Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pandemic... got that (suspected, probable) pandemic

Posted By on 04.29.09 at 01:05 PM

All the local news sources are reporting that "swine flu closes" a Rogers Park school. Technically, and I think this is somewhat important, caution about a suspected/probable case of swine flu has closed the school, and NBC5 is diligent in describing what probable actually means; it'll be a day or two until the CDC confirms whether the cases are swine flu, since the symptoms aren't all that different from seasonal influenza. The NYT's Well Blog has a good discussion of the trouble with symptoms. CIDRAP at the University of Minnesota has the actual CDC definitions for the categories confirmed, probable, and suspected (scroll down).

Nerdier and/or cautious readers will probably want some deeper sources on swine flu. Here are some interesting things I've found:

* Iowa epidemiologist Tara Smith (Twitter: @aetiology) at ScienceBlogs.

* André Picard of the Globe and Mail details how Canada has improved its public response to infectious disease in the wake of SARS, and urges calm in the face of a degree of inevitability: "Infections rise according to a predictable pattern, following an increasingly rapid curve until they hit a peak, then tail off. This is precisely what is happening with swine flu."

* Crof at H5N1 discusses why media reports have outpaced official death tolls in Mexico, and why it's hard to know who's right.

* Self-promoting HuffPo contributor suggests enemas. I wish I were making this up.

* The Virology Blog, run by a Columbia prof, looks to be a good source for breaking technical news, as does Mystery Rays.The National Center for Biotechnology Information is publishing swine flu genome sequences as they become available.

* Effect Measure looks at the Big Picture.

* In the NYT, Dr. Lawrence Altman notes why experts don't yet know how serious the situation is, and the information they're seeking out and/or waiting on.

* Why I can't bear Gawker, part infinity: "Faceless low-level health workers versus a microscopic virus?" Can't bear the off-hand snideness, sorry.

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