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Old 06-24-2005, 12:15 PM   #1
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Bird Flu Pandemic

Is anyone else tracking this in the news? This has been popping up in the news over the past few years. There have been huge culls of millions of birds in Asia recently. Health officials at all levels including the WHO and the UN are predicting an eventual pandemic similar which could lead to 5-7 million deaths but affect over a billion people as they estimate that 25-30% of the population will be effected.

If this comes to pass, all the threads we discuss could be totally unimportant. The fear level could bring the economy to a standstill in many parts of the world as people stay away from work and other people because of fear of contamination or illness.

The experts suggest that countries with poor health care systems would be most affected while other countries would still have casualties but to a lesser extent. I just a caught a blip on CBC news about how some physicians are already prescribing and storing flu vaccine in their homes for their families. Their reasoning is that when this hits, there will be nothing else available for them.

Scientists are working on a vaccine but some reports suggest they won't be ready until 2007. Hopefully, we won't see such a pandemic but not much we can do about it. It's natures way. But we can mitigate the effects of it.
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Old 06-24-2005, 02:47 PM   #2
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And antiviral resistant strains have popped up. You can thank the Chinese for using human antiviral drugs on their poultry for that one.
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Old 08-21-2005, 01:45 PM   #3
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The possibility of a worldwide flu pandemic is starting to get more attention in the media, so I thought it would be a good idea to revive this thread. This topic certainly deserves more attention than it got back in June. I myself didn't know much at all about the bird flu and the worldwide threat is poses until this morning when I clicked a link to a video news story about it on the MSN homepage. link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8989233/

That MSNBC story got my attention, so I then Googled the topic and found a lot more reading material on the web. It's pretty sobering to think what will happen if and when the H5N1 virus mutates into a strain that is easily passed from one human to another. The scientific community is very concerned about this and we should be, too. If and when this virus does mutate into a contagious strain and the pandemic starts, there won't be much that can be done to stop it. Many scientists are saying it's only a matter of time. Most people in Asia who have contracted the bird flu got it through contact with infected poultry. But a couple health workers this year did get the flu through human contact with people who were sick. As more people in Asia (and it's spread into Russia) come down with the bird flu, it gives the H5N1 virus more opportunity to mutate into a contagious strain that can be passed from one person to another through normal contact or airborne by simply sneezing. Once that happens, it'll spread like crazy and eventually reach all parts of the globe. Many countries will simply not have the capability to produce vaccines for their populations. Even the US won't be able to deal with it. It'll take 6 months for scientists to produce a vaccine once the H5N1 virus has mutated into a contagious form. Then 2 years to produce enough vaccines to protect 10 to 15% of the US population. We're still using 1950's technology to produce flu vaccines. 2 years will not be anywhere near enough time. The damage will have already been done within the first few months to year of the pandemic start. Most of the vaccines produced in the first year or two will go to workers deemed "necessary", like policeman, firemen and medical workers who'll be treating the sick. Most of us who don't work in those industries will be SOL and have a good chance of getting sick or even dying. Yeah, that would suck! I can only imagine the chaos that will ensue once the general public realizes their governments won't be able to provide them with a vaccine. All of this is a lot to think about. As they say, no sense in worrying about things you have no control over. Perhaps this is why the media hasn't been giving this as much attention as they do to daily events in Iraq, terrorism, the missing teen in Aruba and Brad Pitt/Angelina Joline. Unlike the Y2K hoopla 6 years ago, no one really knows when a pandemic will start, if at all. It could happen at any time. A few weeks, months or even years. With Y2K, we knew when it was going to happen and companies spent millions of dollars to patch their computer systems and software to prevent anything major from happening. In the end, nothing happened. Unlike Y2K, we can't prevent this virus from mutating. They say major pandemics occur on average every 70 years. The last big one was in 1918, so we're overdue for one. I can only hope that national, state and local goverments are doing what they can to prepare for it, but I'm not really confident they are doing much. Governments should at least start educating people so it doesn't come as a big shock if and when it happens. I'm more concerned about this than terrorism. But I'm not going to worry about this since it wouldn't do any good, but there are steps that I can take now to improve my chances of survival if the unthinkable does happen. Like keeping a supply of bottled water and unperishable food stored away. Once a pandemic starts, it'll be mayhem at all supermarkets as everyone tries to stockpile essentials. During a pandemic, the best way to avoid getting the virus will be to avoid contact with those infected. So that may mean staying indoors and not leaving the house if at all possible for months until the worst is over. I'd rather deal with the loss of income than getting sick and dying. Maybe my boss will let me telecommute 5 days a week instead of the one day they're letting me telecommute now.


