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What's next for Bush? Pandemic!

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Although the specter of a severe influenza pandemic has been looming for years, the administration has only just begun to acknowledge the danger that we might face. Of course, the avian flu hasn't yet met the standard for widespread panice by demonstrating its ablility to move from human host to host to host. However, even conservative senators have admitted that if this criteria is met in China, we could be facing a major American outbreak in as little as twelve weeks.

Not to worry--we'll just pull some vaccine out of the national reserve that we keep of this stuff! Right? Unfortunately, that just isn't going to help most of us. News stories last year suggested that we were planning to stockpile "several million" doses of vaccine; recent reports have indicated that we are working to build up a supply of perhaps two million. That's good news for two million americans--probably some combination of disaster management personnel and conservative Republican loyalists. Why isn't there more? Because the Bush administration has listened to Big Pharma and allowed the market to establish priorities. Translation: let the pharmacutical industry focus on big money makers like medication for cholesterol, depression and erectile disfunction. Hey, nobody wants to be a gloomy fat guy with a limp dick. But someone in government should have had the forsight to make sure that we wouldn't be decimated by an inflluenza pandemic. The pandemic of 1918/1919 killed between 40 and 50 million people worldwide. An outbreak of H5N2 in the US in the early 1980s hit a mortality rate of around 90%. What will happen if we get hit with H5N1?

Here's Bush's recent words on the subject:

Bush wants right to use military if bird flu hits

By Charles Aldinger †|† October 4, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush asked Congress on Tuesday to consider giving him powers to use the military to enforce quarantines in case of an avian influenza epidemic.

He said the military, and perhaps the National Guard, might be needed to take such a role if the feared H5N1 bird flu virus changes enough to cause widespread human infection.

"If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?" Bush asked at a news conference.

"It's one thing to shut down airplanes. It's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu. And who best to be able to effect a quarantine?" Bush added.

"One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move. So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."
post #2 of 51
This story is even worse when you remember the flu vaccine shortage not that long ago, and Bush's response to it then was 'if your in good health, just do without it'. Showing once again this is the administration that either does not learn or simply does not care. Or both, I think they are both applicable.
post #3 of 51
Item! Military to take over department of education. "Why the hell not?" says Bush.

How is our over-scretched, under-manned military supposed to fight foreign wars, respond to natural disaster and enforce viral outbreaks at the same time? It's like he thinks the Army has an "infinite lives" code.
post #4 of 51
i've been meaning to find this out but does anyone know who threw bush the question about the bird flu? i was watching the press briefing and bush was his usual stupid self until i heard the question asked. then i noticed how he answered with something along the lines of "that's a very interesting question you asked" and proceeded to list out all these facts about the bird flu that he hasn't once mentioned ever before. now i know that the staff preps presidents ahead of press briefings for almost all questions, but this one really came out of left field.

i was looking for a question like this since these kind of questions always throw bush off and he stumbles around for the rest of his briefings. when i first heard the question i thought "here we go" but then i noticed how he answered and stood up straight as if he was waiting to say his grand answer. next thing you know, all the news channels and stories are about the bird flu and bush wanting the power to use the military within the states. no mention of the cia leak or the v.p.'s chief of staff as the second leak. its really sad.
post #5 of 51
Bring on the internment camps! I mean, really, the Superdome?! No, I demand the real thing.

After all: we paid for them.
post #6 of 51
It reads like Bush heard about this the same weekend Outbreak was on TV, and figured that it was a good enough idea.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ”The Nid Hog”
Not to worry--we'll just pull some vaccine out of the national reserve that we keep of this stuff! Right? Unfortunately, that just isn't going to help most of us. News stories last year suggested that we were planning to stockpile "several million" doses of vaccine; recent reports have indicated that we are working to build up a supply of perhaps two million. That's good news for two million americans--probably some combination of disaster management personnel and conservative Republican loyalists. Why isn't there more? Because the Bush administration has listened to Big Pharma and allowed the market to establish priorities. Translation: let the pharmacutical industry focus on big money makers like medication for cholesterol, depression and erectile disfunction. Hey, nobody wants to be a gloomy fat guy with a limp dick. But someone in government should have had the forsight to make sure that we wouldn't be decimated by an inflluenza pandemic. The pandemic of 1918/1919 killed between 40 and 50 million people worldwide. An outbreak of H5N2 in the US in the early 1980s hit a mortality rate of around 90%. What will happen if we get hit with H5N1?
The Bush administration will be following WHO guidelines for combating localised H5N1 outbreaks. These are: encircle the virus (using, in this case, the military) and then flood the area with antivirals such as Oseltamivir, which may mitigate the symptoms.

The goal isn’t to prevent the spread (this is pretty much impossible) but slow it until a vaccine can be developed.

