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BBBCanada

Avian Flu

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Should we be concerned or is this another Y2K, anthrax and SARS? I must say that I can't get away from thinking this is more fear-mongering from the media.

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It's one of those things that will be defined by hindsight.

If avian flu does become a pandemic, then the media won't have covered it enough to warn the populace. If it doesn't, then it will be fear-mongering.

Actually, if I'm really going to frame it that way, then I reckon we might as well call it fear-mongering and nothing else, because if they're not going to cover it enough to warn everyone then hey, they're just covering it *enough* to spike ratings...

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Ummm...here's my thing. As far as I'm concerned the news media does EVERYTHING for ratings. And just as male/female books do not really sell unless you highlight differences between the sexes (Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) the news media NEEDS to heightened doom and gloom.

Which is to say that I don't see that the public is not aware of avian flu. I think the media HAS DONE it's job. But how much have you heard of any vaccines to the flu and whether they can cure or stave off the virus to one degree or another? Probably not as much as you have heard that a billion people are most likely going to die leaving parts of major metropolitian cities "ghost towns."

Good-bye cruel world.

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If you think the media has done it's job, why do you accuse them of "fear-mongering"? Unless you mean their job *is* to be fear-mongering...

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If avian flu does become a pandemic, then the media won't have covered it enough to warn the populace. If it doesn't, then it will be fear-mongering.

Are you saying that the media will be to blame if it becomes a pandemic???

It's not the news media's fault if it becomes a pandemic! It becomes a pandemic because people did not vaccinate against it for whatever reason (aside from being uninformed).

How do we know about Avian flu? The news media. Therefore the news media has done it's job. What I'm asking is, are the news media catering to fear-mongering by saying that a billion people will most likely die (55% of people infected die from it) and that parts of major metropolitan cities will become "ghost towns" because they do this EVERYTIME some real or percieved crisis is at hand.

Where is a Sage when you need one? huh.gif

Edited by BBBCanada

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FWIW, the way I hear it, Y2K really WAS a significant concern, but the widespread awareness of it -- raised, in part by the media -- helped to get the right people's butts in gear, so that they did what was necessary to make sure the predicted problems did not occur. Naturally, as a result, everyone assumes there was nothing to get so excited about in the first place. But there was, they tell me, there was.

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FWIW, the way I hear it, Y2K really WAS a significant concern, but the widespread awareness of it -- raised, in part by the media -- helped to get the right people's butts in gear, so that they did what was necessary to make sure the predicted problems did not occur.
Edited by BBBCanada

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FWIW, the way I hear it, Y2K really WAS a significant concern, but the widespread awareness of it -- raised, in part by the media -- helped to get the right people's butts in gear, so that they did what was necessary to make sure the predicted problems did not occur.

This is what I like to call the Jonah Effect. You know something bad is going to happen, so you scream about it and warn people, all the while expecting them not to listen, but then they listen and take action, averting disaster. Meanwhile you sulk because you fully expected something terrible to actually happen... Strange creatures, humans.

My uncle is a spokesperson for the CDC in Nashville, and he seems to think that while things certainly could be bad (if proper precautions are not taken) they are in no way absolute. In other words, doom [brought on by avian flu] is not imminent.

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They don't know how bad it is going to be until it actually happens, then they guesstimate.

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I have a question that is never addressed on TV.

What about song birds? And hummingbirds that migrate thousands of miles each year?

I've only seen pictures of infected chickens and ducks.

Will our "backyard birds" be involved and possibly a threat to us?

Our family loves feeding the birds, and our neighborhood is filled with bird feeders of every discription.

What have you heard about the possibility of the little birds being infected and carrying the avian flu?

Sara

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FWIW, the way I hear it, Y2K really WAS a significant concern, but the widespread awareness of it -- raised, in part by the media -- helped to get the right people's butts in gear, so that they did what was necessary to make sure the predicted problems did not occur.  Naturally, as a result, everyone assumes there was nothing to get so excited about in the first place.  But there was, they tell me, there was.

There may have been a problem at some point, but the real fear mongering that went on was in the last few months when it was too late to do anything, warnings of planes falling out of the sky, warnings to stock up on food (and the resultant empty supermarket shelves etc).

Besides, the story that ran largely seemed to be that people had been saying about this, and that no-one had listened in time, and that as a result there wasn't enough time / people to fix all the problems in time, so as much as I agree with some of your point (that the "Jonah" complex exists), I remain cynical about the millennium bug.

And does Jonah mark God out as a fear monger?

Also there are numerous other stories that are fear mongering and nothing gets done about and ...suprise... nothing happens. We get killer bees stories and the like over here all the time, yet somehow they never descend.

