Bird Flu Pandemic: Five Basic Questions

These are questions that I am attempting to resolve for myself. To cut a long story short, I believe that it is appropriate to put the probability of a pandemic within a year at 20%. The view of essentially all virologist and epidemiologists is that an H5N1 pandemic is definitely a "when" situation rather than an "if" situation.

Here, by pandemic, I mean a pandemic of the order of the 1918 (H1N1) pandemic that killed more than 40 million people worldwide. The H5N1 pandemic that is expected now could conceivably be less lethal, but current thinking is that it is just as likely to be more lethal. For those afflicted, the experience will not be much different than in 1918. The healthcare system will be non-functional almost from the beginning, and most deaths will take place at home, among one's family, some of whom will know that they they are also infected.

The work on these flu-related pages was begun in June of 2006, and as they grew it became easier to do the work within a traditional blog, rather than a set of academic web pages. I therefore started up Bird Flu Economics. Please feel welcome to vist and post comments on the articles you find there. For the moment, you will find some overlap with my Wharton pages, but eventually all of the flu-related work will migrate to Bird Flu Economics.

Crash Course in Influenza Etiology, Epidemiology, and Politics

A good place to begin is with the The American Scientist (2003) article by Robert G. Webster and Elizabeth Jane Walker

The there is a PBS American Experience website that gives a quick review of the 1918 Pandemic, but for the full story you will want to read The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. This NYT best seller covers the 1918 pandemic in fascinating detail. It also gives useful perspectives on the evolution of the medical infrastructure of the United States, including the national health service.

The 2005 Foreign Affairs article by Michael Osterholm in Foreign Affairs provides perspective on the social and economic consequences of an H5N1 pandemic. This piece has been widely distributed to business and government decision makers throughout the world. The circumstances have not change precipitously since this article was written, though evidence suggesting the likelihood of a pandemic has continued to accumulate.

Official Sources

WHO The World Health Organization provides source reports and cumulative statistical data, including case reports and mortality reports.

CDC The Center for Disease Control is a primary sourse for heathcare professionals in the US. --- The US Government Portal for Pandemic Flu Information.

Government of France: Influenza Information and Planning.

The Flu Resource Page of Singapore's Ministry of Health is remarkably oncrete.

Perhaps the basic theme of our National Strategy is that the federal government will be able to provide very little practical help once a pandemic is underway. Citizens will be forced to rely on the foresight and integrity of their local authorities, which is not good new for those of us who will rely on Philadelphia's Flu Plan. (up-date)

News aggregators --- and RSS Feeds:

Wall Street Journal Avian Flu News Tracker.

BBC Influenza News Summary.

FluWiki and Ariel : Two homegrown information aggregators with a mild survivalist slant.

My Own Thoughts

Bottom Line?

What Should You Do To Stay Alive?

Personal Finance in an Infuenza Pandemic

Right, Wrong, and Research

The purpose of this page is to share with my friends what I am thinking about a topic that I believe to be of great importance. Please let me know if you find errors, or if you think I am way off the mark. Mainly as a way to focus my own thoughts, I have also started a research page that will discuss modelling issues.

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