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Thread subject: Rebuff to bird flu "pandemic" by evolutionary epidemiologist
Name Date Message
cathleen 11/05/05 05:20 pm Expert on infectious disease evolution, Paul Ewald puts the kabosh on the chances of a bird flu pandemic in his responses here.


Celeste 11/06/05 07:02 am Interesting Cathleen.....nice to hear good news for a change.
Cecilia 11/06/05 08:34 am Thanks Cathleen...
Anne 11/06/05 12:30 pm Nevertheless there has been another death in Indonesia today, and the nurse looking after the patient has caught it now. My understanding of the 1918 pandemic is that the virus followed trade routes, surfacing first in ports and then spreading to other places in each country.
Melanie 11/06/05 01:56 pm I’ve read several of Paul Ewald’s writing on epidemiology – for those not familiar with him, until recently he was a professor of Biology at Amherst College, very highly regarded, and developed some new, well received theories on the genetic evolution of infectious diseases. However well received, though, they are still considered fairly new concepts and have yet to be embraced by the medical research community as fact. This is not to say he won't be proven right, but only time will tell that.

The 1918 influfenza outbreak had probably more to do with military movements in WWI than trade routes. Indications are that "Ground zero" was Ft. Reilly, Kansas - an army base in the dead center of the U.S. which is far from being a trade route. The 1918 flu was responsible for more than half the military casualties and has often been credited for hastening the end of the War - too many soldiers were dying on both sides to continue fighting. The generals just didn't have the manpower. Non-military related outbreaks were still in areas of foreign military presence.

I was a lab tech/medic in the Air Force and civilian world for 15 years so I have an appreciation of how this can develop and spread. A few years back they actually dug up an Alaskan woman who died of the "Spanish flu" and has been preserved in the permafrost. They have been doing genetic studies on the virus and have found the only real significant difference at the moment between H5N1 and the 1918 flu is that H5N1 has yet to make the genetic jump to easy transmissibility.

H5N1 may yet mutate either way, into either a more or less lethal or non-human infectious versions, just as Ebola has evolved into e. Reston and e. Marburg, but that's a crap shoot. Given the facility of world travel today, I would prefer to err on the side of caution. I work with people who say "oh, but our immunity and medical treatments are so much better than they were in 1918, but when the body is confronted with something new and there is no existing antibody buildup to provide an initial response, we could really be in the soup
Marie 11/06/05 09:10 pm One has to always be cautious however one has to be reasonable knowing full well that the Pharmaceutical Companies stand to make billions at times like this. These companies CONTROL much in health care and market drugs at enormous costs. Quite unnecessary too .The media loves to embellish and create a climate of fear. ONe has to hear both sides of the argument and then make an informed decision. Remember Aids was going to wipe out millions all over the world. THe media had a hay day with that one. Unfortunately Aids remaines the scourge of Africa and there are many reasons why it is so bad there. THere is a program right now on TV and why Aids continues at its present rate in Africa...most enlightening.
We can only hope that MAN can accept some of the blame for these virus's that suface from time to time and look at different farming practices. The present way we do business is less than desirable when we look at the food industry. The spread of virus's between the animals/birds that are so closely packed into confined spaces is a real menace. This situation only creates the right environment/climate where virus's can mutate and florish. It is not only prudent to address the infections once they are established and take hold but also there is a need to look at how and why these things start in the first place. There are fundamental reasons that create just the right conditions for new virus's to emerge. It is this area that much focus, money and education needs to be directed, but would that be PROFITABLE for large corporations? Hardly!
We need to look at the BIG picture, we need to look at the Source.
Just my opinion...
Thanks for allowing me to share my views.
You don't have to agree.

Copyright © 2006 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 18, 2006