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Fluent in Flu

"What surface is the most friendly to the flu virus? Where’s the best place to stand when you’re talking to a sick person? And how are Australians curbing germs in schools? To find out these answers and more, take the Well flu quiz.(SLNYT)"
posted by storybored on Dec 23, 2014 - 9 comments

The Common Cold Unit: 1946-1989

Free 10 Day Autumn or Winter Break: You may not win a Nobel Prize, but you could help find a cure for the common cold.
posted by misteraitch on Oct 17, 2014 - 4 comments

We could use a few pointers on prudence.

"During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one." [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Oct 15, 2014 - 204 comments

Thinking about disease

Ebola and the Construction of Fear by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:
Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Sep 29, 2014 - 74 comments

"That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery."

Things That Don't Suck, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.

I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.

[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 19, 2014 - 162 comments

War + communicable disease = the greatest pandemic ever known

The Great War helped create the influenza pandemic of 1918, which eventually brought an early end to the Great War. "I had a little bird, Its name was Enza.  I opened the window, And in-flu-enza. ~ Children's Skipping Rhyme, 1918"
posted by Dashy on Jul 31, 2014 - 14 comments

Nature's Perfect Killing Machine Can Be Killed With Soap

Ebola is nightmare fuel: a biological doomsday device conspiring with our bodies to murder us in uniquely gruesome fashion. It’s also killed fewer than 2,000 people. How has a virus with such a modest body count so fiercely captured the darkest corners of our imagination? - Leigh Cowart for Haziltt.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 8, 2014 - 56 comments

A Guide to Flu Varieties in 2014

Judy Stone writes two thousand words helping to make sense of contemporary influenza varieties for Scientific American. David McCandless's Influ-Venn-za draws a picture for us. via Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing
posted by cgc373 on Jan 31, 2014 - 12 comments

Setting the record straight on the flu vaccine

Setting the record straight: Debunking ALL the flu vaccine myths [via]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 30, 2013 - 79 comments

H7N9

Is China covering up another flu pandemic -- or getting it right this time? A long article from Foreign Policy regarding the recent outbreak of H7N9 flu. [readability link]
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates on Apr 23, 2013 - 102 comments

H7N9: The next pandemic?

Is this a pandemic being born? [Google cache] The H7N9 (Bird) Flu Virus May Have Adapted To Mammals. The WHO is investigating. Four new human cases were identified late Tuesday.
posted by spock on Apr 2, 2013 - 139 comments

Bad, but not THAT bad.

Last month, we saw that Google Flu Trends was predicting doom for the U.S. Turns out, Google was wrong. [more inside]
posted by OHSnap on Feb 19, 2013 - 34 comments

The A-Z of Epidemiology:

Germs from Anthrax to Zoonoses. A disturbing bedtime book for kids. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jan 21, 2013 - 15 comments

Not THAT kind of virus.

Google uses searches for flu symptoms to track each year's strain's intensity and spread. In 2013, the US is basically doomed. [more inside]
posted by OHSnap on Jan 10, 2013 - 87 comments

The Avian Flu: Transparency vs. Public Safety

"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
posted by zarq on May 3, 2012 - 37 comments

DHS vs. NIH

The U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has asked the journals Nature and Science to publish redacted versions of the studies by two research groups that reportedly created forms of the H5N1 avian flu that could easily jump between ferrets - animals whose response to influenza is similar to humans. [more inside]
posted by 445supermag on Dec 20, 2011 - 101 comments

This would make a really good movie.

Locked up in the bowels of the medical faculty building here and accessible to only a handful of scientists lies a man-made flu virus that could change world history if it were ever set free.
posted by pashdown on Nov 30, 2011 - 89 comments

The beauty of Molecular, Cell, and Microbiology

There has been a new discipline developing in molecular biology for some time now, Bioanimation! Projects have ranged in size from WEHI's colossal compilation to Harvard Biovision's magnum opus "Inner Life of the Cell" to commercially produced masterpieces to smaller projects by university PIs and enthusiasts. much [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 25, 2010 - 29 comments

You Got Transmissibility in My Lethality!

