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Swine flu deaths spur global epidemic fears

Public Health Swine Flu 2009

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#21 Omega

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:20 AM

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 01:20 PM, said:

Most of you probably don't remember the Swine Flu "epidemic" of the 70s. I think the vaccine killed more people.

I don't so much fear an epidemic as I do a government whipping up panic in the citizenry.

I mean, after the Bird Flu got us all, . . . or at least the ones that weren't dead already from the SARS that got us all . . .

Don't forget West Nile.  I'm still dead from that one.

Seriously, though, we need to be aware of all possible threats.  There's a line between "warning" and "fear-mongering", and both should evoke about the same response, just in different directions.  Medically, this thing does have the potential to scare me, but I'll wait to find out more before deciding to get worried.

#22 BklnScott

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:41 AM

View PostGhost Rider, on Apr 27 2009, 10:05 AM, said:

Walking to work this morning, I heard New York City Mayor Michael Bloomburg on NPR telling those who are feeling sick to stay home.

:rolleyes:

For struggling folks, that really isn't an option, and there's a LOT of them out there. :( And some jobs don't have sick leave.

It's either pay your bills, or get kicked out into the street/get your utilities cut/whatever.

:(

I heard that, too.  Whatever.  We all take the subway, for God's sake.  

View PostOmega, on Apr 27 2009, 10:20 AM, said:

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 01:20 PM, said:

Most of you probably don't remember the Swine Flu "epidemic" of the 70s. I think the vaccine killed more people.

I don't so much fear an epidemic as I do a government whipping up panic in the citizenry.

I mean, after the Bird Flu got us all, . . . or at least the ones that weren't dead already from the SARS that got us all . . .

Don't forget West Nile.  I'm still dead from that one.

West Nile turned out to be less severe than it could have been, or might be in future outbreaks, but to snicker at the SARS outbreak is pretty f'n crass.  SARS:

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There has been one near pandemic to date, between November 2002 and July 2003, with 8,096 known infected cases and 774 deaths (a case-fatality rate of 9.6%) worldwide being listed in the World Health Organization's (WHO) 21 April 2004 concluding report.[2] Within a matter of weeks in early 2003, SARS spread from the Guangdong province of China to rapidly infect individuals in some 37 countries around the world[3]

Maybe I take these things seriously because I work in the pharma industry, or maybe I take it seriously because an entire generation of my peers was wiped out by a viral plague just a few years ago.  I dunno.  

Hopefully, this flu outbreak will just fade away, as most do, but -- again -- the potential for it to get very, very bad *does* exist.  Anyone who pretends it doesn't is just fooling themselves.  (Certianly, no one has to tell China, Hong Kong, and the rest of Asia--so hard hit by SARS--to take this potential pandemic seriously.)

Edited by BklnScott, 27 April 2009 - 09:42 AM.

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#23 Nick

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:52 AM

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 10:41 AM, said:

Maybe I take these things seriously because I work in the pharma industry, or maybe I take it seriously because an entire generation of my peers was wiped out by a viral plague just a few years ago.  I dunno.

Am I missing something?  Not to be dismissive of the death toll by SARS, but 8,000 known infections and 800 fatalities isn't "an entire generation."

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Hopefully, this flu outbreak will just fade away, as most do, but -- again -- the potential for it to get very, very bad *does* exist.  Anyone who pretends it doesn't is just fooling themselves.  (Certianly, no one has to tell China, Hong Kong, and the rest of Asia--so hard hit by SARS--to take this potential pandemic seriously.)

Right now I dont' think there's been any overreaction outside of the news outlets.  They're monitoring the situation closely and making worst-case-scenario preparations.  These seem like prudent courses of action for now.

#24 Vapor Trails

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:52 AM

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 09:41 AM, said:

View PostGhost Rider, on Apr 27 2009, 10:05 AM, said:

Walking to work this morning, I heard New York City Mayor Michael Bloomburg on NPR telling those who are feeling sick to stay home.

:rolleyes:

For struggling folks, that really isn't an option, and there's a LOT of them out there. :( And some jobs don't have sick leave.

It's either pay your bills, or get kicked out into the street/get your utilities cut/whatever.

:(

I heard that, too.  Whatever.  We all take the subway, for God's sake.

A little aside-I hope the MTA doesn't have to raise fares again. :( I've gotta get my bike repaired. I actually would like to do some bike riding around Brooklyn.
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#25 Drew

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 09:53 AM

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 08:56 AM, said:

So the government should adopt a "bury-head-in-sand" approach because people might get upset when they hear that there's a global flu outbreak that might reach pandemic proportions?

No, the government should refrain from whipping up panic.

Of course, this is the same government that predicted CATASTROPHE if we didn't pass a ginormous "stimulus" bill in three days, so who am I kidding?
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#26 Dev F

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:04 AM

View PostNick, on Apr 27 2009, 09:52 AM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 10:41 AM, said:

Maybe I take these things seriously because I work in the pharma industry, or maybe I take it seriously because an entire generation of my peers was wiped out by a viral plague just a few years ago.  I dunno.
Am I missing something?  Not to be dismissive of the death toll by SARS, but 8,000 known infections and 800 fatalities isn't "an entire generation."
Scott isn't talking about SARS here, but AIDS.

