Saturday, October 24, 2009

We’re All Paranoids Now

***UPDATE***

From Drudge, here’s a report on the outbreak of a disease that ought to concern any parent whose children are not up-to-date on their mumps vaccines:

New York City’s Health and Mental Hygiene Department is warning doctors about a mumps outbreak in Brooklyn.

The cases started turning up in late August.

The outbreak began among children from Borough Park who attended summer camp in Upstate New York. Now, a similar outbreak is being reported in New Jersey.

So far, 57 confirmed or probable cases have been identified in New York. Cases of mumps have continued to occur in Borough Park since the start of the school year.

The victims have ranged in age from 1 to 42 years of age. Most of the cases are among children ages 10-15 years old.

Mumps is an illness characterized by acute swelling of the salivary gland lasting two or more days. The illness can cause deafness and encephalitis.

[and sterility in adult males - D]

Children who are not fully vaccinated against mumps are the highest risk of infection.




Some worriers out there have been predicting that President Obama would use his executive powers to shove policy his way. In the past, I dismissed that as overheated rhetoric, but now it's beginning to appear that the paranoids got it right.

First, some context:

CBS News Exclusive: Study Of State Results Finds H1N1 Not As Prevalent As Feared

Last week, CBS News finished researching the swine flu “epidemic” and concluded:

If you’ve been diagnosed “probable” or “presumed” 2009 H1N1 or “swine flu” in recent months, you may be surprised to know this: odds are you didn’t have H1N1 flu.

In fact, you probably didn’t have flu at all. That’s according to state-by-state test results obtained in a three-month-long CBS News investigation.

The ramifications of this finding are important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Britain’s National Health Service, once you have H1N1 flu, you’re immune from future outbreaks of the same virus. Those who think they’ve had H1N1 flu -- but haven’t -- might mistakenly presume they’re immune. As a result, they might skip taking a vaccine that could help them, and expose themselves to others with H1N1 flu under the mistaken belief they won’t catch it. Parents might not keep sick children home from school, mistakenly believing they’ve already had H1N1 flu.

Then CBS asks why the uncertainty about who does and who does not have swine flu:

In late July, the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there’s an epidemic?

Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains.

CBS News learned that the decision to stop counting H1N1 flu cases was made so hastily that states weren’t given the opportunity to provide input…

Obviously, the CDC was acting hastily, so CBS News went into fight-the-bureacracy-mode:

When CDC did not provide us with the material, we filed a Freedom of Information request with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). More than two months later, the request has not been fulfilled. We also asked CDC for state-by-state test results prior to halting of testing and tracking, but CDC was again, initially, unresponsive.

“Unresponsive”? Quelle surprise! CBS, not being a bureaucracy, went directly to the states themselves:

While we waited for CDC to provide the data, which it eventually did, we asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The results reveal a pattern that surprised a number of health care professionals we consulted. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico.

The website has a nice little graphic showing the results of testing. Here they are in tabular form:

State Cases Pct H1N1
FL 8853 17%
CA 13704 2%
AK 722 1%
GA 3117 2%

The CBS report goes on to fisk a sloppy story concerning a “flu outbreak” at Georgetown University. I urge you to read the particulars.

The research for this investigation took three months and uncovered some curious information:
- - - - - - - - -
CDC continues to monitor flu in general and H1N1 through “sentinels,” which basically act as spot-checks to detect trends around the nation. But at least one state, California, has found value in tracking H1N1 flu in greater detail.

“What we are doing is much more detailed and expensive than what CDC wants,” said Dr. Bela Matyas, California’s Acting Chief of Emergency Preparedness and Response. “We’re gathering data better to answer how severe is the illness. With CDC’s fallback position, there are so many uncertainties with who’s being counted, it’s hard to know how much we’re seeing is due to H1N1 flu rather than a mix of influenza diseases generally. We can tell that apart but they can’t.” [my emphasis - D]

After our conversation with Dr. Matyas, public affairs officials with the California Department of Public Health emphasized to CBS News that they support CDC policy to stop counting individual cases, maintaining that the state has the resources to gather more specific testing data than the CDC.

In other words, don’t rely on the national figures, do a reality check with your state health department. They'll supply the truth while continuing to mouth platitudes about the CDC's less-than-optimal approach.

And how’s this for medical advice?

Because of the uncertainties, the CDC advises even those who were told they had H1N1 to get vaccinated unless they had lab confirmation. “Persons who are uncertain about how they were diagnosed should get the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.”

