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jerryking : epidemics   18

We can only tackle epidemics by preparing for the unexpected
MAY 28, 2018 | FT| Anjana Ahuja.

"[Chance] Fortune favors the prepared [mind]"

Other pathogens on the WHO’s hit list for priority research include Ebola and the related Marburg virus; Lassa fever; Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever; Mers coronavirus; Sars; Rift Valley fever; Zika; and Disease X.

Many of these are being targeted by the billion-dollar Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with a mission to develop “new vaccines for a safer world”. Cepi is backed by several national governments — including those of Japan and Norway — the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The coalition has just announced that, following events in Kerala, it will prioritise a Nipah vaccine.

Disease X, incidentally, is the holding name for a “black swan” — an unknown pathogen that could glide in from nowhere to trigger panic. Preparedness is not all about facing down familiar foes. It is also about being ready for adversaries that have not yet shown their hand. [expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form----Simon Kuper]
black_swan  catastrophes  chance  disasters  disaster_preparedness  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  panics  pathogens  preparation  readiness  unexpected  unknowns  viruses 
may 2018 by jerryking
Nathan Wolfe: No More Ebola Whac-A-Mole - WSJ - WSJ
Oct. 13, 2014 7:04

Ebola is not the first virus to threaten the world, and it won’t be the last. Stopping the current epidemic is vital, but the world can’t afford to go to sleep after it is stopped. Unless we prepare for the next epidemic, we will find ourselves forever nailing down outbreaks just in time to see the next ones pop up.
disease_surveillance  Ebola  pandemics  interconnections  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics  Congo  viruses  disease  surveillance  preparation  disaster_preparedness 
october 2014 by jerryking
What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola -

THE Ebola epidemic in West Africa has the potential to alter history as much as any plague has ever done.

There have been more than 4,300 cases and 2,300 deaths over the past six months. Last week, the World Health Organization warned that, by early October, there may be thousands of new cases per week in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. What is not getting said publicly, despite briefings and discussions in the inner circles of the world’s public health agencies, is that we are in totally uncharted waters and that Mother Nature is the only force in charge of the crisis at this time.

There are two possible future chapters to this story that should keep us up at night.

The first possibility is that the Ebola virus spreads from West Africa to megacities in other regions of the developing world. This outbreak is very different from the 19 that have occurred in Africa over the past 40 years. It is much easier to control Ebola infections in isolated villages. But there has been a 300 percent increase in Africa’s population over the last four decades, much of it in large city slums. What happens when an infected person yet to become ill travels by plane to Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa or Mogadishu — or even Karachi, Jakarta, Mexico City or Dhaka?

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.
Ebola  epidemics  viruses  flu_outbreaks  contagions  West_Africa  developed_countries  uncharted_problems  megacities  developing_countries 
september 2014 by jerryking
‘Spillover,’ by David Quammen, on How Animals Infect Humans -
Published: October 2, 2012

SPILLOVER: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
By David Quammen
587 pages. W. W. Norton & Company. $28.95.
Among these diseases, the devils we know are bad enough. Mr. Quammen also thinks determinedly about what he calls the NBO’s — the Next Big Ones. “Will the Next Big One come out of a rain forest or a market in southern China?” he asks. “Will the Next Big One kill” 30 million or 40 million people? He makes you dread that sneeze at the back of the bus.

Mr. Quammen, whose previous books include “The Song of the Dodo” (1996) and “Monster of God” (2003), is not just among our best science writers but among our best writers, period. (Check out his much anthologized short story “Walking Out,” about a father and son gone hunting, if you want a taste of his fiction.) That he hasn’t won a nonfiction National Book Award or Pulitzer Prize is an embarrassment.
books  pandemics  zoonotic  flu_outbreaks  epidemics  book_reviews 
october 2012 by jerryking
Six Months to Act: The SARS Epidemic
April 25, 2003 | WSJ | By DONALD S. BURKE.

Louis Pasteur, father of microbiology, wisely counseled that "Chance favors the prepared mind." For the moment, chance is on our side. But we have just six months to complete the job of the global eradication of the SARS coronavirus. After that, when the seasonal epidemic flares next year, it will be too late.
epidemics  HIV  viruses  SARS  seminal_moments  chance  preparation 
june 2012 by jerryking
What history can teach us about SARS
Apr. 14, 2003 | TIME |By Pete Davies .As scientists race to unravel the mysteries of SARS, one issue high on their agenda will be the likelihood that the new virus is a cross-species transmission in which the virus has mutated from its animal carrier so that it can infect humans, who have no immunity from the alien invader. The most obvious examples of this are HIV and influenza, and the latter disease has disturbing parallels with SARS. The flu virus lives usually in the stomachs of waterfowl, and the two are co-adapted — the birds don't get sick. It is widely believed among virologists, however, that with the domestication of ducks in southern China 2,000-3,000 years ago, flu jumped species.

