Posts Tagged ‘epidemiology’

Human beings have been both fascinated and appalled by randomness. On the one hand, we love the thrill of a surprise party, the unpredictability of a  romance, the freedom of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. We abhor uncertainty’s dark side.  Terrorists attacks and accidents happen.  We never know if we’ll be that one in a million statistic to hit the lottery, get struck by lightening or contract some mutated virus like A/H1N1 Swine Flu.

If you live the the U.S. statistically it appears you have a better chance of catching H1N1 than in the other 74 countries the virus has been reported in.  According to  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124464616272602341.html#mod=rss_US_News  “Nearly half of the world’s confirmed swine flu cases, or 13,217, are in the U.S.”  The CDC has the numbers at about 14,000 confirmed or probable cases of swine flu. Overall, a small percentage of the population unless you are one of the 27 Americans who got the flu and died. http://www.cdc.gov/ The numbers are expected to rise as the CDC will updates it statistics tomorrow.

“On the basis of available evidence, the scientific criteria for an influenza pandemic has been met. I have therefore decided to raise the level of pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6, the world is now at the start of the pandemic,” Margaret Chan said.http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-06/12/content_11528799.htm  The start?  In the U.S., a public health emergency was declared April 26,2009. 

The World Health Organization http://www.who.int/en/  would have been negligent had they not made  it official, declaring a Phase 6 alert in response to the H1N1 swine flu virus .  Phase 6 is the WHO’s highest alert level and indicates an influenza pandemic is under way. 

This H1N1 variant is going after people with healthy immune systems.   It is spreading geographically and is unusual, continuing to spread during the start of summer in the northern hemisphere when normally flu viruses die off with warm weather.  H1N1 is proving to be a resilient little bugger.

Scienceblogs argues http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2009/06/swine_flu_lets_scrap_the_pande.php “Instead of revamping the alert system, WHO should consider scrapping it in favor of an up-to-date information system,” relying on globalization of information from the Internet.   Pretty ironic seeing as the WHOIS data base has not been updated for ’09. The author assumes that countries would actually be forthright and we know that Mexico waited weeks to tell the world.  “Suddenly, a whole village got sick somewhere, or young and healthy people fell ill”, said Larath Gollogly, a spokesperson at WHO in Geneva. http://genevalunch.com/2009/06/11/who-declares-phase-6-pandemic-in-ah1n1/  Suddenly! 

Andrew Rambaut of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and colleagues estimated the timescale of the development of the epidemic. They determined it was derived from several swine viruses and the initial transmission to humans occurred several months before recognition of the outbreak. “Despite widespread influenza surveillance in humans, the lack of systematic swine surveillance allowed for the undetected persistence and evolution of this potentially pandemic strain for many years,” the researchers said. The original article in Nature is available here as a PDF here http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vnfv/ncurrent/pdf/nature08182.pdf 




“The unsampled history of the epidemic means that the nature and location of the genetically closest swine viruses reveal little about the immediate origin of the epidemic, despite the fact that we included a panel of closely related and previously unpublished swine influenza isolates.”



In upping the designation to the highest level 6 the U.N. agency has covered it’s ass and reiterated what all the research points to, that “The virus is not stoppable,” she {sic Chan}  said. “I would advise them to maintain vigilance, enhance surveillance and be prepared for the arrival of the novel H1N1 in their country.”

Yes, we all want countries to be prepared as possible to contain the virus but, WHO has hasn’t ruled out that H1N1 could turn into a more virulent strain or affect different populations differently. Chan by stating that this is the start of the pandemic, issues a huge warning and again brings up the conspiracy that this H1N1 mutation may be man made, may be a race-specific bio-weapon and, at least according to experts at The Institute of Evolutionary Biology- they do not know its origin.    

“Genetic weapons capable of wiping out specific ethnic groups are no longer the stuff of science fiction, military and scientific advisers with the British and American governments have admitted,” states the report from  A 1999 UK Sunday Herald piece  http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4156/is_19990509/ai_n13937769/  The article, New Weapons of Ethnic Cleansing says, “Technology is now far enough advanced to give even small nations the ability to create so called “G-Bombs”, ethnically-targeted biological missiles with warheads tipped with plague or anthrax, designed to eliminate entire racial groups.”  Could a “G-Bomb” be inserted into a vaccine?

The report issued 10 years ago by the British Medical Association said that race-specific bio-weapons would be ready within 5 years- , “enabling governments to target victims solely on their genetic make-up.”  If you add together a number of different markers for different populations you can start to be specific to a target population,” said Nathanson.  Once a markers is identified, a virus could be designed to look for them on entering the body. It would scan the DNA of cells looking for markers and if it found them it would insert itself into the host DNA and start the process of infection.”

