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Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

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  • Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

    Speaker details dangers of avian flu

    'We will see bodies pile up,' physician cautions

    By John Mitchell, jmitchell@VenturaCountyStar.com
    September 22, 2006

    At the end of Dr. Michael Osterholm's presentation on an avian influenza pandemic to members and guests of the World Affairs Council of Ventura County, Jay Berger, the council's executive director, took the microphone.

    He thanked Osterholm for his talk, then added, "even though you scared the living bejeebies out of me."


    Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and associate director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Center for Food Protection and Defense, said a potentially deadly bird flu pandemic is coming.

    He doesn't know when or where it will land in the United States, but, he said, a serious effort should be mounted "right now" by federal, state and local agencies to prepare for it.

    "If the pandemic is caused by H5N1, the avian influenza virus strain currently circulating in Asia, it could kill as many as 1.9 million Americans and infect 30 to 60 percent of the population," he said, adding that H5N1 is the most powerful influenza virus detected in modern history.

    Osterholm told the approximately 150 people at Wednesday's dinner meeting in Westlake Village that H5N1 has many similarities to the H1N1 virus.

    That virus killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide in 1918-19, the National Institutes of Health says on its Web site. A report on a Stanford University Web site says about 675,000 of them were Americans.

    Currently, H5N1 can be passed from bird to animal to human, and the virus could evolve to a stage where it could be passed from human to human, Osterholm said.

    According to the World Health Organization, bird flu has infected 247 people since 2003 and killed at least 144 of them. United Nations and Nigerian health officials suspect Nigeria may be the first country in Africa to have bird flu casualties. A search is being conducted in areas where it is known that chickens live with families.

    For people who doubt the looming danger, Osterholm said, "I wouldn't bet my family's life that it's not going to happen."

    Currently, there is no bird flu vaccine, he said.

    "We're still using 1950s vaccine," he said. "Over the decades there has been only one major modification to it. And H5N1 vaccine research results generally have been disappointing.

    "We may be years away from a modern influenza vaccine with enough production capacity for the world."

    When the pandemic hits, what will it be like?

    "Imagine a 12-to-18-month global blizzard," he said.

    Osterholm said areas to be concerned about include worker and patient protection (from the virus), and medical devices and staffing.

    Even the dead will be contagious.

    "Corpse management, the handling of the dead and how we grieve, will be very important," he said.

    "We will see bodies pile up right here in Ventura County. You've got to start planning, locally, now."

    Individuals and families should stockpile a six- to 12-week supply of food and water in their homes, he said. Business and education areas must prepare to protect employees and students.

    Planning should cover quarantine, border closings, social distancing (such as working from home instead of the office), infection control and respiratory protection, Osterholm said.

    Also, the pharmaceutical industry should be encouraged to increase its medication inventory in pharmacies and other outlets.

    Otherwise, monthly prescriptions will not be filled.

    "There are many areas to be considered," he said.

    Before Osterholm's talk, Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks and Ventura County Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin addressed the pandemic issue.

    Brooks said his department is working with public health in planning for pandemic influenza, a smallpox outbreak, a chemical attack and a nuclear attack.

    The department also participates in the Public Health Bio Medical Advisory Council and in mass evacuation planning.

    It is also dealing with issues of providing security at vaccination sites; responding to public disorders because of a breakdown in the distribution of food or other critical shortage. Also, plans are being made on how to provide public services despite losing 30 percent to 40 percent of personnel to the flu virus.

    Levin said a critical part of his department's planning is to tell the public things may collapse around them.

    "That is where they come in," he said. "The antidote for closed grocery stores is a full pantry of dry and canned goods at home. The treatment for a power shortage is flashlights and radios that crank up or run on batteries."

    Levin recommended going to an American Red Cross Web site that has information on preparing for a disaster, which is at

  • #2
    Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

    Good article. Just sent this to some friends and family, most of whom are doing NOTHING to prepare, like pretty much the rest of the world.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

      unfortunately it seems people ignore such "unbelievable" comments...I don't know what it will take to get people to listen.

      -hawkeye

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

        What will it take..? When cases start breaking out in this country...they will start noticing and possibility of panic hits.

        Hey did you notice this LOVELY comment:

        Even the dead will be contagious.

        Suffice it to say this information is not making it to the unwashed masses.

        Remember hearing about a few cases a couple of months ago where people who attended funerals contracted the disease. Do you recall the 2 journalists that fell through the cracks..?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

          Yes and some funeral goers go sick as well, in one case they unwrapped the body.

          This thing marches on, I can almost hear the drum beat.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

            I read on another forum that the dead were not considered dangerous because they couldn't breathe out the virus. I see their point. I strongly suspect you would have to touch the body (of course someone does have to prepare this person for removal from the home) to become infected. Either that or touch their contaminated clothing.
            Please do not ask me for medical advice, I am not a medical doctor.

            Avatar is a painting by Alan Pollack, titled, "Plague". I'm sure it was an accident that the plague girl happened to look almost like my twin.
            Thank you,
            Shannon Bennett

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

              what ever happened to the journalists?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                Even the dead will be contagious.