CBS mentions the downside to getting the vaccine “anyway”:

…the CDC recommendation for those who had “probable” or “presumed” H1N1 flu to go ahead and get vaccinated anyway means the relatively small proportion of those who actually did have H1N1 flu will be getting the vaccine unnecessarily. This exposes them to rare but significant side effects, such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

It also uses up vaccine, which is said to be in short supply. The CDC was hoping to have shipped 40 million doses by the end of October, but only about 30 million doses will be available this month.

And guess what? The CDC didn’t respond to questions from CBS. The report was done without their cooperation. Imagine that.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Our President is not letting reality interfere with his actions, either. From the New York Times and Washington Post come these stories. First, the Times:

President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients.

The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country and production delays undercutting the government’s initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine could be available by mid-October.

This is par for the course for the Obama administration: sign those executive orders on Friday night, when the media is off-duty for the weekend.

Less scrutiny that way. When the press reports back for work on Monday morning, the “news” is old by media standards.

Health authorities say more than 1,000 people in the United States, including almost 100 children, have died from the flu, known as H1N1, and 46 states have widespread flu activity. So far only 11 million doses have gone out to health departments, doctor’s offices and other providers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

Administration officials said the declaration was a pre-emptive move designed to make decisions easier when they need to be made. Officials said the move was not in response to any single development.

Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius now has authority to bypass federal rules when opening alternative care sites, such as offsite hospital centers at schools or community centers if hospitals seek permission.

Notice the lack of specificity here. Which forty-six (or fifty-seven, whatever) states are reporting “widespread flu activity” and, given the information we have from CBS, how much of that “flu activity” has actually been tested for swine flu and found to be positive?

Also notice the term “pre-emptive” because that’s the one you’re supposed to get used to and this fake emergency is as good a way as any to get you used to these pre-emptive “emergency” orders.

WaPo has slightly different wording, using direct quotes:

…Obama does “hereby find and proclaim that, given that the rapid increase in illness across the Nation may overburden health care resources and that the temporary waiver of certain standard Federal requirements may be warranted in order to enable U.S. health care facilities to implement emergency operations plans, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic in the United States constitutes a national emergency.”

White House officials downplayed the dramatic-sounding language, saying the president’s action was not prompted by a new assessment of the dangers posed to the public by the flu.

Instead, officials said the action provides greater flexibility for hospitals which may suddenly find themselves confronted with a surge of new patients as the virus sweeps through their communities.

“The H1N1 is moving rapidly, as expected. By the time regions or healthcare systems recognize they are becoming overburdened, they need to implement disaster plans quickly,” White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said Saturday.

This is such a crock. Obama has to look like he’s doing something other than his usual “jack” and “squat” so he signs weekend emergency orders that aren’t really emergencies. They’re simply getting Americans used to “emergency-oh-my-gosh-orders” that will severely curb our freedoms. This one is a test, it is only a test...

The Times and WaPo ought to be ashamed for not giving some context on this piece of “news” emanating from the White House. For example, they could have compared those one hundred children’s deaths from the H1N1 virus with the two thousand kids who die in car accidents each year.

This “emergency” order, signed under the radar on a weekend is a good example of a probe, pure and simple. We’re being set up, folks.

Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to the paranoid gallery?

13 comments:

Fjordman said...

I've been following the near-hysteria regarding the swine flu in Europe. It's just another flu, yet it's being treated as the new Black Plague. As usual, everything happens for a reason. Rationally speaking it is true that we will face a serious global pandemic at some point, but I suspect the reason for the current hysteria has little to do with medicine.

Imagine if Western states had spent as much time and effort on protecting our borders against unwanted immigrants/hostile colonists as they do against this flu. Then we might have been able to achieve something. Western authorities do this in order to justify their power and to make the case for extensions of their authority in the future. Bureaucracies have an in-built tendency to expand. Western nations now face a situation where an inflated bureaucracy is incapable of upholding the most basic standards of law and order in our cities but wants to protect us from dangerous yogurts or non-threatening diseases. It's a fraud.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I think this thing constitutes a dangerous devaluation of the concept 'National emergency'. This precedence may be used in other, more critical situations.

Plusungood...

Natalie said...

Some thoughts:

With regards to Obama, we paranoid people are, more often than not, correct. So you all should listen to us more :)

The flu shot is only about 60% effective. So even if one does get it, one could still get the flu. I'm not saying that people shouldn't get it--just saying that it does not make us completely immune.

The whole manufactured panic over the flu is so typical of the left--there always has to be some sort of emergency to justify them "helping" us, except that them helping us is a pretext for getting more power. Jonah Goldberg talks about this idea in his excellent book Liberal Fascism.

And Dymphna, while I was reading my psychology textbook earlier, there was a Dutch researcher mentioned and her first name was Dymphna! It made me think of you.

Henrik R Clausen said...

there always has to be some sort of emergency to justify them "helping" us.

