San Diego Soliloquies

Monday, August 08, 2005

On the Horizon

Some philosophers try to distinguish homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom by positing that we are endowed with the concept of the future, we have the ability to think and plan ahead. Other philosophers point out that homo sapiens expends most of its sapience in proving that first gang wrong. Our most recent example? The flu, or, influenza, avian in its current origin:

We know it's coming:

    The avian influenza A (H5N1) epizootic outbreak in Asia is not expected to diminish significantly in the short term. It is likely that H5N1 infection among birds has become endemic to the region and that human infections will continue to occur. So far, no sustained human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus has been identified, and no evidence for genetic reassortment between human and avian influenza virus genes has been found; however, the epizootic outbreak in Asia poses an important public health threat.
    If these H5N1 viruses gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission between humans, there is little preexisting natural immunity to H5N1 infection in the human population, and an influenza pandemic could result, with high rates of illness and death.

We also know that there is very little we can do about it now:

    ...In addition, genetic sequencing of influenza A (H5N1) virus samples from human cases in Vietnam and Thailand shows resistance to the antiviral medications amantadine and rimantadine, two of the medications commonly used for treatment of influenza. This would leave two remaining antiviral medications (oseltamivir and zanamivir) that should still be effective against currently circulating strains of H5N1 virus.

Over the weekend there were some encouraging signs that we are beginning to have the start of a process that might yield a vaccine, but the flu season is coming soon. You need to think about the flu the same way Californians think about earthquakes, when it hits and for a long time afterwards, you are pretty much on your own. So start learning everything you can.

Start with the Flu Wiki. Use it to learn about what you can do for yourself and people around you. Stay informed, and start raising hell. We can control this if we all work together. I'm working to make sure all my clients can continue their operations from home, and helping to get the word out. You figure out what you can do.


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