. --@Daniel_Loxton

    by mem from somerville on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 03:42:22 PM PDT

  •  I'm waiting for cable release, but I read (12+ / 0-)

    that CDC scientists gave it a big thumbs up, except: a) something so deadly wouldn't be as contagious (for long anyway), b) no scientist would try a vaccine on themselves, and c) a vaccine wouldn't be ready that quickly.

    Everything else is too true.

    Thanks.

    “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

    by the fan man on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 04:45:34 PM PDT

    •  I agree with those three points, mostly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the fan man, BYw

      a) is true because if the incubation period (got the disease but not showing symptoms) is short, the host dies before transmission takes place. one of the main reaosn Marburg virus outbreaks are limited.

      b) nowadays true, but as cited in the film, the Australian doc who discovered helicobacter pylorii, demonstrated the cause and cure of stomach ulcers on himself. If you back in history, the early heros of Tropical Diseases, such as Walter Reed, did do experiments on themselves.

      c) you got that one right - the lead-in for a vaccine can be decades, strching into infinity. Look at the search for an HIV vaccine. promising leads, no end in sight.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:19:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't quote me, I got that via NPR from CDC. The (0+ / 0-)

        disease in the film was based on something that exists, but found a new pathway to infect a new host. CDC scientists said "No researcher is going to be a guinea pig for a vaccine".

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 04:52:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I spent last week at a public/community (7+ / 0-)

    health conference and got quite a glimpse of the quiet work that is often heroism.  It is certainly revolutionary in the political sense.

    Thanks for the review.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 05:08:23 PM PDT

  •  I will not be seeing it (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, DaleA, sillia, Nulwee, mommyof3

    thank you very much. Would you care to discuss what seems to me strep being everywhere? My daughter had strep literally all of her first grade year. Every frickin' kid in Dallas has it seems. We've been to infectious disease in Dallas and Fort Worth, but they just keep saying more antibiotics.

    As a side note, I'm in my mid 40's and had mono last year. Go figure!

    No Jesus, Know Peace

    by plok on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 09:10:06 PM PDT

    •  Kids are a vector for everything (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mommyof3

      when a cancer victim is immunocompromised, one of the first things is to separate them from visits by schoolkids.

      I am not an expert on strep. was it truly confirmed by the new spot test they have? sometimes people call a throat infection strep, when it is not. I defer to the physicians you consulted.....

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:22:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Nulwee

    I never get sick. I haven't been sick in years. But now, I have health insurance. (Yay!) And for the first time in recent memory, I have vacation days. 5 whole vacation days and I've been counting down for weeks.

    I got a flu shot on Friday before my planned vacation that started Saturday.

    I was fine on Saturday and Sunday, but by Monday, I started to get sick. By Monday evening, I was flat on my back (in my vacation hotel) and didn't get back up until Friday, thank goodness, in time to make my flight home. I'm still sick, but I hope to be well enough to go to work on Monday. They don't pay sick days after vacations. You understand.

    What happened? Did my flu shot = a shot of flu? Did the shot open the door to a horrible rhino virus (cold)? Or was it a weird coincidence and horrible bad luck?

    At this point, I'm thinking I'll never get a flu shot again.

    Sometimes there is so much writing, you need a bigger wall.

    by pucklady on Sat Oct 08, 2011 at 09:29:07 PM PDT

    •  Coincidence (7+ / 0-)
      Or was it a weird coincidence and horrible bad luck?
      That.

      Injectable influenza vaccine contains no live virus of any kind. It is completely impossible for it to give anyone the flu, or a cold, or any other infectious disease. Absolutely can't happen. Not even as a 1-in-10 zillion rare side effect.

      Millions of people get flu shots each year. By random bad luck, a certain number of them get sick with something-or-other shortly thereafter.

      Now, FluMist (the nasal spray vaccine) is based on a live virus, and can occasionally cause a cold-like illness. Rather rarely, and almost always mild, still, I have to wonder why anyone who is really needle-phobic would bother with it.

      •  Isn't really needle-phobic, I meant (n/t) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mem from somerville, BYw
      •  Also, if you read the fine print ... (5+ / 0-)

        it takes about 2 weeks to achieve maximum immunity. A lot of vaccine= flu complaints are based on a little case of the sniffles or a 1-day GI upset, but pucklady was down for the count 4-5 days. Depending on exact symptoms, flu is at least a possible culprit.

        But even if it is flu, it's due to being exposed within a couple days after getting the shot. As you already noted, killed virus is killed.

