Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pandemic hype

Yesterday, I started seeing the first articles saying that the bird flu may not turn into the global pandemic that was once thought. According to this CNN article, the US CDC is now stating that the change from the bird flu virus to a human-bird flu virus may not be that easy.
"We were not able to see efficient transmission from an infected animal to a healthy animal, " according to Dr. Jacqueline Katz, one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers working on the ferret experiments.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not minimizing the 134 worldwide deaths confirmed by the World Health Organization -- most of them in Indonesia and Vietnam.

But, is the tide turning on how worried the press is about this? Remember Y2K? This was supposed to have a worldwide effect that literally crippled the planet Earth. Did it happen? I don't think so. It can certainly be debated why. Maybe the world was prepared for it? Or, maybe it was just hype to scare everybody.

Is that what's happening now with this bird flu thing? Worldwide, there are literally millions and millions of dollars being spent for planning for a pandemic flu that may never happen. I'm definitely all for prevention whenever and wherever possible, but did a worldwide media fire storm put us down this path before the real facts were known?

9 comments:

wolfbaby said...

ya know this is what I'm doing my term paper on right?... the bird flu and Hiv viruses and vaccines......i figured thaat wouild be two good topics for plenty of info to cover seven pages LOL... thanks for the links!!!


BTW your funny dude:)

Moof said...

The media is in the business of selling hype. When there's nothing to get people excited over, people don't spend as much time watching the news ... reading the news ... visiting sponsors ...

While I think that preparation for a pandemic is not a bad idea, I've never really been overly concerned about bird flu.

That could be a problem, you know. I know a lot of people who've become disenchanted with the media. If the major media outlets continue to appear as if they're crying wolf, cynicism will grow ...

... and when the wolf does come ...

ladybug said...

oooh doc!
you may have just given me my topic for The Big Microbiology Paper i must do for my class.

we are supposed to start with an article on something related to something current.

hmph. tho i was just getting settled on doing HepC (tho i have no article to start with)

*tapping forehead*...*thinking*...

It's me, T.J. said...

For a flu virus to mutate from being contagious from one species and then to another takes quite a bit of time and is a long natural process.

It can definitely happen, and it does currently happen in nature. But I think that most of the flu viruses that mutate and go on to attack another species takes around 15 to 20 years. (I think it's something like that.)

So... while the MSM (mainstream media) is doing what they do best by hyping things up...

I guess maybe we won't be caught behind the 8 ball on this with the scientists already working on it now. Plus... it's possible that it could take less than 15 years for the bird flu virus to make a full transition to humans with how we travel everywhere these days and all.

I would say that it's a little bit of truth and hype blended together for a nice special effect.

later...

Anonymous said...

The study showing that a lab was unable to make a contagious strain of flu from engineered H5N1 + H3N2 is good news. However, reassortment of whole genes from different flu types is only one way for H5N1 to get a foothold. Point mutations or recombination are not considered in this study. Nature does take her time, but H5N1 was first sequenced in 1959.

Media hype is worthless, facts aren't.

QualicumRN said...

Hmmmmmm.....bird flu, asian flu, west nile virus. We hear it all....something to get excited about ...maybe....I like what moof had to say....it is a lot of hype from the media...and what is media...commodity and what is their job....to sell....and sell as much as they can...so if they keep talking about all these what if's people buy into it....they figure if the papers are going to be spending all the time and money publishing information on this there has to be something to it....so the pharmecuticals get on board and start pumping out drugs, and sprays and lotions and all sorts of stuff, then theres got to be something to it...right?...and if they are doing it..then well we should be concerned about it..and so on and so on and so on.....

the granola said...

I guess I was never really that worried about it.

But I don't think the millions are completely wasted - there is always knowledge we can gain. Perhaps this could help us have the organization we need when a nasty, deadly flu does turn up.

Americans have too much, we must find something to worry about. Something out of our control: health and natural disasters.

Wrkinprogress said...

Moof is so right about the media. My hubby calls it the "Be afraid! Be very afraid! And only we can tell you how to avoid the bad stuff! And you should buy our crap, so we can keep you afraid!" mentality.

Anonymous said...

This bird flu thing is resulting in mucho dinero for our state Department of Health to plan for an outbreak. This money is being used to improve current programs for real problems. So, thank you, bird flu.