As for news reports of vaccine stockpiles, take them with a pinch of salt. It’s impossible to develop a vaccine for a communicable H5N1 strain that, at this moment, doesn’t exist. The current strain killing millions of birds and a handful of people (through ingestion of infected meat) in S.E. Asia is, as you state, not suited for human-to-human transmission. For it to become contagious it needs to merge its genetic material with an existing human flu strain to form an entirely new variant. This might occur if someone already suffering from mild human flu ingests meat infected with H5N1.

This new variant will almost certainly be resistant to existing vaccines and so a new one will have to be typed to combat it (typing will take at least four months, with another six months needed to produce the vaccine in sufficient quantities).

So you see, all talk of stockpiling vaccines is, for the most part, hot air (a H5N1 vaccine is under development, but it’s aimed at the avian form and is therefore unsuitable for humans). We can’t begin to manufacture a vaccine until the virus goes ‘wild’, so the only option we have is containment until the vaccine arrives possibly ten months later (if you’re lucky enough to live in a developed country that has the technology to manufacture vaccines). It’s also worth noting that the virus may well mutate several times as it traverses the globe. For each mutation there’ll have to be a vaccine. Four more months, six more months of production etc. etc.

What would happen in the event of a H5N1 outbreak? It’s difficult to say really. Much depends on the emergent properties of H5N1/existing flu strain. The current variant kills half of all the humans it infects. A merger with an existing flu strain may rob it of much of its lethality. Then again it may not. The current head of the WHO’s Avian Flu response unit suggests a figure anywhere between 5 and 150 million people dead. In truth he’s guessing.
post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by g-dude
It reads like Bush heard about this the same weekend Outbreak was on TV, and figured that it was a good enough idea.
"We'll use the army to quarantine people, and send Dustin Hoffman to find the bird that started it all. It'll all be over in two hours, at most. Two and half including ad breaks. Of course, we may need to sacrifice Kevin Spacey, but isn't that a price worth paying?"
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Whitehead
"We'll use the army to quarantine people, and send Dustin Hoffman to find the bird that started it all. It'll all be over in two hours, at most. Two and half including ad breaks. Of course, we may need to sacrifice Kevin Spacey, but isn't that a price worth paying?"
Did Kevin Spacey die? I remember last seeing him in a pretty poor state (although no worse than Rene Russo's character before she received the magic antidote*), but I don't think he was ever mourned as a goner (maybe they didn't like him much).

Considering what haemorrhagic fever does to living tissue, the treatment they administer seems analogous to a pill for curing assault and battery.
post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint
How is our over-scretched, under-manned military supposed to fight foreign wars, respond to natural disaster and enforce viral outbreaks at the same time? It's like he thinks the Army has an "infinite lives" code.
Well his dad was involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. Maybe he gave Dubya knowledge of the Konami code.

*rimshot*
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint
Item! Military to take over department of education. "Why the hell not?" says Bush.

How is our over-scretched, under-manned military supposed to fight foreign wars, respond to natural disaster and enforce viral outbreaks at the same time? It's like he thinks the Army has an "infinite lives" code.
Well, Bush has spent his entire term in God Mode. What's the problem?
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seabass Inna Bun
Well, Bush has spent his entire term in God Mode. What's the problem?
Hehe.

Can we get one more joke for the hat trick?
post #13 of 51
Bush needs to establish more respawning points as well as mass production of the Spartan armor?
post #14 of 51
Maybe he'll remember to press up, up, down, down, left, right, left right, a, b, select, and start before the start of his next admin.
post #15 of 51
"We've developed a cure after only a few months since the outbreak. While we mourn the loss of our loved ones who have succumbed to this blight, we must face the fact that they were, in truth, noobs."

Though Y3k's Contra joke was clearly the best.
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Warren
Maybe he'll remember to press up, up, down, down, left, right, left right, a, b, select, and start before the start of his next admin.
Aaarrrgghh!!!! NOOOOOOOOoooo!!! It is up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start, not a, b, select!!! You've just sent in our troops without enough manpower and equipment!
post #17 of 51
Well, you go to war with the cheat codes you have.
post #18 of 51
To anyone who asks, I will hold up this thread as one of the many reasons I love Chud.
post #19 of 51
The WHO seems to be worried that the avian flu could mutate and cause a lot of death.
post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pop Zeus
The WHO seems to be worried that the avian flu could mutate and cause a lot of death.
Keith Richards, however, remains unconcerned.
post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by g-dude
Keith Richards, however, remains unconcerned.
...and Keith Moon was unavailable for comment...The new 'CSI : Houston' theme tune needing a final tweak.
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pop Zeus
The WHO seems to be worried that the avian flu could mutate and cause a lot of death.
They've been afraid of this for awhile...of course, the likelihood of it occuring has been increasing as time goes by.