If anyone would like to do their own reading, here are some links:

"Canadian bank warns avian flu pandemic could cause global economic mayhem" - http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...u_050817214234

"British doctors gear up for bird flu pandemic" - http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4067116/

"Bird flu: we're all going to die" - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/02/bird_flu/

Avian flu resource page at Nature.com - http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/a...ndex.html#news
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Old 08-21-2005, 03:44 PM   #4
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Maybe there aren't many threads on this, cos no one wants to think about it. I sure as hell don't.

(thanks for the reading though, of course )
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Old 08-21-2005, 05:27 PM   #5
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If FYM folk really want to raise the fear level like 110%, we should do a whole heap of threads about

the coming bird flu pandemic
the coming Peak Oil crisis
the coming terrorist nuclear bomb

All are worrying for sure, but nothing is inevitable until it happens. I don't want to live in terror all the time, even if I should.

Furthermore if it is inevitable, what can I do? Nothing, is what.
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Old 08-21-2005, 05:49 PM   #6
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^ I agree.
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Old 08-21-2005, 06:13 PM   #7
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I work in the Benefits department of my company, and my boss was just talking about this the other day.

It's a big concern, not only for the threat this could bring to the workforce (it's a retail company with HUGE streams of customers around the world), but to the effect it would have on our health insurance.
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Old 08-21-2005, 06:24 PM   #8
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SARS anyone? remember that? It's alright if you don't because it wasn't worth remembering. And of course it had such grueling symptoms as general discomfort and fever. Anything but that!

I've been hearing about this Avian flu for some time now. I do believe that it will not reach epidemic proportions. It's just being overhyped by people looking for the next big story. Which this one is not cut out to be.
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Old 08-21-2005, 06:27 PM   #9
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It does kind of feel like this comes up every year.

Watch out for the (insert animal name here) flu!
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Old 08-21-2005, 08:48 PM   #10
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We are very overdue for a pandemic outbreak of the flu with 1918 being the last one.
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Old 08-21-2005, 10:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
We are very overdue for a pandemic outbreak of the flu with 1918 being the last one.
One of the interesting things about the 1918 flu in the United States is that later studies found that nearly 100% of the population was actually exposed to the flu because they all had antibodies in their blood against it. But only 28% of the USA population became ill with the flu. This is one of the big mysteries of the the 1918 flu.

Another interesting fact of the 1918 flu is that most infections and deaths happened among people in their 20s and 30s. Typically, the flu is usually more common among the very young and the very old. Perhaps because the age group from 20 to 40 has the largest level of activity away from the home, whether it be for work or social activities, was a key factor, but I'm not totally sure.

675,000 Americans died from the flu out of a total population of about 105,000,000. Thats a little more than a half percent of the population.

If a similar flu were to hit the United States today with the same level of infection and death, simply multiply the statistics by 3 as the population is now almost exactly 3 times the size it was back in 1918. About 90 million people would get sick and 2 million would die.

