Friday, November 20, 2009

Why the secrecy?

Coincidental to the current H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic, about two years ago I read "The Great Influenza" by John M. Barry, a sobering account of the 1918 influenza.

The book traces the explosion of illness along the virus' path and it's human destruction while examining the scientific exploration process used to identify the killer disease.

It also documents the heroes as well as the cowards, along with the maneuvers of institutions which controlled the dissemination of accurate information to the public.

John Barry's insight in The Great Influenza is definitely thought-provoking, compelling, and the lessons both learned and not learned from the 1918 pandemic are still relevant today.

As frustrating as it was to understand the political and institutional mind-set of 1918, I'm appalled that we are dealing the same secrecy in 2009.

Which is why I found the following article well worth sharing.


Keeping a public health crisis, private.

By: Jo Ciavaglia

In Pennsylvania – where more than 1.3 million in swine flu vaccination have been distributed among more than 1,300 health care providers whose names are considered a state secret — comes the newest, strange twist in this public health crisis.

Who is dying of this mysterious flu?

Don’t bother asking the state that either. Apparently it’s a secret too.

Apparently almost everything about this H1N1 swine flu is a secret in Pennsylvania except how to can protect yourself.

No doubt the state has spent millions of dollars promoting that information which is basic hygiene 101: don’t sneeze on people, wash you hands, and keep your hands to yourself – and off your face. Just check out the Web site, it’s full of useful information such as:

What is the swine flu virus?

How it spreads


What if you get sick?

Like is there anyone in American that doesn’t know the answers to these questions yet? What we don’t know is WHERE IS THE VACCINE????

The number of swine-flu related deaths in Pennsylvania is now at 38 up from 29 last week. So far, at least one child has died. Yes, it’s a tiny number – less than 1 percent of the 10,000 total state lab confirmed swine flu cases.

But are there any, say, patterns with the deaths with age or perhaps the health of the person.

These are reasonable questions that people – who are considering not only vaccinating themselves, but their kids, would like to know.

Nope. Can’t tell you, is what the state health department told me when I asked for the ages those who’ve died as well did the person have an underlying medical condition.

“As you know, we are restricted in what we can say by the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law. We are not releasing any information on deaths other than the county,” was the response I received from a state health spokeswoman.

My reply to this was something to the effect: So you can’t tell me how many of these deaths involved people with serious medical conditions and if there is any pattern with the ages with this public health crisis? Still waiting for a reply to that question.

See, while the state – and everyone else – is hyping up the prevalence of H1N1 infections among people under age 30, what I am wondering is did they get it wrong.

Now clearly the under-30 crowd accounts for the preponderance of swine flu cases in Pennsylvania — 76 percent of the 10,000 so far — at least according to state lab tested confirmations. (Remember the state and CDC stopped testing most people months ago, only people admitted to hospitals are tested now).

But, as people seem to forget this H1N1 virus is a mostly mild – in some cases the seasonal flu is worse. So to me, it seems to those most vulnerable folks – who REALLY need the vaccine -- are the ones DYING of this virus.

Those numbers seem to suggest that people with underlying medical condition are clearly more at risk than younger people. Even among pregnant women in the state fewer than 1 percent have contracted H1N1, according to the state.

Locally, two people in Montgomery County who’ve died of swine flu complications, a 58year old with underlying medical conditions and a 19 year old also with underlying medical conditions.

Across the river in New Jersey, three Burlington County people have died of swine flu and two adult women, ages 38 and 42, had underlying chronic medical conditions and a 17 year old boy, who had no known medical problems.

You sense a pattern here? With the state secrecy that is.


Anonymous said...

Another concern which is missing from almost all reports is the side effects from the vaccine. I have heard through direct knowledge of a perfectly healthy girl in her early twenties who contracted the rare disease from the vaccine that causes paralysis and is currently in intensive care with loss of feeling climbing from the legs to the rest of her body. Why isn't this published? This is just one story of many that most likely isn't being told.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the conspiracy here.

Doesn't it make sense that people who have chronic underlying medical conditions would have less of an ability to fight a severe respiratory illness than others in the population?

The fact that sick individuals who contract the flu -ANY flu- do actually die from the effects of a respiratory illness on top of their disease is logical science.

How does that translate to a government conspiracy?

Sensationalism causes panic. This flu has already caused panic to the extent that many hundreds a day visit local emergency rooms with nothing more than cold symptoms. Of these hundreds, literally less than a handful get admitted, with testing for H1N1. the rest are sent home with advice to rest, get plenty of fluids and let their common cold run its course.

Anonymous said...

To: November 20, 2009 9:26:00 PM ES....the "conspiracy" thought process is because the government will not release any information of substance, not that people with underlying health conditions are more affected. That is to be expected. However, wouldn't it be informative if we knew what those conditions were, what the affects were, where they were happening and to what extent? I'd sure like to know so that I could potentially take action that afforded additional protection.

Anonymous said...

Re: 11/20 11:39 pm

"I'd sure like to know so that I could potentially take action that afforded additional protection."

What additional action would you be taking other than what is already explained on the CDC website, etc?