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 09:53 AM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 08:56 AM, said:

So the government should adopt a "bury-head-in-sand" approach because people might get upset when they hear that there's a global flu outbreak that might reach pandemic proportions?
No, the government should refrain from whipping up panic.
Wait, how, exactly, is the government "whipping up a panic"? "U.S. health officials said the outbreak is not yet a reason for alarm in the United States."

#27 Balderdash

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:10 AM

I don't see anyone whipping up a panic not even the media.  I'm not in a panic but I am taking precautions as best I can.  Washing my hands frequently and so on, there really isn't that much that you can do, I ride the Metro every day so really what can I do.  It seems to me that the media is actually doing what it's supposed to do, telling us about the issue and helping us to prepare.

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#28 BklnScott

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:10 AM

Nick, Dev is right -- I see that I could have made that clearer.  

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 10:53 AM, said:

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 08:56 AM, said:

So the government should adopt a "bury-head-in-sand" approach because people might get upset when they hear that there's a global flu outbreak that might reach pandemic proportions?

No, the government should refrain from whipping up panic.

Of course, this is the same government that predicted CATASTROPHE if we didn't pass a ginormous "stimulus" bill in three days, so who am I kidding?

Why do you have to try to make this about politics?  This is a public health issue -- end of story.

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#29 Drew

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:49 AM

Yesterday this administration declared a "public health emergency." While Janet Napolitano immediately said "That's not as bad as it sounds," the very fact that she had to add the disclaimer suggests the administration is worried about setting off "official panic."

But now that we've got official panic, it puts the Obama administration and Matt Drudge on the same side -- perhaps for the first time ever.  

So it goes.

The media also reports that the handful of cases in the U.S. have been described as "mild".

Found this interesting:

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Swine flu has been hopping from pigs to humans for decades, sometimes causing disease, sometimes not. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, 76% of swine exhibitors at a 1988 county fair had antibodies in their bloodstream indicating a prior swine flu infection, even though the exhibitors showed no signs of illness.

Also . . .


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As of this writing, 80 people in Mexico have succumbed to swine flu.  By comparison, the CDC estimates that 36,000 people in the United States die each year of influenza-related illnesses.  And in spite of this, we in the medical community still have a hard time convincing people to get their flu shots.  If you’re not afraid of influenza, then you shouldn’t be afraid of the swine flu.  Even in the event that someone gets infected with swine flu, we have medications with demonstrated effectiveness against the strain that’s currently active.

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#30 Dev F

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:57 AM

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 10:49 AM, said:

Yesterday this administration declared a "public health emergency." While Janet Napolitano immediately said "That's not as bad as it sounds," the very fact that she had to add the disclaimer suggests the administration is worried about setting off "official panic."
So the fact that they're deliberately trying not to set off a panic is a sign that they are setting off a panic? Jeez, talk about "Damned if you do . . ."

"Declaring a 'public health emergency'" is merely an administrative step that's required to put certain precautionary procedures in place. The Obama administration didn't invent the term, and it's certainly not to blame if it causes the media to go into its typical hysterics.

Should we accuse the National Weather Service of causing a panic every time they issue a "hurricane warning"? I mean, the word "warning" sounds so scary!

Edited by Dev F, 27 April 2009 - 10:59 AM.


#31 Balderdash

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:17 AM

Quote

Yesterday this administration declared a "public health emergency." While Janet Napolitano immediately said "That's not as bad as it sounds," the very fact that she had to add the disclaimer suggests the administration is worried about setting off "official panic."

Declaring a "public health emergency" is what they are supposed to do, it's their job.  And Janet Napolitano coming out later and saying that it's not as bad as it sounds is putting qualifiers on the "public health emergency".  It's not the Obama administration willy frickin' nilly stirring up controversy or panic.

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#32 Drew

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:49 AM

The point, which you're both so willingly missing, is that she wouldn't have offered a disclaimer if she wasn't worried about people panicking at the words "public health emergency."
"Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested."

#33 BklnScott

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:54 AM

Dev--Exactly!  

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 11:49 AM, said:

Yesterday this administration declared a "public health emergency." While Janet Napolitano immediately said "That's not as bad as it sounds," the very fact that she had to add the disclaimer suggests the administration is worried about setting off "official panic."

But now that we've got official panic, it puts the Obama administration and Matt Drudge on the same side -- perhaps for the first time ever.  

So it goes.

The media also reports that the handful of cases in the U.S. have been described as "mild".

Found this interesting:

Quote

Swine flu has been hopping from pigs to humans for decades, sometimes causing disease, sometimes not. According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control, 76% of swine exhibitors at a 1988 county fair had antibodies in their bloodstream indicating a prior swine flu infection, even though the exhibitors showed no signs of illness.

Also . . .


Quote

As of this writing, 80 people in Mexico have succumbed to swine flu.  By comparison, the CDC estimates that 36,000 people in the United States die each year of influenza-related illnesses.  And in spite of this, we in the medical community still have a hard time convincing people to get their flu shots.  If you’re not afraid of influenza, then you shouldn’t be afraid of the swine flu.  Even in the event that someone gets infected with swine flu, we have medications with demonstrated effectiveness against the strain that’s currently active.