Here's an bit of irony...all those people claiming that outsourcing to Asia is killing America may be closer to the mark than they expected. See, the outsourcing isn't done just over the phone, executives and trainers fly back and forth constantly. I can see, just because the God of Irony is so strong these days, that if the US gets infected with a human vector, that it would come through one of the US execs or trainers flying back from Asia....

Ok, maybe I've been reading too much Christopher Moore.
post #23 of 51
OK...call me a cockeyed optimist, but it seems to me that the predictions of apocalyptic horror from the authorities are kind of insubtantial. I mean, it's good to be prepared, don't misunderstand me. But I live in Toronto--where the horrible epidemic of SARS hit last year, causing fewer deaths than influenza did within the same year. So I tend to be just a wee bit skeptical about this stuff.

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but what we've mostly been hearing are absolute worst-case scenarios (coupled with the admittedly realistic assumption that the American government will do little or nothing to stave off the epidemic if it does hit). It's sort of, "If it mutates into a human-communicable form AND maintains its maximal potency AND gets out of a relatively small, containable area, then AS MANY AS 150 million could die." But I'm pretty sure the odds of even the first two both happening are fairly slim. I read an article by a doctor in the paper this weekend pointing out that, if it mutates enough to be human-communicable--which would probably involve crossbreeding with a human flu strain--it will probably lose a lot of its punch. He pointed to similar flu outbreaks in the 60s and 70s where a lot of people got sick, but the death count was no more than you'd expect.
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster
OK...call me a cockeyed optimist, but it seems to me that the predictions of apocalyptic horror from the authorities are kind of insubtantial. I mean, it's good to be prepared, don't misunderstand me. But I live in Toronto--where the horrible epidemic of SARS hit last year, causing fewer deaths than influenza did within the same year. So I tend to be just a wee bit skeptical about this stuff.

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but what we've mostly been hearing are absolute worst-case scenarios (coupled with the admittedly realistic assumption that the American government will do little or nothing to stave off the epidemic if it does hit). It's sort of, "If it mutates into a human-communicable form AND maintains its maximal potency AND gets out of a relatively small, containable area, then AS MANY AS 150 million could die." But I'm pretty sure the odds of even the first two both happening are fairly slim. I read an article by a doctor in the paper this weekend pointing out that, if it mutates enough to be human-communicable--which would probably involve crossbreeding with a human flu strain--it will probably lose a lot of its punch. He pointed to similar flu outbreaks in the 60s and 70s where a lot of people got sick, but the death count was no more than you'd expect.
First of all let me say that the threat of ‘apocalyptic horror’ is very real. Influenza is one of Mother Nature’s most efficient killers and it will continue to be so for many years to come. Global flu pandemics claiming tens of millions of people aren’t science fiction, they’re fact. Spanish Flu, which killed anywhere up to fifty million people between 1918 and 1919 is the last obvious example. Current strains aren’t particularly lethal (although they claim thousands of American lives each year and many, many more across the globe) mainly because our immune systems have developed to mitigate their harmful effects. Imagine the virus as a squadron of fully-laden bombers heading at us, with our immune systems the anti-aircraft defences. Over the years our ‘gunners’ have practiced their aim and are now pretty good at their job. The bombers still get though, but not enough to do any serious damage.

The problems arise when an entirely new strain of flu or one that our immune systems haven’t fought for generations arrives. To such ‘stealth’ attackers our gunners are effectively blind and so the bombers are able to fly unhindered to their target.

Or course, new strains of flu pop up every few years. H7N7 (another avian influenza subtype) was recently discovered in Holland. Lots of birds were infected (all were culled), some people too. One of them died. H9N2 reared its head in China a few months back. Reports (which are never reliable from China) suggest no one was killed by it.

In the above cases the fact that our immune systems were unable to recognise the invader was outweighed by the low pathogenicity (the ability to cause killer diseases such as pneumonia in a host) of these viruses. They might have been able to fly past the gunners with ease, but with bomb bays full of duck feathers they weren’t particularly dangerous.

H5N1 is something entirely different. It is the most pathogenic flu strain ever recorded. It is also the most lethal. So lethal, in fact, that accurate mortality figures are difficult to calculate (people come down with non-specific symptoms in the morning and are dead before they make it to hospital for diagnosis). The current mortality figure of just over 51% is the best estimate available, but it could be higher. To offer a sobering comparison, Spanish flu, which killed more people than both world wars, was fatal in 5% of infections.

Using our analogy again, H5N1 bombers aren’t just stealthed, they’re carrying nuclear weapons.

So the big question is: what will happen if H5N1 merges with an existing communicable flu strain (likely)?

The answer is – nobody knows. The best case scenario, beyond it not merging at all, is a resultant strain no more lethal than those that arrived in the 60s and 70s.