        I seem to end up with a cold or sinus infection every time I fly, but I am not familiar with empirical evidence regarding in-flight spread of respiratory illness. The recycled air is HEPA-filtered. Any time you cram people together like sardines, though ... .

        Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

        by susanala on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 05:49:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  So you are on vacation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DMiller, ebohlman, mommyof3

      which means you may have been in airports and airplanes, and/or other modes of public places. Including a hotel. With lots of people from far and varied places.

      And the flu shot is your conclusion?

      Yeah. Certainly not sick co-travelers. Out of the question.

      I actually get vaccinated because of airports. I got re-vaxxed for MMR and DTap last summer because I was going to be in Heathrow 4 times.

      Doubt is cheap. Finding out is hard. --@Daniel_Loxton

      by mem from somerville on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 07:45:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I thought this diary would be about Europe's debt (4+ / 0-)
    •  you refer to a great tradition in literature (0+ / 0-)

      Plague is plague. the facts of the disease are one thing and the response of the general public is quite another - as the saying goes, the second casualty of war is public health ( the first casualty is - truth).

      the well-known book by Albert Camus The Plague, is nominally about a doctor who survives a year in quarantine due to an epidemic; it is thought to be a grand allegory to the existence of Nazism and the way that people in Europe reacted to it. Better pundits than I have explored this theme in Camus' work.

      I think most DailyKos readers will agree with me that our current plague is neo-fascism on the part of the GOP and the Tea Party. Many of the US population are infected and the rest of us need courage to combat this sickness.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:28:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  OTOH, Chemical & Engineering News (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee

    hated it . . . go figure.

  •  Another important area (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, maybeeso in michigan

    is tick-borne diseases. You asked what you were forgetting? They probably aren't contagious person-to-person so much, but you could get them through the blood supply as well as insect bites. Borrelia (lyme) and many others occur world-wide and are on the increase.

    Currently hard to diagnose, symptoms often latent, symptoms often vague and overlapping with many other diseases and conditions, medical authorities currently in denial about this. Like they used to say about Multiple Sclerosis before it was defined as a disease, it's psychosomatic...... although people do get better with antibiotics (I diaried about my brain symptoms with lyme).

    Undiagnosed tick-borne disease (such as lyme or other infectious agents) may turn out to be at the root of several currently hard to understand conditions such as fibromyalgia. It may play a role in Alzheimers, Parkinson's, MS, ALS and more.

    Better disease detection technology will help a lot to focus in on who's got what bug. This is coming in a few years!

    Loved your diary, looking forward to seeing the movie, thanks.

    ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

    by sillia on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 08:23:50 AM PDT

    •  tick-borne and vectors (0+ / 0-)

      that list was specific to Nepal; we certainly had vector-borne diseases, such as Visceral Leishmaniasis, also known as Kala-Azar. In that illness, the life cycle includes dogs and sand fleas that live in the walls of wattle-and-daub huts.

      The study of infectious disease, exspecially in the tropics, has a long history of Byzantine-like science, fascinating to learn about if you like bizarre stuff. Tke the life cycle of the intestinal worm. Lives in - the intestine - hardly a surprise. But under certain circumstances, you can get a worm in your brain (onchocerchiasis) or a hydatid cyst. both of which are extremely unpleasant.

      My least favorite would Guinea Worm, never have personally seen it, only videos.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:33:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nulwee, Bernie68

    as fukushima is showing us, if something does hit, dont wait for the govt to tell you, they wont.

    Fukushima is an ongoing nuclear nightmare and the govt's would rather cover it up then tell the truth. It shows us, govt are much more worried about control then truth.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 08:39:49 AM PDT

    •  truth versus panic (0+ / 0-)

      I am all for truth telling, but the decision to tell the truth, when it will cause panic, is not ever to be taken lightly. great care must be taken to control rumors and present only accurate information. to do other wise is irresponsible. Over recorded history, it is clear that rumors do more damage than truth does. we all want instant gratification, to supply it by immediate truth telling is not always possible.

      And I say this as one who has learned not to trust the government, esp when the Republicans are in office.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:38:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Got Rotavirus At A Sushi Restaurant (0+ / 0-)

    I ordered the teriyaki chicken just to be safe and wham.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 09:59:13 AM PDT

    •  rotavirus is persistent (0+ / 0-)

      it can live for awhile. In the small outbreak we had, what stopped it was when every flat surface was cleaned with strong bleach. I don't believe i cuaght it form one of the pateints, I do think it was spread by something like using a pen that had been put down on a surface that was inadequately cleaned that normally would have been. In hospitals, I have worked with many nurses who routinely start their shift by using alcohol to disinfect the writing surface of the nurses station. I like to work with those persons.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 01:41:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great authentic, authoritative, and clear. Mahalo (0+ / 0-)

    Can't be shouted from the rooftops loud enough.  I am a long time Hawaii resident who lived in Honolulu when through the (CIA or suchlike entities) test of contagious bacteria where they actual put "benign"microorganisms in the public environment to "test" how long it would take for a contagious disease to spread.