Thus far, 60 people worldwide have died of this thing in a year or something, or about as many people as die on the roads in the UK alone in just six weeks, or as many people as die of poverty across the world in 3 minutes. That puts some perspective on it for me.

Matt

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And does Jonah mark God out as a fear monger?

Huh? I never said God was a fear monger. I was referring to Jonah's attitude when he found out that God was going to spare Nineveh. In Jonah's mind, devistation was inevitable, but in reality it wasn't.

I was just using it as an example of that strange self-destructive way of thinking. How did you feel when midnight struck on New Years Eve during the Y2K scare and nothing happened? I know lots of people who were disappointed. The media builds something up, and when God spares us, it's "anti-climactic". That's all I'm trying to say.

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Sorry, I was just being facetious - it was just a wry comment really

On a more serious note I do find that particular text quite key in the openness of God debate (which has been gone into elsewhere)

Matt

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A Flu Hope, Or Horror?

While official Washington has been poring over Harriet Miers's long-ago doings on the Dallas City Council and parsing the byzantine comings and goings of the Patrick Fitzgerald grand jury, relatively unnoticed was perhaps the most momentous event of our lifetime -- what is left of it, as I shall explain. It was announced last week that U.S. scientists have just created a living, killing copy of the 1918 "Spanish" flu.

This is big. Very big. . . .

Which brings us to the second element of this story: Beyond the brilliance lies the sheer terror. We have brought back to life an agent of near-biblical destruction. It killed more people in six months than were killed in the four years of World War I. It killed more humans than any other disease of similar duration in the history of the world, says Alfred W. Crosby, who wrote a history of the 1918 pandemic. And, notes New Scientist magazine, when the re-created virus was given to mice in heavily quarantined laboratories in Atlanta, it killed the mice more quickly than any other flu virus ever tested.

Now that I have your attention, consider, with appropriate trepidation, the third element of this story: What to do with this knowledge? Not only has the virus been physically re-created, but its entire genome has also now been published for the whole world, good people and very bad, to see. . . .

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, October 14

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We've talked about flus and vaccines before, but darned if I can find the thread. This one is easier. The real danger is Congress and the FDA:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/weekend/hottopic/?id110007444

"....When one pharmaceutical company offered to sell a new pneumococcal vaccine to the government for $58. a dose, the Center for Disease Control demanded a $10.-a-dose discount. Politicians want companies to take all the risk of developing new vaccines, but they don't want the companies to make any money for taking those risks. Then the politicians profess surprise and dismay that there is a vaccine shortage...."

Once again the Wall Street Journal seems to be the only media outlet stressing the decline in the number of vaccine mfr.s, down to ONE, apparantly, for avian flu. And explaining some of the reasons why.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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The Daily Show's take on the bird flu ... "Well, the chickens can always turn into soup and drink themselves..."

My first post and you made me smile already..

While we're on the subject...perhaps some clever Hollywood producer will come out with a spoof about the Avian flu..

Here's the title..

" One flu over the Cuckoo's nest "

Gramm wink.gif

Edited by Gramm

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Thus far, 60 people worldwide have died of this thing in a year or something, or about as many people as die on the roads in the UK alone in just six weeks, or as many people as die of poverty across the world in 3 minutes. That puts some perspective on it for me.

It's the percentage of fatalities that's alarming, though - only 117 people have been infected, yet 60 have died, making it a better than 50 percent fatality rate.

That said, this Los Angeles Times op-ed puts it in a different, less bleak perspective - essentially saying the 1918 pandemic was intensified by World War I's Western Front, which she calls a "disease factory," and that the rate of infection would likely be much lower if it happened again today. Who knows how accurate this is, but it's a little more comforting than all the scare headlines we've been reading.

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: It's the percentage of fatalities that's alarming, though - only 117

: people have been infected, yet 60 have died, making it a better than

: 50 percent fatality rate.

Alarming possibly, but that's still a tiny number of ftalities thus far.

Plus there are two sides to every story. The high mortality rate could reduce the rate at which the disease spreads, as people might die before they are able to infect others - although there are lots of factors to play in that.

FWIW Britain has just had it's first bird die of Bird Flu - albeit one in Quarantine - that's why we have that system.

Matt

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The high mortality rate could reduce the rate at which the disease spreads, as people might die before they are able to infect others - although there are lots of factors to play in that.

True. A quote from Wendy Orent's piece in the L.A. Times touches on that:

But the 1918 pandemic strain was different. According to evolutionary biologist Paul W. Ewald of the University of Louisville, its lethality evolved in the trenches, the trucks, the trains and the hospitals of World War I. Infected soldiers were packed shoulder to shoulder with the healthy, and even the deadliest virus can jump from one host to another. The Western Front was a disease factory, and it manufactured the 1918 flu. The packed chicken farms of Asia are a close parallel. H5N1 evolved the same way as the 1918 flu did in the trenches.

