Bird Flu - Archives
May 1st - May 10th, 2006
Bird Flu Masks – Do We
NBC2 News in Florida reports on bird flu masks:
At Stuart's Liberator
Medical Supply Inc., sandwiched between the bras and toilet seats, sits a
mask that owners say could protect you from the next pandemic.
"The mask is designed
to seal to the face, provide an air-tight seal to the face which is the type
recommended by the Centers for Disease Control," said Liberator president
The Nano Mask claims
it's 95-percent efficient at filtering out viruses and bacteria.
Even though the avian
flu has not spread to North America, or even transmitted from person to
person, Liberator labels the "bird flu mask" ideal for home use.
"We liken it to a
fire extinguisher, it's too late to get one after a fire so why not have one
before a fire," said Libratore.
point to government web sites with lists of pandemic preparation tips:
stockpile food, washing your hands, but nothing about masks.
"If you go through
the lists there's no mention of going out and buying a mask. I think there's
no recommendation by the CDC for masks," said [Mark] Chittum [of the Martin
County Health Department].
Health officials say
if families start stockpiling masks and biohazard suits, they could reduce
the supply for the first responders who would need them most.
"We shouldn't be
getting people scared, we should be getting people prepared," said Chittum.
“Fatal Contact: Bird Flu
It screens Tuesday
evening in the US. Here’s some media commentary:
New York Times:
"Fatal Contact" is a
May sweeps movie, not a public service message, so it is hardly surprising
that it errs on the side of Armageddon.
Definitely a fright
film and not a very good one.
The film isn't as
stupid as NBC's 10.5: Apocalypse, a cheesy miniseries that arrives later
this month. The central problem is that Fatal Contact isn't convincing,
As bad as
disaster movies are likely to get.
well-made cautionary tale that's more than worthy of its sweeps scheduling.
the doctor ordered -- Dr. Frankenstein, that is. Who else would find it
entertaining to watch 25 million people drop dead as the result of a
fanciful worldwide plague?
The idea of the
''Fatal Contact" script, seemingly written during morning recess by Ron
McGee of ''Atomic Twister" un-fame, is that the human spread of the flu,
known as H5N1, would be bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. So bad that
''bad" doesn't even begin to explain just how bad it will be. And that's the
only idea here.
experts probably need not worry much about mass hysteria sparked by Fatal
Contact. After all, it's competing in a killer time slot and is likely to
meet its own end at the hands of something almost as infectious as bird flu:
Guaranteed to unnerve
even the most committed horror-genre fans. The film not only is
frighteningly topical but concise and well-acted enough to make one
seriously consider hoarding.
Don't panic. Despite
what you may have heard, you can't die from boredom.
Now and Then We Need
a Little Pandemic Threat
The US gets ready for Tuesday evening’s movie, “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu
in America.” A
Now and then we need
a little pandemic threat to ensure that we're sufficiently terrified.
The whole West Nile
virus never caught on, but now that we have the avian flu to worry about,
people don't seem to be paying much attention.
… This one isn't like
the cliche TV disaster movies that depict earthquakes or tornadoes somehow
taking down the Space Needle, the Las Vegas Strip and the Statue of Liberty
in one fell swoop.
This is about a virus
that some say could be unlike any we've ever seen, and all we know is that
we don't know how we're going to handle it.
The film starts with
an American businessman on a trip that takes him to a market in Hong Kong,
where he contracts the virus.
As he makes his way
back home to Richmond, Va., we see how he's potentially infecting virtually
every person he passes, including airport security, fellow airplane
passengers and, eventually, his family.
…This isn't the
feel-good movie of the year.
Pandemic Panic (Update)
Health and Human
Leavitt said on Sunday that the US is “overdue for a pandemic, but we're
Ali, the Asian Development Bank's chief economist, has warned that bird
flu is “one of the most underrated threats to Asia's fast-growing economies
and could wipe out over $300 billion of their gross output.”
American vets are concerned that Tuesday night’s tele-movie,
Contact: Bird Flu in America" will “cause unnecessary panic among the
public, leading to a destructive, harmful or unhealthy response."
