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The Pandemic vs. the IT Department 181

Posted by Zonk
from the if-there-is-a-pandemic-i-know-i'll-be-worrying-about-apache dept.
ElsaBorzoi wrote to mention a Network World article suggesting some pandemic preparations for your IT department. From the article: "A survey last month of 300 Minnesota business officials found most thought a flu pandemic would significantly affect their business, but only 18% had preparedness plans in place. The poll sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy found that close to two thirds said they were already prepared or somewhat prepared to move employees to remote locations or let them work at home, while 29% said they were not prepared. The H5N1 influenza virus, which originated in Asia, could hit the U.S. this fall, potentially causing an epidemic, the nation's chief avian flu coordinator warned."
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The Pandemic vs. the IT Department

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  • by core plexus (599119) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:24AM (#14896481) Homepage
    According to this article [suvalleynews.com], from the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services Public Health Division, Alaska has been watching out for problems associated with a potential Bird Flu pandemic for quite some time.

    We would be one of the first to see it, but there are many questions to be answered.

    • I don't want to suggest we don't need to be careful. On the contrary the very idea that we should ignore disease is silly. However; the H5N1 virus is being used as a international bureaucratic shake down. Here is how you can know this:

      (1) Are the authorities doing anything about the 50,000 people this year who will die with the flu except pushing their useless vaccines?(NO!)

      (2)Washing hands stops all infections diseases and it is undeniable that we don't have to cure a diseas you don't contact. Are the

      • (1) Are the authorities doing anything about the 50,000 people this year who will die with the flu except pushing their useless vaccines?(NO!)

        What, exactly speaking, can you do about people getting a disease if the medicines are useless ?

        (2)Washing hands stops all infections diseases and it is undeniable that we don't have to cure a diseas you don't contact. Are they pushing hygene measures? (NO!)

        Washing your hands to stop infection is something we were taught at first grade of public school. Why

  • by Furmy (854336) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:26AM (#14896492)
    prepared or somewhat prepared to move employees to remote locations or let them work at home,
    It's important to remember that working from home (or remote locations) isn't going to prevent the illness from infecting everyone - it will just prevent everyone from falling ill at the same time.

    The 'attack rate' (ranging from 10 to 35% in most 'plans') is cumulative. It would be much easier to handle 10% revolving ill over a few months than it would be to handle ~35% of staff ill for 2 weeks.

    Remember, too, that if this virus mutates into a human-to-human transmissible form that you'll be just as likely to catch it at the grocery store/transit system than you will at work.

    Wash your hands/keyboards/mice/doorknobs
    • It would be much easier to handle 10% revolving ill over a few months than it would be to handle ~35% of staff ill for 2 weeks.

      Yeah, except this isn't a garden-variety flu bug -- it's incredibly lethal. If this bug mutates to easily spread from person-to-person, you're not talking about revolving ill -- many of these people won't be "revolving" back to the workplace, they'll be dead. Of 34 human cases of H5N1 that hit Asia by February 2004, 23 were fatal. [bird-flu-influenza.com]

    • That is why so many places are unprepared. Most places think that a few small things are the solutions. VPN here, a laptop there. Not a chance. You have to have you comm in place. You have to have your laptops IN place. Why? Because there will be a general panic that takes ahold of society the second that anybody hears that this flu is spread from human-human. A big part of the issue is communication. Many can work with a simple phone call for couple of days. But that fails over a long haul. What is needed
    • VPN doesn't fix everything. It's difficult to put together a good plan. First you need to address internal corporate needs like how to communcate to everybody there is a problem, and have internal systems ready to handle the situation (did you make sure everybody is setup at home to use VPN?). A good disaster plan also needs to address supply and customer issues.

      Does the company take into account possible quarantine restrictions/customs delays for spare parts from Asia? What about contingencies for outs
  • Business IT?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:31AM (#14896507)
    Give me a break! If the virus mutates, spreads human to human and there is a full blown pandemic there is no way in hell I'll be coming to work. Seems wiser to avoid all public places. Facing 50%+ mortality rate, the last thing on my mind is how the damn servers are operating. I can continue tinkering on the MySQL server when we meet up in hell
    • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:37AM (#14896532)
      Exactly! no one is going to give a flying f*ck about IT if this thing becomes the next black death. They'll have to strap hookers to the server racks to get any geeks to the datacenter ... in fact that should be their back up plan.
      • They'll have to strap hookers to the server racks to get any geeks to the datacenter ... in fact that should be their back up plan.
        I don't think that's a good backup plan - tapes are more reliable and hookers are higher maintenance than dvds :p

        Plus there's nothing worse than being in a crisis and finding your backups are fucked !

