Bird Flu - Archives
December 7th - December
psychologist tells the
Birmingham Business Journal the difference between productive worry
about bird flu and unproductive worry:
clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says the
very word pandemic is scary indeed, and some within the general population
are panicking about the possibility of the occurrence "because it's been
brought to our attention almost daily."
"I suppose the upside
is that pandemic doesn't make epidemic sound so bad," Klapow says. The
problem, he says, is not the news media's reporting in general but rather
the repeated use of sound bites that reduce the average citizen's exposure
to the subject to words and phrases like "pandemic," "not prepared" and
"The bottom line is
that there's a lot more to public health issues than the doom and gloom
people focus on, and it clearly becomes a situation of productive versus
unproductive worrying," Klapow says.
involves variables people can control; unproductive worrying involves
intangibles. "Unproductive worrying doesn't get you anywhere, and it causes
unnecessary stress, so it becomes a question of how do you take that worry
about something you can't possibly control and channel it into productive
actions," he says.
"We can be as
panicked as we want about a flu pandemic, but in the process we put our
bodies at risk for contracting illness because heightened stress compromises
our immune systems."
backtracking to what is known rather than what could possibly be. The
reality is that influenza season has arrived and, even under normal
conditions, a small percentage of the U.S. population grows gravely ill and
even dies from flu-related complications each year. Another known factor is
that the flu is highly contagious, so infected people should not work while
ill. Doing so prolongs the duration of the sick person's recovery while
exposing his or her co-workers to the virus.
"Sick employees put
an entire office at risk, and healthy habits provide employees more control
to not only eliminate fear about a pandemic but also do something to
directly create a safer workplace," he says. Adequate sleep, exercise,
proper diet and keeping stress levels in check all strengthen an
individual's immune system and decrease the chances of falling ill in the
first place. "Far and away the biggest impact on health -- whether bacterial
infection, virus or chronic disease -- the biggest impact comes from what
people do or don't do every day," Klapow says.
Tamiflu – What Would You Do?
has gained renown for his witty, pithy weekly column, The Ethicist, in the
New York Times. On Sunday he answered a query from a doctor about
Like many physicians,
I am inundated with requests for Tamiflu, the best hope for combating avian
flu should a pandemic occur. Because it is in short supply, I prescribe
Tamiflu only to those with an immediate need, not those who want it on hand
as a precaution - whether my patients, my family or me. When a close
relative requested a prescription, I explained my reluctance, but the
relative strongly persisted. I don't want to compromise my ethics or damage
family harmony. What should I do? J. B., Philadelphia
part of his reply:
You should remain
firm. Family pressure can be powerful enough to squeeze a lump of coal into
a diamond, but it should not be powerful enough to compel you to do for a
relative what you would not do for your patients, your spouse, your children
A bird flu
may not occur, says a prominent scientist, contradicting the claims of
inevitability from many others.
"It may never
happen," said Jeremy Farrar, director of Oxford University's clinical
research unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City,
Vietnam. Dr Farrar said weaknesses inherent in the virus might explain why
it had not killed more people and had not been passed from human to human in
the two years since the first outbreak.
…"There may be
constraints on the virus so that it may not be able to mutate and retain its
nastiness and also go from one human to another," he said. "We haven't seen
a case in Ho Chi Minh City for several months."
…"Why have so few
people been infected, given the billions of poultry across Asia and so many
people exposed to them on a daily basis?" Dr Farrar said.
Concealing Bird Flu Deaths?
Yes, says another prominent expert, Guan Yi of the University of Hong
Kong. "Quite honestly, some provinces have the virus and they still haven't
announced any outbreak. I can show direct evidence, even though China is
still trying very hard to block my research," he told the
Globe and Mail newspaper.
Health Organization continues to support the Chinese authorities, who deny
from a story in South Africa’s Business Day:
Panic, Wait 'Til Bird Flu Arrives, Then Panic'
Dead and a Major Recession
Congressional Budget Office has produced a report on the possible impact
of a bird flu pandemic on the US economy. It does not make pleasant reading.
If a pandemic similar
in scope to the 1918-19 Spanish flu outbreak were to occur, 30% of Americans
would become ill and 2.5% of those would die, the CBO said. U.S. output
would be reduced by about 5%, which would be the worst recession since 1980
and about average for recessions since World War II.
"The most important
effects would be a sharp decline in demand as people avoided shopping malls,
restaurants and other public spaces, and a shrinking of labor supply as
workers became ill or stayed home out of fear or to take care of others who
were sick," CBO said.
CBO estimated those
who got ill and survived would miss an average of 3 weeks of work.
Under the severe
scenario, demand in many industries would drop by about 10%. Sales at arts,
entertainment, recreation and food services sectors would plunge by 80%.
Transportation services, such as air, rail and transit, would fall by 67%.
Demand for health care would rise by 15%, CBO said.
About 40 or
50 years ago it was joked that my city, Melbourne, was so boring that it was
virtually a ghost town. For example, there was the famous “quote” from Ava
Gardner, filming the movie “On the Beach” in Melbourne in 1959, that “’On
the Beach' is a story about the end of the world, and Melbourne sure is the
right place to film it." (It later transpired that a journalist had
manufactured that particular quote. Ava never said it.)
we’re about to become that way again if bird flu arrives. The headline in
our local Herald Sun newspaper says it all “Ghost
city plan to fight bird flu.”
[The state of]
Victoria will be locked down if bird flu strikes here, under radical plans
unveiled by the State Government. Melbourne would become a virtual ghost
town as sporting venues, concerts, churches, cinemas, the casino and other
areas were shut down.
Venues where "many people congregate" would be closed immediately if a case
of human-to-human bird flu happened in a public place in Victoria. The
Commonwealth Games would be cancelled if an outbreak happened before March,
and major shopping centres and public transport could also be shut.
Premier Steve Bracks
told the Herald Sun the State Government would be forced to ban people from
gathering in public places. "If a pandemic affected 30 per cent of the
Victorian population, estimates in the plan say this could lead to almost
25,000 hospitalisations and more than 10,000 deaths," he said.
10-year-old girl has reportedly tested positive for the H5N1 virus. It
would be only the country’s fourth official case of human infection.
– the World Health
Organization has confirmed the country’s eighth bird flu death.
Altogether, there have been 13 confirmed cases of human infection in
has declared its
state of emergency since 1991, following an outbreak of bird flu. The
country’s senior vet
has been sacked, for delays in responding to the problem. Locals say
birds have been dying since September.
officials have assured the world
report any bird flu outbreaks in the country. They say none have
occurred so far.
young Vietnamese girl, infected with mild influenza symptoms was given
Tamiflu, and subsequently developed a strain of the avian flu virus that was
highly resistant to the drug. Sixteen
South Korean drugs companies have
notified the Korea
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association that they can produce Tamiflu.
Twelve of them have already submitted samples.
– Michael Fumento provides a
round-up of the latest developments.