May 8th, 2006
Oh, and Cover Your Mouth When You Cough
Time magazine summarizes the US government’s new pandemic report:
What can individuals
and businesses do? Wash your hands. Clean sinks, railings, keyboards and
phones--the virus can survive up to two days on hard surfaces. Reduce
face-to-face meetings. Encourage telecommuting as well as flexible work
hours. Keep 3 ft. of distance from other people ("spatial separation," in
governmentspeak). Oh, and cover your mouth when you cough.
More Bird Flu Humor
The Daily Show presents
Revenge of the Birds. And David Letterman's
opening monologue on Thursday night featured a string of bird flu jokes.
May 6th, 2006
Professor Elias Corey, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1990,
has devised a quick and easy method of making Tamiflu. You can read all
about it at this
May 6th, 2006
God Help Us
A bird flu expert says
the H5N1 virus is “the
worst flu virus he's ever encountered, and far too many gaps in planning
and knowledge persist for the world to handle it in the event of a
pandemic,” according to a report in the Washington Post.
The virus is a
vicious killer in poultry, moving into the brain and destroying the
respiratory tract, said Robert G. Webster, a virologist at the St. Jude
Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
"I've worked with flu
all my life, and this is the worst influenza virus that I have ever seen,"
said Webster, who has studied avian flu for decades. "If that happens in
humans, God help us."
So far, most human
cases have been linked to contact with infected birds, but experts fear the
virus will mutate into a form that easily spreads from person to person,
potentially sparking a global pandemic.
Webster predicted it
would take at least 10 more mutations before the H5N1 virus could
potentially begin spreading from human to human, but said there's no way to
know when - or if - that will ever happen.
“The Hurricane Cannot Be
Kept Offshore “
White House has released its
National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. Some comment from an
The incremental plan
already was drawing complaints that despite months of dire talk about the
threat of a pandemic, the administration hasn't accomplished enough.
"Other nations have
been implementing their plans for years, but we're reading ours for the
first time now. These needless delays have put Americans at risk," said Sen.
Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
…The main defense:
Screening travelers from affected countries and diverting or quarantining
flights that arrive with possibly ill patients aboard.
But people can spread
the flu for a full day before they show symptoms.
Trying to meet and
quarantine lots of planes, "I'm dubious, No. 1, that just physically that's
feasible. And, No. 2, I frankly wonder exactly what degree of effectiveness
can be expected by that," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt
University, an adviser to the government on flu vaccine.
understand that "the hurricane cannot be kept offshore," he added.
Stop Worrying – For the
A bird flu expert doubts
H5N1 virus will hit the US this year, at least not from migratory birds.
The smuggling of infected birds presents a greater threat, he says. However:
"If it doesn't come this year, don't relax, because it will eventually
Bird Flu Pandemic –
Forget about the Internet
Yesterday I reported
(scroll down) on a Citigroup analysis of stock market winners and losers
from a bird flu pandemic. Two “winning” sectors – telecommunications and
internet technology companies, as workers are forced to stay at home and
But an “Influenza
Pandemic Simulation” from Booz Allen Hamilton (pdf file) suggests
telecommunications infrastructure will be severely strained and likely
overwhelmed early in the pandemic (some experts opined that the internet
would shut down within two to four days of the outbreak). This implies that
government and businesses must coordinate and plan for the use of
alternative communications channels – telecommuting will not be a viable
option. A prioritization scheme for the internet will need to be put in
place so that key organizations and individuals can access information and
communicate actionable steps.
China (Again) Denies
Bird Flu Under-Reporting
China is once more being
forced to defend its
bird flu count, following new reports that it is seriously
under-reporting the number of cases of human infection. Given China’s
record, this is a story that is going to run and run. I’ve written about
this a number of times before,
here – just keep scrolling down.
Bird Flu Winners and
The Chicago Tribune
carries a lengthy report, titled “Wall
Street placing bets on bird flu outcomes,” on stocks to buy and sell in
the event of a bird flu outbreak. It evaluates the sectors as follows, based
on research from Citigroup:
Drug companies that
make antiviral medicines
Drug companies that
Hospital health care
Major oil firms
Mining and metals