This region has always had high densities of people living in close proximity to large populations of pigs and chickens. It's not known in which order, but with this ready pool of targets near at hand, flu has transferred from ducks to all three species — and once established, it can swap back and forth between its different new hosts with devastating effect. The virus survives and thrives by constantly mutating — so that just as our immune systems recognize and kill off one strain, a new one emerges against which our defenses don't work. Most are minor adaptations, the product of genetic "drift." Every now and then, however, something more dramatic occurs: a genetic "shift." Also termed "a reassortment event," this is the creation of a wholly new strain with genetic elements taken from viruses found in different species.
China  epidemics  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  viruses  flu_outbreaks  SARS  proximity  zoonosis  zoonotic  genes  HIV  influenza 
may 2012 by jerryking
From Ducks to Pigs to Humans? -
April 22, 2003 | WSJ | By STEPHEN MORSE.
SAR was not the first such outbreak, and it will not be the last. Before SARS, human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, rose from obscurity in the 1970s and '80s to become a global public health crisis, leaving millions of orphans in its wake. Outbreaks of ebola, of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in food and water have also appeared in recent years. And, of course, the flu still has surprises in store, such as the avian ("bird flu") strains that have infected humans in recent years.
epidemics  SARS  flu_outbreaks  HIV  influenza  zoonotic 
may 2012 by jerryking
Pandemics and Poor Information -
MAY 11, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by L. GORDON CROVITZ.
Whenever there's a threat of epidemic, alongside early deaths comes the casualty of information. Asian governments at least learned from their recent experience of bird flu and SARS the importance of not covering up outbreaks. The still open question is how to assess warnings that health professionals make based on inadequate information. Almost by definition, the risk of an epidemic occurs when the one thing disease experts know for sure is that they don't know for sure what will happen.
"What new information would be sufficient to change your decision?"

Alexander's question (AKA 'Dr. Alexander's question') is a question used to uncover assumptions and associations that may be confusing your judgment. Asking what information would be needed to change your mind can help bring faulty reasoning to light, and it can also point out what facts you should be researching before committing yourself and others to a course of action.

The uncertainty about the longer-term threat of the current swine flu is a
reminder that nature is more complex than mathematical models.Scientific
hypotheses can then be tested, but this approach has limits when it
comes to predictions.
"Alexander's Question," named for a physician who had posed a canny
question of his fellow experts: What information might make the group
change its mind about the need for immunization? Focusing on it would
have led to more focus on uncertainties: the trade-off between side
effects and flu, the difference between the severity of the flu and its
spread, and the choice between mandatory vaccinations and stockpiling in
case of later need. Decision makers should ask themselves what new
"knowns" would change their views.
pandemics  epidemics  risk-assessment  L._Gordon_Crovtiz  information_flows  information  decision_making  immunization  critical_thinking  uncertainty  assumptions  questions  Dr.Alexander's_Question  information_gaps  hidden  latent  facts  change_your_mind  problem_framing  tradeoffs  flu_outbreaks  side_effects  vaccines  stockpiles  information-poor  CDC  unknowns 
may 2009 by jerryking
Zoonotic Diseases
October 2007 Zoonotic Diseases | National Geographic | by David Quammen
National Geographic Contributing Writer
pandemics  zoonotic  epidemics  viruses  SARs 
may 2009 by jerryking
The Age of Pandemics -
MAY 2, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By LARRY BRILLIANT
Modernity--population growth, climate change and increased contact
between humans and animals--is causing more new viruses with pandemic
potential to jump from their traditional animal hosts to humans.
Brilliant outlines what the world needs to do to prepare.

Indeed, to the epidemiological community, the Influenza Pandemic of 2009 is one of the most widely anticipated diseases in history. ....The current pathogen creating the threat is actually a mixture of viral genetic elements from all over the globe that have sorted, shifted, sorted, shifted, drifted and recombined to form this worrisome virus.....Here's the good news: Compared with a few years ago, the world is somewhat better prepared to deal with pandemic influenza. There have been training meetings, table-top exercises, dry runs and preparedness drills at virtually every level of government and civil society. ......Here's the bad news: Today, we remain underprepared for any pandemic or major outbreak, whether it comes from newly emerging infectious diseases, bioterror attack or laboratory accident. We do not have the best general disease surveillance systems or "surge" capacity in our hospitals and health-care facilities......And there is worse news: The 2009 swine flu will not be the last and may not be the worst pandemic that we will face in the coming years. Indeed, we might be entering an Age of Pandemics........In our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, we will face a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs.....Bioterror weapons are cheap and do not need huge labs or government support. They are the poor man's WMD.....
21st._century  bad_news  bioterrorism  disaster_preparedness  disease  disease_surveillance  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  infections  influenza  man-made  modernity  pandemics  pathogens  preparation  sorting  surge_capacity  underprepared  viruses  zoonotic 
may 2009 by jerryking
Understanding Swine Flu -
APRIL 28, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by HENRY I. MILLER
disease  influenza  transmission  epidemics  livestock 
april 2009 by jerryking

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