                "Corpse management, the handling of the dead and how we grieve, will be very important," he said.



                It must be the handling that is a concern.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                  You mean the ones in China that disappeared a while back? Probably the same place where all those sick people that were rounded up door to door by the soldiers in the villages went...

                  Originally posted by PonyGirl
                  Do you recall the 2 journalists that fell through the cracks..?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                    The reporter who became ill was in Indonesia. He was covering a farm where there was an outbreak and they were culling birds. Then he attended a funeral for someone who had died of bird flu.

                    There have also been stories of others who were effected after attending funeral services but then you never knew if someone attending the funeral had the disease or they caught it from the deceased. creepy.


                    15.06 / 20:34 Journalist suspected of carrying bird flu virus

                    BANDUNG (WEST JAVA), June 15, 2006. KAZINFORM. A journalist working for a national daily, RES (30), is suspected of being infected with the bird flu virus and has been undergoing treatment at Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung since Wednesday.

                    RES was suspected of suffering from avian influenza flu after he had covered the funeral of Mastur, a bird flu patient, and a cull of poultry in Tasikmalaya, Dr Djatnika, vice chairman of the hospital's bird flu unit, said here on Thursday, Kazinform quotes ANTARA.

                    The Tasikmalaya-based journalist had high fever and a respiratory problem when he was admitted to the hospital at almost midnight.

                    His condition was currently getting better and his temperature had dropped to 38.9 C degrees while his blood pressure had risen from 100/70 to 131/73.

                    "We will take a sample of his blood for a laboratory check," he said.

                    Hasan Sadikin Hospital has so far treated a total of 45 bird flu patients, and some of them died.

                    Since July 2005, more than 50 bird flu affected people were found in Indonesia, and 37 of them died of the disease.

                    Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari has asked the public to watch out for the avian influenza (AI) virus by avoiding direct contact with poultry and keeping poultry out of their homes.
                    Last edited by Harriet; September 22, 2006, 06:45 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                      Commentary

                      Reporter Hospitalized in Bandung With H5N1 Bird Flu Symptoms

                      Recombinomics Commentary
                      June 15, 2006

                      the Spreading Reporter of the Time newspaper the Setiabudi Echo was treated in the Handsome Sadikin Hospital (RSHS), Bandung because of being suspected of being attacked by bird flu .Spreading that was assigned in Tasikmalaya, West Java was brought to RSHS, on Wednesday (14/6) around struck 23.00 WIB with the high and breathless fever complaint. The temperature of the Spreading body also achieved 39 Celcius levels. After doing the inspection, the doctor referred Spreading was treated in isolation space. Spreading felt the high fever was accompanied breathless since Saturday set and at that point he only underwent treated the road. However because the illness it was felt never will recover Spreading immediately was brought to RSHS. two weeks set, Spreading could cover the funeral of bird flu casualties and the extermination of the positive poultry was infected by bird flu.

                      The above translation indicates that a reported covering an earlier H5N1 bird flu case in Bandung has now developed symptoms and has been hospitalized with a high fever and breathing difficulties. Symptoms began on Saturday and hospitalization was on Wednesday.

                      There have been clusters of bird flu cases in Bandung as well as much of the region in western Java. In addition, nurses in the hospital in Bandung also developed symptoms. Initial tests on the health care workers were negative, but more reliable antibody tests could not be run until later in the month.

                      Although most reports mention some link with birds, the H5N1 isolated from patients have a novel cleavage site that does not match the bird isolates, raising questions about the origin of the infections as well as ease of transmission.

                      In the past, the clusters have generally involved family members with close contact to the index case or other family members. Confirmation of H5N1 in the reporter would indicate that H5N1 transmission was becoming more efficient, since poultry contacts would likely have been minimal.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                        From what I have read, it seems more the opinion of the journalist rather than those of Osterholm.

                        So, I will reserve my comments on this issue until I or you can find out if Osterholm made the statement or the journalist.

                        Snowy
                        Last edited by Snowy Owl; September 23, 2006, 12:06 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                          "Corpse management, the handling of the dead and how we grieve, will be very important," he said.

                          He is stressing how the dead are handled. This implies, in English, that he is concerned about the touching of the dead.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                            I just emailed the journalist.


                            J. -

                            Hi. I would like some clarification on your story regarding Dr. Osterholm's
                            visit to your area. Did he state that the bodies of "bird flu" victims
                            would be contagious after death?

                            Thank you.


                            </PRE>
                            Last edited by sharon sanders; December 6, 2006, 07:16 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Dr. Michael Osterholm details dangers of avian flu

                              For what it is worth, here is an excerpt from the US HHS pandemic plan -

                              http://www.hhs.gov/pandemicflu/plan/sup4.html#post
                              Section IV 8. Postmortem care
                              Follow standard facility practices for care of the deceased. Practices should include standard precautions for contact with blood and body fluids.
                              C R

                              Comment

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