The “nightmare” scenario, which currently has the WHO (who aren’t noted for their hysterical outbursts) spooked is the one where H5N1 retains some, or even all, of its pathogenicity. Now, even if the new strain loses 90% of its bite, that’s still as lethal as Spanish flu. But there are added complications.

Flu is an airborne virus that settles at the back of the throat and is spread by minute droplets of air expelled when the infected cough, sneeze or breathe. It thrives where humans exist in close proximity to each other. In the days of Spanish flu over 90% of the world’s population lived agrarian and often quite isolated lifestyles. Consequently Spanish flu ripped through the big cities (such as Philadelphia and Chicago) but didn’t get to most living outside the big conurbations until months later, when it had been significantly weakened through contact with increasingly effective immune systems. Today, with people favouring urban or suburban lives, the flu virus has the perfect environment to spread into and it will therefore hit harder and faster.

Another thing that worked in our favour was the relatively slow spread of the virus. Flu is highly contagious and can multiply rapidly in the right environment; however it can only spread within ‘coughing range’. A flu epidemic raging through Europe is trapped there until someone carries it across the ocean. In 1918 there were no planes, cars, few trains and the only way across the ocean was by very slow boat. For flu to get from say China to America it had to go through a lot of people. The human immune system, when considered as the sum total of all human immune systems, is a very tough and clever opponent. The fact that human beings are walking around today in the midst of myriad deadly microbes is testament to this. It might get caught out from time to time and let a few bombers through, but it isn’t fooled forever, and in a very short space of time it’s on to its opponent. During the early days of Spanish flu, which may have seen a few people similarly infected by some previously avian strain, most were probably falling dead left, right and centre. Their immune systems couldn’t cope and they almost certainly died of complications such as pneumonia. Those that survived will have possessed immune systems that were slightly better able to cope. Those immune systems may well have taken enough out of the virus to make it ever-so-slightly less dangerous to the next person infected. These changes to the virus’ makeup wouldn’t have amounted to much at first, but by the time it reached America (almost a year later and via a ‘human chain’ numbering thousands) they may well have drawn some of its poison. With the arrival of high-speed international transport a new strain has a vector to journey from say Vientiane to New York undiluted in a thousandth of the time.

Most experts believe that Spanish flu unleashed upon today’s close-knit, jet-set communities would have been far more lethal.

So, let’s consider the facts:

1.Deadly flu pandemics are nothing new. They have killed hundreds of millions in the past.
2.H5N1 is the most lethal form or flu ever recorded.
3.At this moment it is not communicable in humans but it is expected to become so within years, months or even days.
4.There is no vaccine.
5.Using current development techniques there’s no possibility of manufacturing a vaccine in sufficient quantities until pretty much everyone has had an opportunity to be infected by the virus.
6.Flu has never been presented with a more suitable environment for rapid spread as the one we currently inhabit.

Taking the above into account it’s not difficult to see why many people are extremely worried. An outbreak comparable with that seen in 1918 would cause massive global catastrophe. The death toll would make all the world’s disasters over the last 100 years put together seem insignificant. It’s doubtful that any of us would survive without losing someone pretty close such as a wife, a child, a mother, a colleague etc.

The big danger is that we don’t take this threat seriously. The odds of a highly-pathogenic strain of flu sweeping the globe are not the crazy kind that we see associated with comet strikes or super volcanoes or mega-tsunamis. The threat is real, likely and always with us.
post #25 of 51
I think the problem, Geoff, is that without political power, what can those of us on the boards do other than go on with our lives? Your post scares the living shit out of me, but I can do one of two things: live my life as normal or cower in my room with a stockpile of water and twinkies.
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Whitehead
"We'll use the army to quarantine people, and send Dustin Hoffman to find the bird that started it all. It'll all be over in two hours, at most. Two and half including ad breaks. Of course, we may need to sacrifice Kevin Spacey, but isn't that a price worth paying?"
After seeing, The Life of David Gale, the American populace agreed to put Mr. Spacey down.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Goldberg
I think the problem, Geoff, is that without political power, what can those of us on the boards do other than go on with our lives? Your post scares the living shit out of me, but I can do one of two things: live my life as normal or cower in my room with a stockpile of water and twinkies.
I think that’s a perfectly sensible position to adopt. There’s really not much we can do to prevent pandemics from happening (they’re Mother Nature’s way of paring down species numbers) so there’s no point falling to our knees in despair.

That said there are plenty of steps governments can take to save millions of lives - a workable flu pandemic response plan being foremost among them. Most of the prosperous western nations have either begun stockpiling anti-viral drugs*, which may help combat some of the worst symptoms, or are considering doing so.

Progress has also been made in cutting down the time it takes to manufacture and deploy vaccines using procedural and technological improvements. In the event of flu pandemic existing flu vaccine manufacturers (such as Chiron) will automatically cease normal production and re-jig operations to begin combating the new strain.

