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Bird Flu
Old 11-17-2006, 01:05 AM   #1
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Bird Flu

I'm normally NOT a person easily alarmed or a hypochondriac.

I read a book about 10 years ago about viruses - how they mutate and propgate. It covered AIDS, Ebola, and...flu. Once I read this book I've never been so sanguine about flu. The 1918 pandemic was pretty scary.

When I read about bird flu (current fatality rate ~50%) it is scary as well. On an average pandemics occur about every 30 years for flu. Flu tends to mutate to significantly different variants on about this time scale and this has been going on for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years. The last major variant was the Hong Kong flu in 1968. It was fairly mild as flu mutations go. We are now about 8 years past average duration for a major mutation.

The worst case would be a mutation in the current bird flu that became easily transmissable by air - coughs, sneezes, etc. This has not yet occurred.

On one hand it is easy to assume that since nothing very serious regarding flu has happened in my lifetime, I shouldn't find bird flu very worrisome. Yet if I consider a near worst-case scenario, I'd put flu higher than anything except other personal/family health issues as the #1 threat to my successful retirement (hopefully starting in a few years). The potential disruption to society if even 10% of the population was to die would probably outpace terrorism, a nuclear warhead in NYC or WA DC, etc.

Rich, what's your perspective as a medical professional?

To others, what preparations (if any) have you made for this possibility?
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-17-2006, 07:09 AM   #2
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Re: Bird Flu

No idea. As you say, could be very bad if even 10% affected or it could all blow over with nary a fizzle.

If a safe and effective vaccine is developed (likely), I'd wait in line for it.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-17-2006, 02:48 PM   #3
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Re: Bird Flu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfdaddy
To others, what preparations (if any) have you made for this possibility?
Spouse spent several weeks working at PACOM HQ as they fine-tuned their "pandemic influenza" planning.

Keep a couple weeks' food on hand, hunker down at home, wash your hands frequently, wear a cotton nose/mouth mask if you must interact with others, stay hydrated, and wait for the wave of infection/transmission to pass.

And don't kiss any chickens (although this didn't make it to the final version of the PowerPoint briefing).
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-17-2006, 02:54 PM   #4
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Re: Bird Flu

Surfdaddy, you're such a chicken!
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-17-2006, 10:09 PM   #5
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Re: Bird Flu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Spouse spent several weeks working at PACOM HQ as they fine-tuned their "pandemic influenza" planning.

Keep a couple weeks' food on hand, hunker down at home, wash your hands frequently, wear a cotton nose/mouth mask if you must interact with others, stay hydrated, and wait for the wave of infection/transmission to pass.

And don't kiss any chickens (although this didn't make it to the final version of the PowerPoint briefing).
I've heard at conferences that we should plan to hunker down for 6-8 months after the first wave, because vaccine development, distribution and increased herd immunity will take that long to work their way through the population. Another consideration will be that all services should expect to be functioning without 1/3 of their workers. Parents will be sick and unable to look after their kids, etc, etc. Schools will be closed; public transportation and the economy in general will slow down. Hospitals will be overwhelmed. Many patients will be ventilated. Some difficult triage decisions will have to be made. And as for elective surgery......I don't think so!

On another note.....there is evidence that alcohol based hand sanitizers are at least as effective as handwashing, if not more so, in reducing the transmission of infection. That is, provided they are used.

Meadbh, MD
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-18-2006, 09:14 AM   #6
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Re: Bird Flu

We pass around bottles of those hand sanitizers at work too.

They also are at the gym where I go and I am getting better at remembering to use it liberally after using the equipment.

Of course, you can also get colds and the flu transmitted through the air. I am not about to go around wearing a mask.
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Re: Bird Flu
Old 11-18-2006, 09:35 AM   #7
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Re: Bird Flu


We've discussed bird flu once or twice here, I think our longest discussion was at the link below.

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=8157.0


I'm in the "it might happen, and if it does it will be nasty" camp. I think it makes sense to think about what you'd do, what you'd need, how you could be of assistance. Then, dothe small stuff that might make a big difference in the unlikely event that things turn bad. It doesn't cost much now to buy some N95 masks, a jug of that hand sanitizer stuff, and to put some food on the shelf (or just keep the pantry stocked at a high level).

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