    The rational for doing it in Honolulu was that they could count the organisms in the sewer outfall off of Waikiki and count how quickly it spread.  I worked for the Sea Grant program soon after and was astounded to read that they had the audacity to do what they did.

    Oh, it didn't take very long at all before all sectors of the island were contaminated.  EASY.

  •  I was impressed from my limited knowledge, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher

    but so was the physician I sing with who is the infectious disease coordinator for our local regional hospital.

    I like the fact that they did not try to sensationalize it into "the end of the world", but made it about as bad as the Spanish flu -- which killed millions of people wordwide, less than 100 years ago, and which we have collectively almost entirely forgotten about.

    Excellent movie, and food for thought as we reduce Federal budgets right and left -- can we really afford to cut back on Public Health?

    Mark E. Miller // Kalamazoo Township Trustee // MI 6th District Democratic Chair

    by memiller on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 11:54:37 AM PDT

  •  I saw the movie. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SteelerGrrl

    I was impressed also. But I noted the total absence of anyone washing their hands -- not once in the whole movie.

    To guavaboy -- thanks for a thoughtful post.

    •  good point about a missing piece (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bernie68

      As a person who comes into contact with these things, on a professional basis, I am always careful to wash my hands. Yep, the docs in the movie didn't wash their hands - but if it had shown more nurses, they would have been doing it....

      to be a hundred per cent accurate, it should have shown one of the health workers coming into contact and then running to the sink to wash their hands compulsively  up to the elbow, while they prayed (either the Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm, but Matthew 14:30 will do, quite nicely) OUT LOUD while interjecting  "Oh Shit!" simultaneously....

      that's what I have done just about every time in my career I when I realized I had inadvertently broken technique. Except for the time I did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on somebody, back in about 1984 or so. At that moment, I gargled with about a half-bottle of Lavoris......

      As in my Meningococcus story referenced in the diary....

      :-)

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 02:48:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Back in 1984 or so .... (0+ / 0-)

        is when a lot of 'technique' started IIRC.  (Not all protocols started then but some) They were still fighting then about if the A.I.D.S virus was found in blood.
        The Red Cross fought that tooth & nail.  (what does tooth & nail even mean ??  The expression just came out of my memory.)

        Remember they did NOT want to test every unit?  And dentists did not wear eye shields and neither did O.R people.  Infection control has improved a lot since then but dammit hand washing is still the first line of defense.  

        •  got me head-scratching (0+ / 0-)

          so I needed to go look up IIRC - at first I thought it was a sub-group of W.H.O. - but - "If I Recall Correctly" - pretty funny. Yes, I think that is the timeline when the last doubters had to recognize that AIDS was no joke and it was headed our way. all the practices changed.

          for the better.

          "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

          by guavaboy on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 01:09:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Dont ever use those hand sanitizers. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    scarolinamom

    They are in the same category as preemptive anitbiotics in cattle.

    When it says it kills 99.9% of something, that means it has created an area where the strongest have survived, and are now immune to that method of attack, and have no competition.

    Wash your hands, yes. Thats fine and good. But those sanitizers are a disaster waiting to happen. Mark my words. The ordinary person, in a non-medical job, should never use the damned things.

    We do not have a lot of weapons in this fight, and so they all must be used with extreme caution. Honestly if it were up to me, these 'sanitizing' gels would be illegal outside of medical use by trained professionals.

    For a similar reason, I denounce flu vaccines for healthy adults. Children, elderly, compromised immune system, those people are of course benefitted by the flu vaccines. Without question...But if youre a healthy adult, letting your immune system handle it directly is your best bet to reducing future symptoms.

    I reccomend this only because if the disease starts to get otu of hand, you can still go to a doctor for help. It is of primary concern to me that we deal with microorganisms correctly, because a day will come when the word "Plague" will be able to apply to something that was ongoing. That day is not today. But it might be tomorrow. Or it might be a thousand years from now.

    I prefer working toward the latter.