In a hot lab in the center of Lyon, space-suited virologists want to create a superflu as contagious as H1N1 and as lethal as H5N1. Why? So nature doesn't get there first.
posted by drdanger on Nov 15, 2009 - 51 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

Does the (Flu) Vaccine Matter?

In Does the Vaccine Matter?, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer discuss the history of vaccines and explore why "some flu experts are challenging the medical orthodoxy and arguing that for those most in need of protection, flu shots and antiviral drugs may provide little to none." In a related story (which condenses and provides a point-by-point summary of the original (with obvious bias)): "Flu vaccines revealed as the greatest quackery ever pushed in the history of medicine."
posted by torquemaniac on Oct 14, 2009 - 90 comments

Madagascar's Ports Still Open, Though

WHO declares global flu pandemic. "The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century," [WHO Chief Margaret ]Chan told reporters. "The (swine flu) virus is now unstoppable." [more inside]
posted by empath on Jun 11, 2009 - 84 comments

He's Behind You, He's Got Swine Flu

He's Behind You, He's Got Swine Flu. New video from The Streets: stupid fun, or smart commentary on social panic?
posted by jon_hansen on May 10, 2009 - 49 comments

Flu Season Fashion

The flu craze might be reason to stay inside, but it's not stopping Mexicans from going out in style. It might even be the next fad north of the border, thanks to radio morning show DJs in cities such as Chicago. If you act now, you can submit your own design here just in time for Cinco de Mayo. But what do you know, some fashion designers already had the new fad planned out. But they can't ultimately claim the credit, for the Japanese have been putting their masks on for a long time.
posted by inkyroom on May 4, 2009 - 34 comments

God Bless Them.

Question... What has killed more people than have died in the First World War... No, not another War, But a Pandemic, The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. [more inside]
posted by hadjiboy on May 2, 2009 - 97 comments

Don't follow the walking dude

Is Swine Flu Captain Trips? Probably not. But Mother Abigail's following is growing all the same.
posted by tylerfulltilt on Apr 28, 2009 - 84 comments

I'm the healthiest 55 year old you'll ever see! I play golf every weekend!

Get your swine flu shot! (Circa 1976)
posted by miss lynnster on Apr 27, 2009 - 40 comments

The plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert... The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans. The outbreak of a variant of swine flu led federal officials to close Mexico City-area schools indefinitely - the first such shutdown since a devastating 1985 earthquake. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Apr 25, 2009 - 297 comments

Bring in 'da funk.

Celebrate flu season with Phage Wars. (Flash sick-in-bed Tuesday)
posted by LordSludge on Dec 2, 2008 - 10 comments

But will it work on the subset of searches sent via avian carriers?

Google Flu Trends brings us epidemiology through search analytics. The prevalence of certain search terms seems to be a good predictor of CDC flu reports a couple of weeks later. The New York Times has a story on this project.
posted by grouse on Nov 11, 2008 - 21 comments

Whoa, Nellie! The Great Epizootic of 1872

Running Like Wildfire — Imagine a national disaster that stopped 99% of American transportation in its tracks; shut down the country; halted shipping and trade; hobbled counter-insurgency operations, and helped Boston burn down. It spread from Canada southward to Cuba and westward to the Pacific, crippling all that Americans took for granted: their cities and towns; their supplies of food and consumer goods; their jobs, businesses, and the national economy. Such was the Great Epizootic of 1872.
posted by cenoxo on Oct 18, 2008 - 24 comments

Fighting the flu for 90 years

Inspired by an episode of the short-lived TV series Medical Investigation, researchers have found that survivors of the 1918 influenza pandemic continue to make antibodies against the virus.
posted by Knappster on Aug 18, 2008 - 12 comments

Anyone for the Global War on Flu?