All of which I posted up-thread.  

Yes, it responds to Tamiflu and Relenza, but no, those aren't vaccines, so they will not stop the spread of the virus should it go pandemic... and if it does, we don't have enough Tamiflu and Relenza stockpiled to treat the vast majority.

Yes, the US cases here have so far been mild but we should not draw premature conclusions based on that.  First, mild by comparison to what?  To the cases in Mexico where people are dying?  Well, that's a relief: it's not killing people here.  At leats not yet.  CDC and Fort Dietrich say they have no idea why the US cases have been mild, and of course, there is no guarantee they will REMAIN so.  The initial outbreak in Mexico may have presented exactly like this, and -- crucially -- the 1918 pandemic began with a milder strain in the first six months, followed by the more virulent strain... the one that killed 100 million people and is known as "the greatest medical holocaust of all time."

Healthy young adults were particularly susceptible to the pandemic strain, though (as everyone knows) the flu typically preys on the young, the elderly, and the immunosupressed.  Healthy young adults seem particularly susceptible to *this* strain, as well.  Very troubling.    

BTW, it's NOT just another swine flu (despite what the media are calling it).  It's a mutant strain containing elements of swine, avian and human influenza virus, which have combined in a way researchers have not seen before.  This is the stuff pandemics are made of.  

Does that mean it *will* become one?  No, thankfully.  But does it mean it COULD?  Yep.  And people have to know it.  If that scares them, so be it.  At least they'll be scared and *informed*, which is infinitely better than un-scared and uninformed.

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#34 BklnScott

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:56 AM

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 12:49 PM, said:

The point, which you're both so willingly missing, is that she wouldn't have offered a disclaimer if she wasn't worried about people panicking at the words "public health emergency."

Of course she's worried about people panicking.  I guarantee you, she's more worried about a flu pandemic.  And she's right to be.

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#35 sierraleone

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 12:17 PM

View PostBklnScott, on Apr 27 2009, 12:54 PM, said:

the 1918 pandemic began with a milder strain in the first six months, followed by the more virulent strain... the one that killed 100 million people and is known as "the greatest medical holocaust of all time."

Healthy young adults were particularly susceptible to the pandemic strain, though (as everyone knows) the flu typically preys on the young, the elderly, and the immunosupressed.  Healthy young adults seem particularly susceptible to *this* strain, as well.  Very troubling.

More susceptible to contracting it, or more susceptible to dying from it? (after contracting it of course ;) )
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#36 Balderdash

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 12:19 PM

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 09:49 AM, said:

The point, which you're both so willingly missing, is that she wouldn't have offered a disclaimer if she wasn't worried about people panicking at the words "public health emergency."

I didn't miss your point at all, you're missing the point.  There are terms that are used in Government that set up certain scenarios, like when a Governor "Declares a state of emergency."  That phrase allows for agencies to begin to help.

A possible pandemic should reach a level where Government agencies can begin to prepare or at least be plugged into what's going on.

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#37 Dev F

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 12:54 PM

View PostDrew, on Apr 27 2009, 11:49 AM, said:

The point, which you're both so willingly missing, is that she wouldn't have offered a disclaimer if she wasn't worried about people panicking at the words "public health emergency."
Which means that the administration was doing its damndest to avoid causing a panic despite the fact that it needed to invoke certain protocols as a precaution. Which is exactly the opposite of causing a panic for no good reason, which is what you seemed to be accusing them of doing.

#38 Godeskian

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:00 PM

It's spreading

http://news.bbc.co.u.../uk/8020222.stm

Quote

Two people admitted to a Scottish hospital after returning from a holiday in Mexico have been confirmed as the UK's first swine flu cases.

Scottish Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon said both individuals were recovering well in a Lanarkshire hospital from mild cases of the virus

Hopefully it's not spread too far.

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#39 Neptunian

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:12 PM

The case they confirmed in Spain seems to be a mild one too. Not sure about those in Australia, the UK and elsewhere.

So how bad does this have to become for them to shut down air traffic? I'm planning a trip across the pond in June. I'd hate to cancel it just because I might catch a potentially deadly virus and croak.

#40 Shalamar

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 02:37 PM

Drew, sorry you are wrong on this one - this is not politics, it is public health - and anytime the authorities issue any sort of public health warning, there are going to be people that go overboard - adding the common sense of appeal for people not to panic is ONLY that - a common sense addition.

NOT some sort of administration grandstanding. It is an agency doing it's job.

We've had way too many science faulty movies and books shoved down our throats - catching the Index patient - the first patient is way over hyped - "Find ground zero and the problem is solved" - oh please!

- it's not possible in today's world - the scattershot of patients that we are seeing is the most likeliest sceneario for a pandemic to hit us. Lots of spread by world travellers who may actually never show any - or just minor symptoms - and it snowballs - it's not a linnear scale it's a quantum one ( oh I am probably not using the right terms)

Edited by Shalamar, 27 April 2009 - 02:42 PM.

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