    You wouldn't really know how long it's been, since you weren't here. If you'd been here, it would've been no time at all. Forever and nothing are almost the same thing, wouldn't you say? How do you tell one from another if you're smack in the middle?

    by kamrom on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 03:22:33 PM PDT

    •  thank you. I agree. (0+ / 0-)

      since this is off the cuff, I feel okay with not citing everything I say, but I tend to think that you are correct, here. I think there is sound science behind what you are saying......

      I don't get the flu shot myself, and have never gotten the flu. Maybe someday when i am old.... I am only fiftyseven years old right now.... say - eightyfive?

      to use sanitizer is better than using nothing, but is not the equivalent of hand hygiene, IMHO.

      I tell my students I would rather see them actually wash their hands, with soap, friction and lots of running water, than use the hand sanitizer - I have had this idea that the sanitizer just smears the stuff around.

      If they got enough exposure to get an organism on their hands, they also have some of the host body fluid as well -

      eeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww

      let's remove that, not simply mix it with something else and leave it there.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 03:37:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      guavaboy
      Dont ever use those hand sanitizers. (1+ / 0-)
      They are in the same category as preemptive anitbiotics in cattle.

      When it says it kills 99.9% of something, that means it has created an area where the strongest have survived, and are now immune to that method of attack, and have no competition.


      That's not accurate.  It depends on what the sanitizer uses as it's active ingredient.  If it uses alcohol (many sanitizers do), then there's extremely low risk of causing resistance since no mechanism for alcohol resistance is known.   It would be similar to use bleach to sanitize surfaces. In any case, bacteria resistant to alcohol, most almost certainly would not be resistant to antibiotics.


      or a similar reason, I denounce flu vaccines for healthy adults. Children, elderly, compromised immune system, those people are of course benefitted by the flu vaccines. Without question...But if youre a healthy adult, letting your immune system handle it directly is your best bet to reducing future symptoms.

      What?  This doesn't make any sense.  Vaccines just prime your immune system to recognize and react to certain features on viruses or bacteria.  Do you also advocate people skip vaccines like the hep a/b, mmr, dpt, or polio vaccines?  The same logic you apply to the flu vaccine applies to those as well.  I wouldn't suggest healthy adults skip the flu vaccine unless there is a shortage and more vulnerable populations need them more.

  •  I have to be honest... (0+ / 0-)

    ...I'm actually okay with a third or half the world population wiped out in a global pandemic.  And I say that as someone who fully expects to be one of the people who WOULD die (I would never condemn anyone to a fate I'm not willing to endure myself).  It would suck, but it would provide a tremendous short term relief to the ecology of this planet.

    Any more than half the population would be too much though.  There are far too many systems and institutions that are dependant on human intervention to sustain the environment or to prevent catastrophic pollution to the environment.

    Let there be balance in all things.

    by DawnG on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 04:12:29 PM PDT

    •  We're all going to die, but it's a little callous (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnG, guavaboy

      to pick out 30% of the globe for a very immediate guillotine.

      We are a destructive and devastating species, and we need to fix our wasteful lifestyle sooner than yesterday; but the planet will survive us. Even major radioactive accidents cannot be overcome by Earth. It might take 20,000 years...but 20,000 years is a fraction of a second if you're talking about the lifespan of the planet. Even if our species were to last another 50,000 years, it would be the blink of an eye for the planet. And one supervolcano eruption would, in terms of devastation, dwarf anything we've done thus far.

      So maybe let us puny humans live out our puny lives in peace.

      •  Nature is nothing if not... (0+ / 0-)

        ...unfair.  The planet will survive us but I would prefer we survive long enough to advance beyond our planet (if that's even possible).  

        And that's not going ot happen as things are going.  We need a great correction, and I would prefer that correction not involve famine, pestilence, chaos and the fall of civilization as we know it.

        I don't know how it would happen, I reallyd on't care.  I just want to bring back the balance.

        Let there be balance in all things.

        by DawnG on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 06:44:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  wishing that any body was gone? (0+ / 0-)

          No man is an island,
          Entire of itself.
          Each is a piece of the continent,
          A part of the main.
          If a clod be washed away by the sea,
          Europe is the less.
          As well as if a promontory were.
          As well as if a manor of thine own
          Or of thine friend's were.
          Each man's death diminishes me,
          For I am involved in mankind.
          Therefore, send not to know
          For whom the bell tolls,
          It tolls for thee.

          source; http://www.poetry-online.org/...

          "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

          by guavaboy on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 10:11:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We have 7 billion people... (0+ / 0-)

            ...in the world, and it has not made us greater.

