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March 28, 2006

BehindTheMedspeak: H5N1 — You'll want to get familiar with these letters and numbers because they're going to turn the world upside–down (maybe)


No — H5N1 is not a British or Canadian postal code but, rather, the bird–flu strain whose mention in all the major newspapers of the world more or less daily now heralds something very, very bad (maybe).

Some scientists say 20% or more of the world's population could die in a pandemic; others say no way.

For a historical perspective, consider the 1918 influenza pandemic: one–fourth of the U.S. population and one–fifth of the world's people became infected; 20–40 million around the world died.

Guess what?

You know as much about the likelihood of such a thing happening as any of the so–called experts.

Because when it comes to the future it's just like in Hollywood, in the legendary words of screenwriter William Goldman ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men," "The Princess Bride," et al): "Nobody knows anything."

But you will want to memorize that viral strain — H5N1 — because if/until and after a human pandemic strikes you're going to become as familiar with it as you are with your social security number.


A few good resources: here, here, here, here and here.

Let us pray — because science sure won't save us from this one.

Every day brings news of the virus in more countries.

Money and class cannot protect you.


Luck, be a lady tonight.

March 28, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink


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The CDC also has a useful avian flu page - with information for providers and the public: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/

And so does the Infection Diseases Society of America: http://www.idsociety.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Resources/Avian_Pandemic_Flu/Avian_Pandemic_Flu.htm

CIDRAP tracks the news about the avian flu daily: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/avianflu/index.html

And, last but not least, the official U.S. pandemic and avian flu Web site reports confirmed human cases and has planning tools and checklists for providers, businesses, schools, goverment entities, the public, etc.: http://pandemicflu.gov/

Posted by: Shawn Lea | Mar 28, 2006 3:27:52 PM

I've come to a peace within myself on my inevitable death.

I've been born too soon for the nanobots to be invented which will repair my dna, rid my bloodstream of harmful bacterii, virii, and parasites. My son will probably live as long as he wishes to, in the body which his mother and I (and God/Nature) provided.

I'm still too early for the singularity.

Perhaps the quantum me will live on and know it (be able to remember and know myself).

I'll just have to keep living and see what happens.

I agree with you Joe. This one is very real and unfolding in real-time.

Posted by: mattp9 | Mar 28, 2006 3:09:39 PM

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