The major problem is that there are only a few factories around the globe capable of producing vaccines (vaccine manufacturers work at the cutting edge of science and thus there’s enormous expense involved in setting these labs up) and they don’t have anywhere near production capacity to supply everyone. The WHO is trying to ramp up capacity, but it could be a few years before any serious progress is made.

There’s no doubt that Bush used this issue to muddy the waters of his current political situation. But the fact he seems even vaguely aware of the problem is somewhat encouraging. America, with its massive pharmaceutical industry, is well placed to lead the fight against pandemic. Certainly it can’t afford to get caught unprepared as was the case with Katrina.

* There’s a good reason why Western nations are stockpiling these drugs. The current ‘best treatment’, Oseltamivir, is mostly manufactured in China. The moment a flu pandemic is declared it’s widely expected that China will, quite rightly, think of its own citizens first and cease exporting the drug. You can be sure political considerations will outweigh medical ones when it comes to deciding who gets vaccines, too. If you’re thinking ‘This is bad news for poor Third World nations’, you’re right.
post #28 of 51
Quote:
4. There is no vaccine.
If you mean standard avian flu, there is a vaccine that does an adequate job of containing the spread of the disease. If you mean the "super strain" variant, well, it doesn't exist yet, so the lack of a vaccine is a given.

Quote:
5. Using current development techniques there’s no possibility of manufacturing a vaccine in sufficient quantities until pretty much everyone has had an opportunity to be infected by the virus.
Thats kinda wrong. Technically speaking, there would only need to be about 100 or so infections, and thats only because you would need a sample in order to confirm the slightly different mutations present in each infection. Obviously in real world terms, there would be alot more than a hundred infections before the proper channels realize that the strain is present, but to say that everyone would need to have the potential for exposure before a vaccine could be worked on is just not accurate.

The type of flu to which WHO and everyone else is clamoring for a vaccine to is H5N1, which is not only containable, but treatable. What the WHO is truly afriad of (and what accounts for the 150 million aspect of their "possible dead" scenario) is if H5N1 were to go through antigenic shift (avian flu fucks human flu, and has a kid). THAT would create the doomsday virus which everyone should be afraid of, as it would have the antigens of both originator virii. The Spanish Flu that Geoff references was caused by antigenic shift. Combine that with the natural antigenic drift (where the virus creates errors that aren't corrected, but that leaves the resulting strain that much more resistant to natural defenses) which occurs in all forms of influenza, and you would have the nightmare scenario.

Antigenic shift has the potential to would occur if a person with human flu came into contact with a bird infected with avian flu. Eating an infected bird, or having other physical contact with it can cause this. Due to the abysmal state of the U.S. meat/poultry industry and it's complete disregard for proper safety and disease control rules, I wouldn't entirely rule that out as a possibility.
post #29 of 51
Here's the article I was talking about, by the way. It's actually a book review, though it's written by a former chief health officer of Ontario.

Like the author of that article, I have to question the idea that we're living in this insanely germ-friendly environment. Our sanitation techniques are better and we don't live crammed into tenement apartments, living off table scraps. And, as he points out, we've gone through this kind of thing before with Swine Flu. We had commercial aviation and suburbs back then and the world wasn't thrown into chaos.

Just for balance, here's a guy who's been tracking Avian Flu articles (and who disagrees with, but speaks highly of, the above article.)
post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Y3k-Bug
If you mean standard avian flu, there is a vaccine that does an adequate job of containing the spread of the disease. If you mean the "super strain" variant, well, it doesn't exist yet, so the lack of a vaccine is a given.
Yes, I was referring to the new variant. But it's still an important point to make. Most people living in Western nations automatically assume that they can be vaccinated against flu.

Quote:
Thats kinda wrong. Technically speaking, there would only need to be about 100 or so infections, and thats only because you would need a sample in order to confirm the slightly different mutations present in each infection. Obviously in real world terms, there would be alot more than a hundred infections before the proper channels realize that the strain is present, but to say that everyone would need to have the potential for exposure before a vaccine could be worked on is just not accurate.
That’s not what I’m saying. The point I was making is that there currently isn’t enough capacity to vaccinate a substantial proportion of the world’s population before the virus sweeps the globe. Optimistic assessments suggest that from case 1 it could take no more than 12 weeks for the virus to arrive in major American population centres. Currently it takes 4 – 12 months to produce enough vaccine to treat most of America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In short – if the new strain is particularly contagious it’ll be on us before we’ve even started vaccination.

Quote:
The type of flu to which WHO and everyone else is clamoring for a vaccine to is H5N1, which is not only containable, but treatable.
As far as I am aware (I could be wrong on this) there is no available H5N1 vaccine, although one is currently being produced under the eye of the WHO. H5N1 is containable mainly because it isn’t communicable in humans and can only infect through ingestion of infected poultry. You are correct that there are treatments for H5N1, but the problem is getting them to the victims before they suffer severe respiratory problems which are usually fatal. The virus hits hard and fast.