            I am a big fan of that poem, and I appreciate what a pandemic would cost the species, but it will cost us much much more to be left to grow unchecked.

            Let there be balance in all things.

            by DawnG on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 01:50:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's fascinating and disturbing to read about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    guavaboy

    the issues of who takes care of patients in the event of a deadly outbreak. Can nurses and doctors be expected or required to risk their lives in the event of an epidemic? What rights and what responsibilities do healthcare workers have in the event of an epidemic?

    Relevant: http://msf.ca/...

    An extremely fascinating blog detailing the life of an MSF worker during an ebola outbreak.

    •  health workers in zimbabwe did desert their posts (0+ / 0-)

      during a recent cholera outbreak there, widely reported in international media.

      now, cholera is endemic in many places ( Nepal being among them), but usually under control as long as the toilet is being used.

      it is characterized by uncontrollable diarrhea, and if it is not under control you get a residue of fecal material on every surface - this is a challenge to health workers.

      the urge to flee is probably always there, it's a survival response.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 10:14:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i looked at it. (0+ / 0-)

      it is very matter-of-fact in terms of activities.

      I am considering whether to compose an anootated list of such accounts.

      Often, the person at the center of it is focused on doing and not so much on writing.

      "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

      by guavaboy on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 12:06:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My view as a Biochemist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, guavaboy

    what virus? Which strain? We usually have it sequenced within a week. WHAT GENES? Is is something new and unknown? Are there any common weaknesses in the genetic code to indicate that one of our existing drugs will be useful or are we going to have to take a chemotherapy approach where we try to poison you within an inch of your life but kill the virus/bug/parasite in the process. Can we learn anything new from this?

    Personally, thus far, I have hated every single popular media fictionalization of disease epidemics. That one with Dustin Hoffmann (an actor I greatly admire) right about the same time as the anthrax attacks was worthy of an ignobel award from the Journal of iRreproducible results. (I changed the Journal title slightly in honour of Steve Jobs).

    I do not plan to watch this fictional account either. It may be more accurate on some counts (like how first responders react to these things) but I doubt any movie will be accurate as to how scientists look at these things since it's painstaking and boring to anyone who does not understand it. At the same time it is endlessly fascinating to we who think in terms of genes, gene products and biochemical networks.

    I do not pretend to be the primary story here, the clinical response is the main story IMO. Human suffering and loss is always the story that resonates with the audience. However in these fictional accounts.....I can't help but get annoyed with the storyline. When stuff like this happens in real life, that same real life story line is what motivates scientists like me. We know this can get ugly, fast. We work to understand things to prevent horror, and improve future defences.

    I enjoyed your take from the front lines. I am one of the behind the scenes folks in the scientific community who also works to help solve these problems, slowly, methodically and persistently. Biological battles are complex and never finished until something goes extinct.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 07:00:02 PM PDT

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, guavaboy

      I talked with a woman whose lab designed the movie virus. They did it right. And I'm really harsh on that stuff too.

      One of the criticisms I heard from a non-scientist was that it wasn't dramatic enough--so you might be surprised at the way it was done.

      At least rent it when it comes out.

      Doubt is cheap. Finding out is hard. --@Daniel_Loxton

      by mem from somerville on Sun Oct 09, 2011 at 07:15:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  real life is not like the movies, all the time (0+ / 0-)

        There is a trend toward instant gratification, and this criticism does not surprise me - I heard the exact same thing about my book - "lacking the Shakespearean arc of drama" - go figure.

        to tell a story with the ring of truth, as these folks did - shoudl not be measured against Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise -

        "I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she (Christina Taylor-Greene) imagined it." President Obama

        by guavaboy on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 11:29:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a molecular virologist... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, guavaboy

      There were amazingly few scientific howlers.  They even got the genome size and number of genes right for a paramyxovirus (which this beast was), the fact that viruses of different strains can pick up genes from each other, high mutation rate of an RNA virus, just about everything.  They avoided the Doomsday Plague Syndrome, making the virus have a realistic fatality rate for an emergent, pandemic virus.  They even made a big deal of figuring out what cell surface marker the virus uses for cell entry (though Real World X-Ray crystalographers only WISH they could solve a structure that fast...)

  •  This was a very enjoyable and informative diary. I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    guavaboy

    remember that a coworker of mine went to Nepal on business. When she got back she had to burn her clothing. My impression was that she had fleas, but I don't really know.

    We are so lucky here, even without single-payer -- but we really really do need single-payer.

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