We don't know what will happen to H5N1 as it moves through Europe. It is certain, though, that the longer it lives in wild birds, the more likely it will become mild, at least for its wild-bird hosts. This is what happened to the 1918 flu after soldiers abandoned the Western Front. In just over a year, the virus lost its virulence and wandered the planet as an ordinary flu.

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So ... should we all start drinking breast milk to keep from getting the avian flu? Apparently, Chloe hasn't read much about past pandemics, which were so devastating because they were able to attack the young and healthy, immune systems be damned. And I'd bet most of the victims of the 1918 flu had been breast-fed. But I suppose she's trying to make some ill-advised plug for animal rights with that statement.

Ken, that quote reminds me of a thread I thought of starting once about stupid, uninformed things that actors and artists say when trying to pander to their politically correct activist buddies. (Not to tool on actors and artists in general - just when they try to play to their own choir of peers by making pronouncements on topics they are ill-equipped to talk about, such as this example.)

My inspiration for that thread was Chloe's Boys Don't Cry co-star, Peter Sarsgaard, who said in an interview around the time Kinsey came out, that nothing in the world is scarier or more destructive than Catholicism. Not religious extremism in general, not theocratic dictatorships, not genocide or thought control or "group think" or corporate greed or man's inhumanity to man ... but specifically, Catholicism. Bad Catholicism. BAD!!

(I realize criticizing actors for stuff like this is the old shootin' fish in a barrel scenario, so I'll shut up now.)

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What, me worry?

OK, time to resurrect this thread. I need some reassuring.

Some experts are predicting this thing will mutate by year's end, with a 50 percent human mortality rate. Half the population. Half our families. Half our friends. Ten years ago I would've said, "boy that sucks, but God will provide." While I still believe God will provide, now I've got kids, and this is one scary-ass scenario.

In my professional life, I'm exposed to people in all sorts of research fields. One virologist predicts (relatively optimistically) the flu won't mutate into a human contagion for at least another year, maybe more, giving us enough time to develop effective vaccines.

Still. Half the population. And according to the story above, the U.S. "expects" to have 26 million doses of the Tamiflu vaccine ready by the end of this year. That would maybe protect less than 9 percent of the U.S. population. Maybe, because there's no assurance the vaccine will effectively fight H5N1.

Someone tell me this is just sci-fi. Someone tell me the good guys will develop the right vaccine in time and casualties will be minimal, or nil. Someone reassure me.

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I heard a dissenting report on the radio this morning -- and by strange coincidence, that story was linked right beside your post as I was reading it:

Ads by Goooooogle

Bird Flu

Get a Canadian perspective with up-to-the-minute reports.

cbc.ca

The link directly to the story is here.

My own view is that there are several serious health issues brewing, and the 'super-bug' is potentially bigger than avian flu. However, I have kept some of the Y2K books, brochures and articles at home as a reminder that hype sometimes obscures reality.

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What, me worry?

Some experts are predicting this thing will mutate by year's end, with a 50 percent human mortality rate. Half the population.

Don't know how reassuring this is, but doesn't this just mean that of the people that actually catch this, 50% will die? Not that 50% of the US population will die.

Stock water--4 gallons/day per person for 10 days. Luckily I still have my dad's leftover Y2K stash.

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* As noted above, a "fifty percent mortality rate" means that fifty percent of those who contract it will die, NOT that fifty percent of the population would die. That's a much lower mortality rate than current infections indicate, probably becuase of increase vaccination and other factors in the U.S.

Excellent point, and I knew this when I first heard the 50 percent figure, but it mutated (!) into a much higher figure in my brain as the coverage has continued. Nitpicky point, but ... of 177 humans infected so far, 98 have died, which is slightly higher than 50 percent (55.4 percent, to be exact).

* Yes, the Western Front in WWI was a disease incubator, but the amount of urbanization and overall travel in the world today is much, much higher--including hours at a stretch cooped up (*cough*) in sealed airplanes, or in offices.

True again.

I am somewhat concerned, mainly because I have a point of vulnerability: a young child.

Yes, yes, yes. My point exactly.

This issue is a far greater likelihood than Y2K. But, to clarify: the issue isn't whether the bird flu reaches the U.S. It's whether it mutates into a human-to-human form.

Right. And not to sound like a panic inducer, but most experts in the field agree it's only a matter of when it mutates; that leaves the uncertainty of whether we'd have effective vaccines manufactured, and ultimately how quickly the thing loses its virulence.

If this flu thing were coming around in 1999, I guarantee you that the church would hype it up to Armagaeddon.

Heh, great point!

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