Quote:
What the WHO is truly afriad of (and what accounts for the 150 million aspect of their "possible dead" scenario) is if H5N1 were to go through antigenic shift (avian flu fucks human flu, and has a kid). THAT would create the doomsday virus which everyone should be afraid of, as it would have the antigens of both originator virii. The Spanish Flu that Geoff references was caused by antigenic shift. Combine that with the natural antigenic drift (where the virus creates errors that aren't corrected, but that leaves the resulting strain that much more resistant to natural defenses) which occurs in all forms of influenza, and you would have the nightmare scenario.

Antigenic shift has the potential to would occur if a person with human flu came into contact with a bird infected with avian flu. Eating an infected bird, or having other physical contact with it can cause this. Due to the abysmal state of the U.S. meat/poultry industry and it's complete disregard for proper safety and disease control rules, I wouldn't entirely rule that out as a possibility.
This is pretty much what I’ve said above, although I may have confused you by referring to the antigen-shifted ‘superflu’ strain as H5N1, which is, of course, incorrect.
post #31 of 51
I hear ya Geoff, and can agree with alot of that.

But I just don't think the super variant has the potential to sweep the globe, unless there is a complete and utter failure by Europe/Asia's poultry industries in containing the possible infection of their birds. So far, I have to admit they've been doing a good job of this. Prankster's link suggests a Romanian outbreak was contained just a few days ago. My fear is if chickens in this country end up with the virus. The way the U.S. poultry industry goes about breeding and processing chickens would be the perfect environment for avian flu to flourish.

But as it stand now, I don't think the doomsday scenario will play out. I won't argue that it wouldn't take a hell of a lot to put us there, but as it stands now we aren't in danger of it occurring.
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster

* There’s a good reason why Western nations are stockpiling these drugs. The current ‘best treatment’, Oseltamivir, is mostly manufactured in China. The moment a flu pandemic is declared it’s widely expected that China will, quite rightly, think of its own citizens first and cease exporting the drug. You can be sure political considerations will outweigh medical ones when it comes to deciding who gets vaccines, too. If you’re thinking ‘This is bad news for poor Third World nations’, you’re right.
Ok, now to get paranoid/Machiavelli on you folks, one might consider the question of BushCo saying, "Hey, I know how to win the oil war...let this infect the Middle East, take out most of the opposition, then sweep in before it gets too bad....."


*looks around* What? Hey, I'm a writer, I get paid to think this crap up....
post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Y3k-Bug
I hear ya Geoff, and can agree with alot of that.

But I just don't think the super variant has the potential to sweep the globe, unless there is a complete and utter failure by Europe/Asia's poultry industries in containing the possible infection of their birds. So far, I have to admit they've been doing a good job of this. Prankster's link suggests a Romanian outbreak was contained just a few days ago. My fear is if chickens in this country end up with the virus. The way the U.S. poultry industry goes about breeding and processing chickens would be the perfect environment for avian flu to flourish.
All evidence suggests that H5N1 is out of control. Even if it hasn’t managed to get to places such as Romania it soon will. The virus is so entrenched in S.E. Asia that health authorities no longer bother about culling poultry. Recently H5N1 has spread to tigers and domestic cats, both of which aren’t noted for being susceptible to avian flu. Even more worrying is that it’s being found in ducks, which can carry the virus thousands of miles.

The further the virus spreads the more opportunity for it to come into contact with human beings. Even if it doesn’t mutate into a human-communicable form we can still expect massive disruption to the poultry industry with millions of birds being slaughtered at the first sign of an outbreak. Certainly a lot of people will think twice about eating or working with chicken.

Quote:
But as it stand now, I don't think the doomsday scenario will play out. I won't argue that it wouldn't take a hell of a lot to put us there, but as it stands now we aren't in danger of it occurring.
We know the ‘doomsday scenario’ will, at some point, play out. Flu, whether it be some H5N1 variant or other, will continue to sweep the globe for years to come. Most of these epidemics will be relatively harmless but occasionally we’ll be hit by a nasty one that’ll kill a lot of people. At this moment H5N1 seems like a very strong candidate. It’s remarkably virulent, demonstrably capable of jumping the species barrier and very lethal (most forms of flu kill by complications arising through secondary infections, which result in pneumonia. H5N1 causes pneumonia directly).

WRT Prankster’s article, I think the Ontarian Health Officer makes some good points. We have experienced several false alarms in the past and we can’t be sure that a ‘super flu’ strain is about to emerge. However, I do think he’s being somewhat mischievous comparing influenza with haemorrhagic fevers such as Marburg, Lassa and Ebola, which don’t spread via airborne transmission and are thus far more difficult to contract. I agree the press has a tendency to hype up such threats for commercial reasons, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss this threat entirely.

