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Flu roundup cont’d

Lots of flu news out there. Here’s my short list for the day: Helen Branswell reports that WHO is unpersuaded by the unpublished paper showing seasonal flu vaccine may raise chance of getting swine flu. (Anomalies are usually anomalies.) Canada has been thrown into quite a bit of confusion by this report, with some provinces…

On the reading table lately

Been a while, so these cover a span of reading. I’m in the midst of my friend Adrienne Mayor’s The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, and can report that Mr. M is quite a poisonous but complicated handful — a dark and deadly echo of his hero and model,…

My latest piece for Slate examines the unsettling consequences of the United States’ choice of swine flu vaccines. The good news about these vaccines is that, to judge by the first vaccine trial results, published last week, they appear to work fast, safely — and at about a half to a quarter of the doses…

Having lived with fire ants, stepped in fire ants, laid down with fire ants, and been bit just about everywhere by fire ants, the news that parasitic flies turn fire ants them into zombies by eating their brains pleases me immensely. Speaking of pleasure: Vaughn whacks the dopamine = pleasure meme. Sharon Begley says Obama…

I should just have a permanent pointer from here to Effect Measure. But as I’ve not figured out how to do that, here’s some more sensible thinking from Revere: No one on the public health side has over reacted. When an outbreak or pandemic is unfolding, you get only one chance. The window is a…

I’ve noted several times here how more measured heads keep emphasizing that a) we’re working on partial information in responding to the current swine flu outbreak and b) new developments may complicate things at any point along the line. Here’s a great example of what these folks (like Effect Measure, Crof, and Avian Flu Diary)…

Theme of the day (again, sort of): managing expectation, or Do I panic or just ignore this thing and scoff at those who express concern? Neither, of course. I’m personally provisionally encouraged at the aggregated news from yesterday — meaning I was glad to see that though the virus is spreading, its pace doesn’t seem…

This swine flu business is moving fast now, with confirmed or reported cases popping up everywhere and the first reported death outside Mexico — a 23-month-old child in Texas — reported this morning. As Effect Measure notes Some of the fear [generated in the U.S. by this deat] will be lessened by the new knowledge…

Flu news you can use

The excellent blog H5N1 (now covering H1N1 as well, and all over it), points us to the New York Times for an op-ed by John M. Barry, author of the definitive history of the Spanish flu in the US: Where Will the Swine Flu Go Next? Excerpt: As the swine flu threatens to become the…

Effect Measure — inspired by a thoughtful note from bird-flu ace reporter Helen Branswell — ponders the implications of the increasing lack of specialization, and thus deep subject-specific expertise, among MSM reporters. The conclusion we draw from this is that if you really want to know what’s going on in the flu world you shouldn’t…