” G-bombs would use genetic markers specific only to particular races to trigger the virus – anyone without the genetic marker would be unaffected. Scientists could manipulate the structure of the plague virus to attack only a person who had a race-specific DNA code. One race- specific trait determined by genes is the body’s reaction to lactose. Asians and Europeans have different DNA markers determining lactose reaction. This kind of knowledge could be used to construct a virus which only attacks Asians, and could lead to a scenario where a plague- laced bomb dropped on a city would wipe out the entire Asian community but leave every white person alive.”  Is H1N1 a virus capable of scanning DNA cells looking for markers to start the process of infection?

“Advanced forms of biological warfare that can target specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool,” stated the September 2000 Rebuilding America’s Defenses report at http://www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf  released by the Project For A New American Century.  Who defines what race is no longer useful is apocalyptic to the entire human race.

The 1972 Biological Weapons Convention is supposed to prohibit offensive research, but there is little doubt that there is black box biodefense research going on not only the U.S., but by other countries as well. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction, also known as the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention or BWC, prohibits the development, production, stockpiling and acquisition of these weapons. The BWC thus supplements the prohibition on use of biological weapons contained in the 1925 Geneva Protocol.http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsp/biologic.html

Project Jefferson, was a covert 2001 U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency program designed to determine if the current anthrax vaccine was effective against genetically engineered-modified bacteria. After the program’s existence was revealed by the New York Times in 2001, the Pentagon announced that it intended to complete the project and that the results would be classified. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Jefferson 

Project Bacchus was a covert investigation by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency US Defense Department to determine whether it is possible to construct a bioweapons production facility with off-the-shelf equipment. In the two-year simulation, the facility was constructed, and production of anthrax-like bacterium was successfully completed. The participating scientists were able to produce about one kilogram of highly-refined bacterial particles.  The bacteria were milled to particle sizes of 1-5 microns with machinery bought on the open market in the US. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1449 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Bacchus.

Project Clear Vision was a covert investigation of Soviet-built biological bomblets conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute under contract with the CIA. Projects Jefferson, Bacchus and Clear Vision were the focus of the 2001 book Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War http://www.amazon.com/Germs-Biological-Weapons-Americas-Secret/dp/0684871580

H1N1 does not know borders and to date we are unclear of its origin.  The U.S. has pretty good sanitation and living standards, yet the highest numbers of cases so you would think the odds so far are in your favor.  Nope- the virus is more contagious than seasonal flu the Geneva-based WHO says.  In seasonal flu, each person who comes in contact with someone who’s sick has a 5 percent to 15 percent probability of illness, according to a statement posted the WHO’s Web site. In swine flu, the probability increased to 22 percent to 33 percent.

The World Bank in October noted that a “moderate” pandemic like the 1957 Asian flu could kill 14.2 million people and shave 2 percent from the global economy in the first year.  The odds are they will loose more than a few customers.

Related posts

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Open wide, say ahhh and check out these posts on the A/H1N1 Swine Flu from Ahrcanum, where the conspiracy spreads as fast as the virus itself .  Our disclaimer-Swine Flu Conspiracy theory can sometimes be triggered by real world events.  https://ahrcanum.wordpress.com/swine-flu-report/

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Flu maps look so pretty with all the colors.  My favorite is The Global Disease Health Map http://healthmap.org/swineflu.  It tracks everything from the seasonal and H1N1 Swine Flu to Chicken Pox, with only 8 cases reported.  Too bad every dot is disease. Rhiza Labs offers a map here http://www.swineflumap.us/.  Another here  http://swineflumaps.com/ , Pediatrics offers this http://pediatrics.about.com/od/swineflu/l/bl_swine_flu_map.htm, The Wall Journal Tracking map is here http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-SWINEFLUMAP0904.html, The New York Times map is here, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/04/27/us/20090427-flu-update-graphic.html cbcnews Canada offers http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/04/27/f-swine-flu-map.html

Whatever map you select, the numbers of H1N1 Swine Flu will vary by source; but Victoria, Australia  now has the highest recorded per capita rate of swine flu in the world and is being blamed for exporting the virus around Australia. It has the fourth highest number of infections worldwide after the US, Mexico and Canada, but the highest per capita load. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25603115-2862,00.html?from=public_rss.  Sydney, Australia is reporting Patient One.  Six-year-old Nicholas Darcy is the recipient of the first Australian “community transmission” of swine flu – catching the disease from someone with no known links to a host country or source.  http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25548525-5001021,00.html?from=public_rss NO KNOWN LINKS is a pretty scary prospect. 