For anyone interested in an objective assessment of the H5N1 threat, the WHO runs a situation update page that gives detailed reports of new outbreaks. If avian flu shows signs of developing into pandemic you’ll find news of it here first.

Also, BBC Radio 4 has an excellent, if somewhat pessimistic, piece on the threat of global pandemic in its Strain on the System programme (select show number three – Pandemics). It's worth listening too.
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster
The virus is so entrenched in S.E. Asia that health authorities no longer bother about culling poultry.
That simply isn't accurate, and kinda doesn't make sense; chickens are (currently) the bird from which humans have the most contact with out of the animals that contract H5N1. Tracking and eliminating birds that have the strain is your best way off keeping the so-called doomsday scenario from taking place, at least until the vaccine is ready within the next 6-12 months. The only way you can stave off the further infection of humans-and thus greatly reducing the chances of a super-strain arising from those infections-is to cut down on the overall human/infected poultry exposures. Which you do by killing poultry when it's infected. There are other less drastic ways of preventing human infections though:

1) Stop the sale of live poultry in infected regions
2) Improve the hygiene of the areas in which these poultry are kept
3) Stop keeping chickens in extremely close quarters
4) Reduce human/poultry exposure to wild, migratory birds

Quote:
Recently H5N1 has spread to tigers and domestic cats, both of which aren’t noted for being susceptible to avian flu.
Thats slightly disingenuous; there are many strains of influenza that cross the species barrier. Swine flu did, and a few other subtypes of avian flu do. I don't see what danger that has is infecting humans, as I can't think of too many cats that have contact with chickens/wild birds, or people that make constant contact with tigers. The countries in which these instances are occurring simply have to take measures to lower them. Keep those domesticated cats inside, away from wild birds and their feces.
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Y3k-Bug
That simply isn't accurate, and kinda doesn't make sense; chickens are (currently) the bird from which humans have the most contact with out of the animals that contract H5N1. Tracking and eliminating birds that have the strain is your best way off keeping the so-called doomsday scenario from taking place, at least until the vaccine is ready within the next 6-12 months. The only way you can stave off the further infection of humans-and thus greatly reducing the chances of a super-strain arising from those infections-is to cut down on the overall human/infected poultry exposures. Which you do by killing poultry when it's infected. There are other less drastic ways of preventing human infections though:

1) Stop the sale of live poultry in infected regions
2) Improve the hygiene of the areas in which these poultry are kept
3) Stop keeping chickens in extremely close quarters
4) Reduce human/poultry exposure to wild, migratory birds.
I’m sorry but it’s the WHO itself providing this information:

‘Evidence strongly indicates that H5N1 is now endemic in parts of Asia, having established a permanent ecological niche in poultry’ – Avian Influenza: Assessing the pandemic threat (Jan 2005).

Culling poultry in expansion zones makes sense as a delaying tactic, but attempting to do so in such a vast area of land, where this virus has become endemic, is akin to cutting the lawn with tweezers.

I agree that 1, 2, 3 & 4 make sense, but it’s simply not feasible to implement this in remote places such as SW China, Viet Nam, Indonesia etc. where people and animals have traditionally lived in close proximity and effective policing is practically impossible.

Quote:
Thats slightly disingenuous; there are many strains of influenza that cross the species barrier. Swine flu did, and a few other subtypes of avian flu do. I don't see what danger that has is infecting humans, as I can't think of too many cats that have contact with chickens/wild birds, or people that make constant contact with tigers. The countries in which these instances are occurring simply have to take measures to lower them. Keep those domesticated cats inside, away from wild birds and their feces.
I don’t see what’s disingenuous about it. I didn’t mention pigs because they have long been recognised as ideal mixing vessels for influenza because their respiratory tracts are lined with both avian and human receptors. Up until now domestic cats have never been considered susceptible to any influenza A virus, so news that H5N1 has jumped the species barrier (thus creating an additional vector for human infection) is worrying.

Again I think you’re suggestions are valid, but I doubt whether they are in any way enforceable in that part of the world.
post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster
‘Evidence strongly indicates that H5N1 is now endemic in parts of Asia, having established a permanent ecological niche in poultry’ – Avian Influenza: Assessing the pandemic threat (Jan 2005).

Culling poultry in expansion zones makes sense as a delaying tactic, but attempting to do so in such a vast area of land, where this virus has become endemic, is akin to cutting the lawn with tweezers.
Agreed, but for the short-term (being the time until adequate amounts of the vaccine can be created) it's simply the best, and to a large degree only, option of stemming infection rates. Slaughtering of infected chickens should be done, to follow with the suggestions made in my other post reduce the number of infections in the long-term.


