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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Threat Surveillance

First, the Toronto outbreak is almost certainly Legionnaire's Disease. The causative bacteria has been isolated from three different autopsies. Now they will administer preventive antibiotics to all the people who might have been exposed. That's good news, because that should mean that this will come to a rapid end.

Second, I think the threat to New York is genuine. It appears that Iraq will adopt its constitution (final draft posted in installments can be found here) and that means Al Queda loses. So the "freedom fighters" a la Beslan will have to try to strike against the US and any other western target they can find. It is not as if that batch hadn't just been arrested in France for a plot to bomb their subways.

Of course, DU knows differently. I can't bring myself to read the Kossites. According to DU, the only question is whether this was cooked up because the focus groups did not like Bush's speech this morning or whether it is to keep Karl Rove from being indicted or whether it is just that Bush wants to declare martial law:
12. No shit!
Must have got word back about the focus groups not buying the speech already!

27. If you're implying another..... MIHOP or LIHOP then I agree, there could quite possibly be something coming down the pipe. They're getting REALLY desperate now and they'll pull out all the stops to keep control of the government. Martial Law may be closer than we think.

25. Indictments by FRIDAY?-Rove:well, let's Terrorize NYC some more!

31. like we didnt see this comin a mile away.

i should just smack myself in the head, i only predicted it a hundred times here and elsewhere that the moment Rove gets close to indicted to bonafide indicted the terra alerts would be flyin. . along with "major" speeches about terra.
Your mileage may vary.

The Toronto thing is interesting- seems to me the Globe and Mail said it Legionnaires was ruled out.

I concur re NY. Irrespective of this threat, we're playing for time.

As for Kos, well, garbage in, garbage out.
They did say it was ruled out before, but isolating the pathogen in three different autopsies along with the clinical observations is a good indication.

It's possible that you had a viral infection on top of this, and that the people who got acutely sick were the ones who had picked up the Legionnaire's. This would explain testing showing what looked like some sort of a viral signature in combination with the illness. Also, older people with weaker immune systems don't always produce the type of antibody response that you would see in a younger, healthier person.

People don't realize how difficult medical testing can be. If you don't know quite what you are looking for, it can be a real wild goose chase.

Really it's doctors who narrow it down and labs that confirm. When something new hits and the doctors don't know, it's not like you can dump a cupful of blood into a machine and get a conclusive answer.
TY, MOM- I just learned something. I hadn't realized the other layer of complexity when a new viral infection is added to the mix.
The issue in Toronto is a marker for how we will confront an H5N1 pandemic flu situation. Epidemic situations are like 9/11 except in slow motion. They unfold over days and weeks. Poliltical leaders thus do not always understand when the stuff has hit the fan. The result is the loss of precious response time.

There is no easy public health answer because public health follows a medical model of lab confirmation.

These are genuine national security risks, and IMHO, we are not adequately prepared to deal with them.
Was watching Imus early this AM, and the smart New Yorkers think the entire thing is bullshit cooked up by Bloomberg for the election. Homeland Security thought so little of the "threat" info that they did not inform the NYPD. Bloomberg acted on his own and Homeland is scratching their heads.
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