But, this is not 1918, and the ability of the medical community to detect a problem, isolate it, and treat those that do become infected, is much greater than it was in 1918. Although I'm sure there are studies that would dispute this, the number of people who would actually get sick or die I think would be a smaller percentage of the population than the 1918 outbreak.
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2

Although I'm sure there are studies that would dispute this, the number of people who would actually get sick or die I think would be a smaller percentage of the population than the 1918 outbreak.
I hope you're right and the percentage is smaller, if a breakout does occur. But from what I read, it may end up being a higher percentage. As you said, in that 1918 pandemic, 28% of the population already had antibodies to fight off the virus. That wouldn't be the case with the H5N1 virus. It would be considered a "novel" virus, meaning most people would not have pre-existing antibody protection against it.

It's a shame that in this day and age, we aren't better prepared for something like this. We're still using 1950's technology to produce flu vaccines. The drug companies that produce flu vaccines aren't willing to spend more money on research to come up with improved methods for producing flu vaccinations because there's no profit in it. Flu vaccines are given out for free. So why doesn't the government step in and give them the money they need? When the US military needs better fighter jets, bombs and protective gear for the troops, the US government gives defense contractors like Boeing the taxpayer money they need to get the job done. They can't do the same with the drug companies?
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2ITNOL



The drug companies that produce flu vaccines aren't willing to spend more money on research to come up with improved methods for producing flu vaccinations because there's no profit in it. Flu vaccines are given out for free. So why doesn't the government step in and give them the money they need?
That's not entirely true. I work for a biotech company where our main products are all flu related. The company has put in much of it's resources to developing new vaccines and has begun working with pandemic strains.

The money comes in the form of government contracts. Up until the Chiron debacle, the US government had no reason to enlist more suppliers of the vaccine, but this has changed now and more contracts are up for grabs. They see the need to have multiple suppliers.
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:36 AM   #14
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Originally posted by U2ITNOL


I hope you're right and the percentage is smaller, if a breakout does occur. But from what I read, it may end up being a higher percentage. As you said, in that 1918 pandemic, 28% of the population already had antibodies to fight off the virus. That wouldn't be the case with the H5N1 virus. It would be considered a "novel" virus, meaning most people would not have pre-existing antibody protection against it.

It's a shame that in this day and age, we aren't better prepared for something like this. We're still using 1950's technology to produce flu vaccines. The drug companies that produce flu vaccines aren't willing to spend more money on research to come up with improved methods for producing flu vaccinations because there's no profit in it. Flu vaccines are given out for free. So why doesn't the government step in and give them the money they need? When the US military needs better fighter jets, bombs and protective gear for the troops, the US government gives defense contractors like Boeing the taxpayer money they need to get the job done. They can't do the same with the drug companies?
No what I said was that after the flu pandemic was over, 100% of the population had antibodies meaning that the entire population at some point had been exposed. Despite the fact that everyone in the country was exposed to the flu, it only made 28% of the population sick.
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Old 08-24-2005, 11:47 AM   #15
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What nobody seems to remember is that the last flu pandemic was in 1919. There were certain circumstances that allowed this pandemic to spread around the world with ease, most of which are not relevant as we speak. First of all, the First World War had just ended. And this was not just any war. It was "the war to end all wars," where tens of millions of people were killed and dislocated. Many areas were devastated, and experienced famine. One of the first by-products of famine/war is disease - such as the flu. It spread easily among undernourished people living in unsanitary living conditions, sometimes crowded refugee camps. Also, the flu spread among soldiers fighting in filthy, overcrwoded trenches - the men were exhausted, living in crowded brracks, and the disease spread like wildfire. When the war ended, they brought it home with them. Even people on the home front were compromised by years of war. They too were exhausted, and on rations, and it was the perfect breeding ground for a pandemic. Add to that the fact that conditions were generally less sanitary than today, and the fact that medecine has come a long way since 1919, and you may have an explaination for why so many people died of the flu in 1919. It was a bad flu, sure, but we've had the occassional "bad" flu pandemic since then, and lots of people died, but not anything like 1919.

therefore, I feel that is is less likely to happen now than in 1919. But if the newspapers and TV were to admit that, they wouldn't have anything to talk about, and wouldn't sell their products.

I'm not saying we can't have a another world war, but if we do, then I'll start to worry a little bit more about pandemics.
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