As in Scared to Death.

At least here in Denmark, the flu shot contains mercury. I'm not going near that stuff.

Ralph said...

I have some info and links as to what a "national emergency" entails HERE

It is definitely scary stuff. The only question remaining is if this is dry run or the real thing!

Dymphna said...

"dry run"-- that's a good term. I like it equally as well as "probe".

===============

Natalie:

When I first came across the name about 10 years ago I'd never heard it before. Now, when I tried to register on Twitter, I had to take "Dymphna Gates" since all the variations of 'Dymphna' had been taken.

Of course, now that I'm on Twitter I have no idea what to do with it. Our ISP provider, with her lovely Scots burr, assured me it would be very useful...

...our son is trying to nudge me toward Facebook, too, but I don't get the attraction. We're already up to our ears in emails.

BTW, Natalie, be careful at school. As you know, college communities are good incubators for whatever's going around. But don't let them panic you into believing you have H1N1. Insist on a test.

imho.

Nilk said...

Henrik, I would suggest doubleplusungood would be more appropriate.

I'm also for a dry run, but I'm also totally paranoid - just ask my mates.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Nilk, I insist on plusungood. Doubleplusungood is yet to come.

Henrik R Clausen said...

But don't let them panic you into believing you have H1N1. Insist on a test.

Or just take the three sick days. It's merely another flu.

u.l. said...

To understand the hysteria surrounding swine flu it is helpful to have a look at Margaret Chan, presently chief of the WHO. After all, it was the WHO that got the hysteria going and declared this outbreak a 'pandemic'. Mrs. Chan is a disgraced former Hong Kong Director of Health. Locally she is remembered for the mishandling of the infamous SARS outbreak in 2003. She is a bureaucrat who can act according to the rulebook only, incapable of independent thought or action. During the SARS crisis she went from denial to misinformation to blind actionism. The local health department under her leadership was for some time even unable to provide proper protective clothing and facemasks to hospital staff, and money was raised in the community to buy these things privately. Now, Hong Kong is not exactly a poor place, in fact it is one of the richest cities in the world with a huge budget surplus. So money was not the problem but incompetent bureaucrats were. After the crisis Mrs. Chan was fired (or perhaps resigned to save face - can't remember) and dumped at the UN. What better place is there to get rid of an incompetent official? She has since risen to WHO chief and obviously had a plan of action drawn up should a pandemic strike. The glee with which the WHO jumped at every single bird flu case in the past few years shows that they couldn’t wait to put their plan into practice. As they focused on bird flu and SE Asia the new virus quite predictably arose from another strain and location. It does not matter that swine flu for all we know has no different effects from the seasonal flu which appears in a different variety every year anyway. Margaret Chan had to be seen as taking action this time, meaningful or not, and swiftly declared a ‘pandemic’. In Hong Kong this caused overreaction and some chaos and dismay with the closure of primary schools in June.
This is the WHO side of the story as I see it. Of course, one should not let a crisis go to waste (especially an engineered one), so the situation is used to advance whatever agendas governments, the UN, companies and so on may have.

Dymphna said...

u.l.--

thank you for finding the spider in the midst of this web. And, yes, the UN is the perfect dump site for incompetent or mediocre bureaucrats. That's why John Bolton said that the top ten floors should be sold off for low-cost housing. He didn't last there very long.

The only way I'd say this flu is different is that it's killing young, healthy people. Most seasonal flus take the old and otherwise vulnerable. OTOH, the kids who are dying might be those who are is some other way previously comprimised -- i.e., asthma, congenital heart defects,etc. They're not reporting on the specifics.

Mr. Smarterthanyou said...

I am glad I am not the only one who gets an uneasy feeling about this. It seems like a test run to get us conditioned to flock to clinics to let the gov't inject us with something. When you consider how many liberals support eugenics, mass sterilization (The science czar etc>)and population control, this kind of crap creeps me out.

u.l. said...

Dymphna,

for Hong Kong detailed statistics are available and though most of the people who fall ill are young (median age 14 years), the majority of fatal cases is much older (median age 55 years).

Hong Kong Swine Flu

As of Oct 21, 2009, the cumulative number of patients tested positive for human swine influenza was 31,211. The age ranged from 10 days to 95 years (median: 14 years)

In week 42 (Oct 11 to 17), 2 fatal cases were recorded. As of Oct 21, a total of 33 fatal cases were recorded. They were 24 males and 9 females, age ranged from 11 to 93 years (median: 55 years).


Of course the number of cases in Hong Kong is rather small and therefore statistics is not so reliable but every case here is confirmed by lab testing. They also publish basic details on every fatal case here. I followed that for a while and almost every fatal case had some other health problems too.