The UK's national risk register is made public. It is kept updated by the secret squirrels in the Cabinet Office, and was previously kept under wraps. Pandemic flu and flooding beat out terrorism as the major risks facing the UK at the moment. Both are seen as less likely than a terrorist attack, but more devastating. The full pdf has a chart on page 7 showing the main risks on a grid.
posted by athenian on Aug 8, 2008 - 18 comments

Influenza in the Amazon

A British TV crew have been accused of spreading flu to a remote Peruvian tribe of 250 members, leading to 4 deaths. [more inside]
posted by roofus on Mar 27, 2008 - 17 comments

wash your hands (a PSA)

Don't want the flu? Wash your hands! Washing your hands is not the only way to prevent the flu, but it's clearly important. [more inside]
posted by tarheelcoxn on Nov 14, 2007 - 44 comments

The end of influenza?

The end of influenza? New british vaccine may prevent ALL types of flu, savings thousands of lives (and sick days) each year.
posted by Kickstart70 on Dec 28, 2006 - 26 comments

If they'd had this website there'd have only been 6 dwarves

Both Find a Flu Shot and Flu Clinic Locator will let you punch in a date & zip code and find a bunch of locations near you in the U.S. selling the vaccine. For the first time in three years there's plenty to go around. The CDC estimates that everyone who might want one will be able to get one. And you probably want one. According to wikipedia "36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and 114,000 per year are admitted to a hospital as a result of influenza. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, between 250,000 and 500,000 die from influenza infection each year worldwide." That's 5 to 10 times as many civilian casualties as the Iraq conflict in 1/3 the time. [more inside]
posted by phearlez on Oct 5, 2006 - 46 comments

Ba ba ba ba bird flu!

The "Bird flu dance" is "sweeping" Africa. Or at least the Ivory Coast. DJ Lewis created the dance (youtube warning) which was described in the BBC article as being "like a chicken with Parkinson's disease trying to dance to hip-hop". There are examples all over youtube (warning: here be lofi youtube videos).
posted by casconed on Jun 15, 2006 - 17 comments

Is H5N1 flu transitioning to human-to-human transmission?

Is H5N1 flu transitioning to a human-to-human illness? Recent reports of familial clusters suggest that it may be, though there are certainly other possible explanations, such as families living in environments contaminated by virus-laden bird feces. On the other hand, it would seem that epidemiologists are growing increasingly interested in the possibility that these clusters are indicative of human-to-human transmissions. Further, the virus may be inching towards being asymptomatic, which isn't as good as it sounds: if people can carry the virus and transmit it to others without showing symptoms, it will be very difficult to impossible to tell who is a vector and highly difficult to control any emerging epidemic.
posted by chakalakasp on Dec 2, 2005 - 23 comments

H5N1, shmaitch5N1

Dengue in Texas. If it ain't the flu, it's the haemorrhagic fever. Disease info from WHO, CDC, Wikipedia.
posted by Eothele on Oct 28, 2005 - 10 comments

Kobayashi Maru, what do you do?

Taiwan ignores drug patent - To save its people from a dangerous flu, Taiwan is synthesizing a vaccine without permission. This bears a striking resemblance to a classic moral dilemma of Kohlberg's stages of moral development. Kohlberg's theory is not without criticism, including gender bias, Western-centric thinking, and external validity. Simply knowing a person's decision doesn't tell you about their stage of development; you have to know the reasoning behind it, which is hard to come by in real world situations. Conversely, knowing a person's stage of moral development (even harder to come by in the real world) does not reliably predict their decision (moreso at the higher levels). Nor does Kohlberg's theory scale to what choices societies themselves make. Decision Making is a booming field of research, but how much research is being done on morality and group decision making? Not much. (initial article via /.)
posted by Eideteker on Oct 22, 2005 - 33 comments

Personal Pandemic Preparedness Plan

Personal Pandemic Preparedness Plan.
posted by stbalbach on Oct 7, 2005 - 53 comments

Pandemic Flu Awareness Week

October 3-9 is Pandemic Flu Awareness Week. "Like hurricanes, when a pandemic occurs can not be accurately predicted. Nonetheless, that which can be done in advance should be done, because eventually something will happen. Planning can only help, even if at the local level it can’t prevent." (Avian Flu previously discussed here, here, here and here.)
posted by grabbingsand on Oct 5, 2005 - 13 comments

Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight

Bush Considers Military Role in Flu Fight If the flu (say) breaks out in New Jersey, why not use the New Jersey National Guard. Just what is the guard for? Simply to be sent overseas for our bringing freedom to nations not having what we believe we have?
posted by Postroad on Oct 4, 2005 - 61 comments

Mystery respiratory outbreak in Toronto: 73 sick, 4 dead.

