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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Stuff And More Stuff

Sleepless In Sudan is a great blog written by an aid worker in Darfur. I strongly recommend it. Hat tip to Hootsbuddy, another great blog.

Blogging will be somewhat light because I am in the process of setting up the flu business continuity blog. It is a great deal of work. The events of the past week have made me shift my risk assessments upwards in several categories, so I have do redo the business impact part.

One extremely irritating feature of the media coverage is that it focuses on what might happen instead of what is happening right now. The news that a Qinghai strain of H5N1 had popped up in Romania and Turkey in areas associated with migrating birds effectively ended the theory that standard control measures could stop the spread of this virus. It is going global and it will be very lethal to domestic fowl in every area. This means that risks to the poultry and swine industries have shot right off the scale. That alone is a significant business impact risk for some banks and investors.

As to what may happen to humans, try The Coming Flu Pandemic (pdf) by a doctor. In only 34 pages it covers casuality estimates, a brief and instructive historical look at the 1918 pandemic, a summary of why you won't be able to expect much from medical authorities, and even provides home health care instructions and a list of supplies. Reading it should put you in the right frame of mind for all my boring instructions about how to control infection. The way to deal with a pandemic is not to get sick.

Remember this - antibody testing shows that half of the people who are infected with new flu strains never get clinically ill at all. This is related to how healthy they are and how much exposure they receive. That's why simple infection control measures such as handwashing, not touching your face, wearing glasses/goggles and wearing masks will be effective among the general population. And such measures will be VERY effective for those who use them.

The news that the public is not getting is that relatively low expenditures can provide extremely substantial measures of protection on an individual scale. Obviously each individual has a high incentive to reduce his or her own risks - so if we can get the news out quickly enough, we can also lower the societal impact dramatically.

I'm mor ewworried about round two than round one.

I have feeling we'll be lulled into complacency.
Well - animal infections pose a real economic risk now.
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