Regarding where- the H1N1 virus is scattered worldwide. It comes into areas and goes, just like any other virus. It was very prevalent in the greater Philadelphia area about 3 1/2 weeks ago but it seems to have peaked for now and slowed down. This has been on the news channels with information being supplied by local hospital statistics.
As for underlying medical conditions, I would guess it would affect the usual suspects- those with pulmonary issues such as COPD, diabetes, overweight individuals, pregnant women- this has been all over the news, people with conditions that lead them to be immuno supressed. I personally don't think it is rocket science to figure out what conditions might be worsened or even fatal with a severe case of the flu added on top.
There is evidence that some older persons, perhaps due to the many years of receiving flu shots, or just years of exposure in general, are not as susceptible as younger persons who have not.

I am sure at the end of the season the government statistics will be compiled and analyzed. Right now they are just getting their numbers from hospitals. A final type of analysis at this point would be a little premature, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

"What additional action would you be taking other than what is already explained on the CDC website, etc?"......I can think of a lot of things I could do differently if information indicated I or my family were a higher about not going out in public as about refusing to shake about wearing a nose/mouth mask as so many do in the Asia Pacific region....and a few others ideas as well, and I don't know what all the underlying conditions are. It's nice that you do and are prepared to assume there are no others than those on a CDC web site. Good luck with relying exclusively on the government information distribution. I'd prefer real world experiences myself and prefer the information be more forthcoming than waiting until everything is over and statistically computed.

Anonymous said...

To Nov 21 12:50
Please, for your own safety I think you should implement all of these actions right now. Don't wait for other peoples stories. By then it is too late. I've heard of perfectly healthy people dying from this right in our own hospitals. It can kill.
I don't go out much at all, and I especially don't go to a doctor's office or emergency room because that is where they all are. They are also in grocery stores, in front or in back of you in line. As an extra precaution I only use my credit card,no cash, and I go to gas stations when I have to that are self-serve, since I believe no one thinks when they sneeze and then grab onto the gas pump handle. these are just some of the precautions I have put into place since this thing started spreading across the world. We have to be safe. We should be self reliant and not wait for the government to tell us what to do.

Anonymous said...

"We should be self reliant and not wait for the government to tell us what to do.".....I hope you're not suggesting I'm waiting for the government to tell me what to do....I have always and will continue to make those decision and prefer the government stay out of all of my business...however, my point is that any decision should be made after seeing and considering valid, uncensored information, very little of which seems to be available as far as the H1N1 virus. That information is controlled by the government.
is concerned and just not forthcoming even though it should be available.

Anonymous said...

Very little information?
Every news channel has factual information every single day- who, when, what, where.
Hospital reports are broadcasted whenever they become available.

I don't know how much more information I can stand on this issue. Certainly we under this government system are much more informed than most countries!

The latest is that the prevalence of H1N1 has RAPIDLY DECLINED in the last week and the sky has not fallen.

The big question of the week: Did you get YOUR vaccine yet?

Anonymous said...

"Good luck with relying exclusively on the government information distribution. I'd prefer real world experiences myself and prefer the information be more forthcoming than waiting until everything is over and statistically computed."

Well this is what the tv and newspaper reports give us, along with available gov't data.
I agree..What more do we want? Do we just want to get down and dirty and get into people's personal tragedies? Do we want the individual pain and suffering accounts of the dying and their families? This serves no purpose other than that similar to tabloid gossip on the stars.

Karen said...

FYI, this pandemic is not over yet.

Received via email subscription.


RSOE EDIS - Pandemic Monitoring System
Budapest, Hungary


SITUATION UPDATE : 2009-11-23 03:42:36 - Ukraine

Event ID: UKR-20090602-209
Date & Time: 2009.11.23 04:40:07 [UTC]
Area: Ukraine, Statewide


According to analysis of genetic testing done by the World Health Organization, the Ukraine flu virus is an H1N1 mutation that is similar to the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. The two flu virus outbreaks both have changes in the receptor binding domain D225G, and similar symptoms, which include bleeding in the lungs. Current estimates of the deaths attributed to the Ukraine flu outbreak is as many as 400, and increasing daily.

Spanish flu pandemic

In 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic killed between 20 million and 40 million people. The pandemic took place during the end of World War I, but ten times as many Americans died from the Spanish Flu as died in the war - nearly 700,000. The most severely struck regions were in areas of high humidity. Some speculation existed that the Spanish flu was an early attempt at a biological weapon due to the extremely high death rate, and symptoms that included bleeding in the lungs.

H1N1 Mutation in the Ukraine

The H1N1 mutation in the Ukraine also includes the symptoms of bleeding in the lungs, and has been described as an infection that completely destroys the lungs. The receptor binding proteins present in the Spanish flu and in swine flu mutations that result in bleeding lungs and death are the same. A virus attaches to charged molecules on cells. Some attach to proteins and others to lipids, but the type of molecule differs between viruses. The virus samples analyzed by the World Health Organization from the Ukraine flu showed a different receptor binding pattern than the original swine flu virus, but the same as the receptor binding pattern as the 1918 Spanish flu. - Victoria Nicks

[Victoria Nicks is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She has been researching and evaluating various types of technology, both in and out of the military, for over 15 years. In addition to her Associate\'s Degree in Information Systems, and Bachelor\'s of Science in Information Technology, she will attain her Master\'s of Science in Information Technology in December of 2009.]

Dead(s): 374
Infected (Susp.): 0
Infected (Conf.): 1580000
Quaranten: 0

Posted:2009-11-23 03:42:36 [UTC]