Mystery respiratory outbreak in Toronto: 73 sick, 4 dead. Yesterday the media quickly snapped up assurances [video] that ruled out influenza or SARS. Said officials, "We can certainly reassure people that this is not SARS, um, there is no SARS in the world ... Can I give you a guarantee that it's not influenza, at this time not, in a few hours, probably ... as the day goes on the public health lab has more and more results." A day has passed with no word on these tests. Affected areas are reportedly quarantined, and some Internet communities are growing alarmed over the contradictions at yesterday's press conference.
posted by rolypolyman on Oct 2, 2005 - 24 comments

Bird flu

What is really going on?
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 25, 2005 - 57 comments

Bye Bye Birdie

Over the past month, people in Qinghai province, China have been reporting that migratory birds in the mostly-rural region were dropping dead of an unknown disease, later diagnosed as a few hundred cases of "an isolated case" [sic] of influenza strain H5N1, a.k.a. bird flu. Three weeks later, the Chinese government admitted that actually about a thousand birds had died of bird flu in the province. Now there are reports saying that at least 8,000 animals--not just birds--have died from the flu, including not only breeds of fowl not previously known to be affected by the virus, but non-avian species, too.

Every national park and bird sanctuary in China has been closed for weeks, since the first reports surfaced of an outbreak. But today, disturbing photos started appearing on Chinese language news websites, supposedly taken at the closed Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve. They appear to show thousands of dead birds (warning, disturbing images - Engrish version via Babelfish here) on the island in the middle of Qinghai Lake, China's largest saltwater lake and a rest-stop for migratory birds from all across southeast Asia. Nervous pandemic-watchers are debating whether the photos are real or doctored, but compared to previous photos of the once-lively birding spot, something definitely seems to be wrong.
[ much more inside >> ]
posted by Asparagirl on Jun 5, 2005 - 42 comments

It's an emergency — official

Nature starts a weblog about the flu pandemic.
Now the virus is in coastal cities on both sides of South America. It hit Europe two weeks ago, ripping through Paris in just 11 days. In the French capital alone, there were 2.5 million cases and 50,000 dead. That's par for the course — infection rate 25% and mortality 2%, similar to the 1918 pandemic. Extrapolate these numbers, and we're going to have over 30 million dead worldwide. In poor and densely populated countries like India, it could be worse.

Where's next, I asked. Based on passenger data — which had to be prised from the airlines — one epidemiologist was willing to make a guess. "Within two weeks, there." He traced his finger from San Diego to Los Angeles, up to San Francisco. Within another three to four weeks, it'll be the turn of the conurbations along the eastern seaboard.


It's fiction but it might become reality soon.
posted by kika on May 25, 2005 - 38 comments

Fears growing that an H5 pandemic is likely

"Fears growing that an H5 pandemic is likely" A followup to 37271 (Dec. 2004) - “It appears this virus is progressively adapting to an increasing range of mammals in which it can cause infection, and the range of disease in human beings is wide and clearly includes encephalitis.” The New England Journal of Medicine says "These cases suggest that the spectrum of influenza H5N1 is wider than previously thought." The WHO is encouraging the stockpiling of bird flu vaccines now. There is concern in Britain that they are not moving fast enough.
posted by spock on Feb 16, 2005 - 59 comments

Bring out your dead!

Up to 100 million dead within weeks. A pandemic of biblical proportions according to the latest World Health Organization warning about the bird flu virus H5N1. It is so lethal that it kills most people it infects. Some experts are even warning that the WHO are being too conservative and that a death toll of 1 billion could be expected.
posted by Meridian on Dec 1, 2004 - 87 comments

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