While virus knows no borders, the number of new cases appears to be tapering off and I wonder if it is just the calm before the storm.  Previous flu outbreaks like H3N2  Hong Kong Flu, and the 1918 Spanish Flu had a tapering off period that led to full pandemic status. “New viruses sometimes arise late in spring, morph during the summer, and come back in the fall in a more virulent, severe strain says http://hamptonroads.com/2009/06/each-new-outbreak-medical-sleuth-case .

Epidemiology began in 1854, when London physician John Snow suggested removing the handle from a water pump after noting victims of a cholera outbreak had used it. 

While sanitation and science is much improved to prevent H1N1 Swine Flu, are we still only 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon and the concept of the small world phenomenon? You’ve probably heard of the Six Degrees concept. Any one person (including  Kevin Bacon) is connected to any other person through six or fewer relationships, because it’s a small world.  A world so small that Swine Flu has reached nearly every Continent, save Greenland and Antarctica. A six year old provides proof he was not six degrees away from the flu.


SixDegrees.org harnesses two important online trends: the exponential growth of social networks and the increasing interest in using the web for raising money for charity among family and friends. Through SixDegrees.org, people can upload their own photos and stories and fundraise for the charity of their choice with their own charity badges and AIM Pages.  http://www.sixdegrees.org/ Truly worthwhile.

The trend of previous illnesses asks if  the strain will mutate and change to become more virulent; is it becoming resistant to anti-virals like  Tamiflu? Who is getting sick and where? How old are the infected?  What is the the death rate and infection rate?  How do we begin to deal with a massive outbreak? 

No one is immune, even New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who traveled on Friday to Shanghai, China, on an economic development trip, was informed early Sunday that a passenger on the airplane in which he was traveling was confirmed to have signs and symptoms of an influenza-like illness, suspected to be of the H1N1 — or swine flu — subtype.  He is in precautionary quarantine. http://www.wdsu.com/news/19683611/detail.html

Trust for America’s Health, The Center for Biosecurity, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation teamed up publishing a review of  the initial response to the swine flu called Pandemic Flu: Lessons from The Frontlines http://healthyamericans.org/report/64/pandemic-flu-frontlines that outlines some basic procedural maneuvering.  It reviews 10 early lessons learned from the response to the H1N1 (swine) flu outbreak, 10 ongoing core vulnerabilities in U.S. pandemic flu preparedness, and case studies of challenges communities around the country faced when responding to the outbreak.

Experts predict a severe pandemic flu outbreak could result in up to 1.9 million deaths in the United States, approximately 9.9 million Americans needing to be hospitalized, and an economic recession with losses of over $680 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product says TFAH- Trust for America’s Health http://healthyamericans.org/pandemic-flu/.   Recent economic challenges will be nothing compared to a full blown Pandemic.

State and Federal officials in the U.S. are proposing  S. 1143, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-1143 a Public Health Workforce Act to to establish various programs for the recruitment and retention of public health workers and to eliminate critical public health workforce shortages in Federal, State, local, and tribal public health agencies and health centers.  I imagine this bills primary goal is make sure America has the people and resources to vaccinate to people with mass inoculations but in pure socialistic tendency, the bill “…may give hiring priority to any individual who has qualified for and is willing to execute a contract to participate in the Program.”  The private sector gets overlooked, yet again. 

Obama begins his world tour to promote socialized government Healthcare with his Organizing For America group.  Obama recently asked Congress for another $2 billion in supplemental funds to fight the novel H1N1 influenza epidemic, on top of $2 billion requested a month ago, and also proposed to tap federal economic stimulus funds for up to another $3.1 billion for the same purpose according to CIDRAP –http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/swineflu/news/jun0509funding.html 

Flu Wiki http://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=About.About shares flu knowledge support and extends information to advance both preparation for and the ability to cope with events as they unfold primarily without reliance on the government.

Sadly Alberta farmer Arnold Van Ginkel, whose swine farm was Ground Zero for the Influenza A (H1N1) in Canada voluntarily, culled all his 2,000 plus herd which was earlier quarantined by federal health authorities according to http://www.vitabeat.com/alberta-farmer-whose-swine-farm-started-influenza-a-h1n1-in-canada-culls-herd/v/10342/.  Again, so much for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, this was just One.

Lastly, one bit of good news, a new H5N1 recombinant vaccine virus has been developed by the WHO Collaborating Centerhttp://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/17890/new-recombinant-h5n1-vaccine-virus-available.   Influenza sequences are available in GenBank as soon as they are processed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genomes/FLU/SwineFlu.html .  Now if they can only identify how this all got started in the first place. 

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Open wide, say ahhh and check out these posts on the A/H1N1 Swine Flu from Ahrcanum, where the conspiracy spreads as fast as the virus itself .  Our disclaimer-Swine Flu Conspiracy theory can sometimes be triggered by real world events.  https://ahrcanum.wordpress.com/swine-flu-report/

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