Quote:
I don’t see what’s disingenuous about it. I didn’t mention pigs because they have long been recognised as ideal mixing vessels for influenza because their respiratory tracts are lined with both avian and human receptors. Up until now domestic cats have never been considered susceptible to any influenza A virus, so news that H5N1 has jumped the species barrier (thus creating an additional vector for human infection) is worrying.
My apologies for that. I was thinking of cat influenza syndrome, because I'm kind of an idiot, as that has nothing to do with this at all. Again, sorry.

Quote:
Again I think you’re suggestions are valid, but I doubt whether they are in any way enforceable in that part of the world.
In my opinion it's something that simply has to be done however. Not only as a reaction to avian flu, but as a matter of practicing the healthy breeding and distrubution of poultry. Which this flu has shown, simply hasn't been occurring. I'm not trying to say that the disease is a direct cause of the bad hygiene conditions, but it certainly contributed to the vast infection among wildlife.
post #37 of 51
I agree with Geoff that sooner or later the doomsday scenario will happen...it's just a matter or probability.
I an not a fan of Bush, but I have a feeling the basic plans he has for a crisis like this is little different then what Clinton or Kerry would have had.
It's fine to bash dubya, but let's keep some sanity about it.
post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster
If you’re thinking ‘This is bad news for poor Third World nations’, you’re right.
When is it ever GOOD news for Third World Nations?

"Oh look! Bono's organizing a concert! Maybe we'll get some money this time!"
post #39 of 51
Enough already, you guys are bumming me out. Give us the good news now.
post #40 of 51
Ugh, I really learned about this a few weeks ago. Sad as it may sound, I was depressed for days. This is really going to happen eventually, and we're completely unprepared for it.
post #41 of 51
post #42 of 51
Forbidden

You were denied access because: Access denied by SmartFilter content category. The requested URL belongs to the following categories: Nudity, Humor.


Apparently, we're not allowed humor at work.

Yet, they still let us access Fox News.
post #43 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Desslar
Enough already, you guys are bumming me out. Give us the good news now.
You want some good news?

Sure, try this.
post #44 of 51
post #45 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Y3k-Bug
You can’t knock the EU’s willingness to tackle the problem, but you’ve got to wonder how they hope to stop the virus from entering Western Europe. Right now the risk is low to moderate because most birds are migrating SW from Russia toward Southern Europe and North Africa for the winter. In early February they’ll be heading north again. When you consider that one bird pellet contains enough virus to infect over one hundred thousand birds, you can’t help but think it’s a hopeless cause. All it takes is for a couple to lose their radar fix and you’re knee deep in dead chickens.

I was talking to a friend of mine who supplies feed to several chicken farms near Manchester. He says poultry farmers, especially the free range variety, are shitting their pants right now.
post #46 of 51
Three guesses about what's so funny about the GOP, the avian flu and intelligent design?

Hint: I wonder if the evolution of the avian flu that allowed the virus to be transmitted from bird to mammal (and so on) was so complex and precise that it had to be designed by Jesus, as a result of the sins of poultry consumption?
post #47 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Foster
You want some good news?

Sure, try this.
A worrying (if albeit predictable) development from the above here. The previous case showed that insufficient doses of Tamiflu engender resistance in the virus. Now outright drug-resistant strains of H5N1 are emerging.

I bet WHO is a bit miffed about this happening before H5N1 has even become communicable amongst humans. Even more concerning for America, Britain, France, Japan etc. who have all placed several billion dollars' worth of orders with Roche for a drug that may be useless if, as predicted, a H5N1 pandemic occurs.

Now is a good time to buy shares in GLAXO/SK - which manufacture the only possible alternative (rendered useless as quickly as Tamiflu no doubt).
post #48 of 51
<Pandora mode>

And now it's reached the 'Gateway to Europe'. WHO report up to 11 cases in Eastern Turkey since January 1st. That's way above the mean; which - if they all check out H5N1 postive - suggests either 11 people have been incredibly unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ... or, it's becoming easier to catch.

</Pandora mode>
post #49 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ModernLover
and just to think nobody gave a shit about Sars
SARS was always likely to burn out. It is a virus carried and passed on exclusively by humans (there is some evidence of SARS in animals, but no easy animal-to-human transmission vector has been detected). Cure or quarantine all of those infected by SARS and there’s an excellent chance it will cease to exist.

Influenza is something entirely different. It has a natural reservoir of pigs, ducks, hens, cats etc. which it can easily leap into when things are rough and out of when things aren’t. Cure or quarantine every last human infected with H5N1 and there's still a billion or more possible transmission vectors from H5N1 infected animals.
post #50 of 51
From the BBC.

Interactive graph highlighting the spread of H5N1 among humans, birds, as well as the migration patterns of said birds. Just very well done.

Also from the BBC, another 2 cases of human contracted bird flu found in Turkey. If this continues to move west, I think antigenic shift in the viral strain will be unavoidable.
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