    • Re:Business IT?? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Furmy (854336)
      Facing 50%+ mortality rate,

      That mortality rate, provided by the WHO for their 'laboratory confirmed cases, only includes people who
      a. became very sick from the infection
      b. obtained medical attention which the WHO recognized
      c. had blood samples tested and confirmed in a lab

      Anyone that became infected and didn't exhibit symptoms wouldn't be included (why would they get tested?), and anyone that died in a remote area wouldn't be included either. The more 'infections' that develop in "1st world" co
      • Right, we can't really predict what a mortality rate from a human bug equivalent of this would be nor can we guess how severe the illness would be. Again, let's hope that this does not materialize at all to begin with.

        As a relatively advanced human civilization, we must take all the precautions we can -- minimizing infection, enforcing sound public health practices and education, maintaining sharp monitoring and reporting globally... but beyond that, it is up to God. And I'm not a religious person, but if y
      • MOD PARENT UP. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Saven Marek (739395)
        Anyone that became infected and didn't exhibit symptoms wouldn't be included (why would they get tested?), and anyone that died in a remote area wouldn't be included either. The more 'infections' that develop in "1st world" countries the better able we will be to determine the true mortality/morbidity rate of avian influenza in humans.


        And this doesn't include a potentially huge number of people who do contract H5N1 flu from birds and display nothing more than normal flu symptoms, get over it in a couple of
    • by cgenman (325138) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:59AM (#14896620) Homepage
      In hell, the servers all run Access.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:34AM (#14896516)
    A survey last month of 300 Minnesota business officials found most thought a flu pandemic would significantly affect their business, but only 18% had preparedness plans in place.

    I am pretty certain that a flock of winged monkeys, backed up by tap dancing midgets would significantly affect my business. We, sadly, don't have a plan for such an eventuality.

    Just because the majority believe a pandemic would affect their business, that's not the same as saying they believe such a pandemic is likely to happen.

    The last truly staggering flu pandemic was in 1919. Since then we've been about to get nuked, about to have planes flown in to us and about to all die of Sars, or possibly mad cow disease, or West Nile, or possibly flesh eating bacteria - oh, and our computers were all going to assplode on Y2K. It turns out there are lots of exciting panics the media likes to report and yet most of them are either over hyped of Jack Bauer manages to diffuse them before they become an issue for the masses.

    Yes, a flu pandemic would be terrible. Yes, it's even possible - more possible, though less fun, than the winged monkeys. But it's not necessarily probable. Good risk management - as opposed to running around screaming at every perceived risk - involves calculating cost multiplied by probability and comparing options. It's possible most of those businesses, whether rightly or wrongly, just don't believe they need to panic about the latest shocking THREAT TO LIFE AS WE KNOW IT that is yet to do more in the west than make some German cats sick.
    • Please sir, elaborate on these flying monkeys and midgets.
    • Your reaction disgusts me! You should be ashamed! Here we are predicting the imminent demise of USENET, and you're.... what's that? .... Oh, a FLU PANDEMIC? Oh.... Nevermind.

      Seriously, did you catch the last bit in the blurb:

      The H5N1 influenza virus, which originated in Asia, could hit the U.S. this fall, potentially causing an epidemic, the nation's chief avian flu coordinator warned.

      What's he supposed to say? "It's all poppycock, and I'm over-paid"? We're not that naive are we?

    • People are scared stiff that it might have mutated to a mammal. If so, human isn't far behind. Be careful what you scoff!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:59AM (#14896790)
      Oh, they always warn us about the next big hurricane coming to New Orleans, and how it could flood the city, yadda yadda. Doom-and-gloomers. It's never as bad as they say, I'm not going to bother evacuating.
    • Just because the majority believe a pandemic would affect their business, that's not the same as saying they believe such a pandemic is likely to happen.

      Interesting comment. Every time I see phrases like "when it hits the US," it makes me wonder - seriously. It hasn't "hit" anywhere else with significance, so why would it "hit" the US? Does the US have a special nation-sized bullseye on it? Is there something special about the genetic makeup of US citizens? It almost makes me think we're being primed for so
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:30AM (#14896872) Homepage Journal
      It doesn't need to be "truly staggering" to cause significant problems and economic harm. Pandemics do happen, it isn't a matter of if or probabilities, but when, and how hard will the next one hit. By averages, the human population is a bit overdue for one and I don't see what we have done in the last few decades that would necessarily prevent one from taking place again. There doesn't really seem to be a good way to stop the regular flu very well.

      Also, sequencing data has shown that the H5N1 to be a lot more like the 1918 bug than scientists seem to be comfortable with, and is spreading in ways that weren't expected at a speed that wasn't expected. While it isn't cause for alarm, it is cause for concern and should be considered as a part of any emergency preparedness plan.
      • By averages, the human population is a bit overdue for one and I don't see what we have done in the last few decades that would necessarily prevent one from taking place again.

        Times have really changed. I'm the first to reach for history when it's relevant, but I'm not sure it is in this case. In the plus column, we have incomparably better communication than we did in 1918, and incomparably better detection and tracking. (It is by no means perfect, but good lucking getting a gene sequencing done in 1918.)
    • >The last truly staggering flu pandemic was in 1919.

      That's part of the problem right there. The virologists, at least the ones who get quoted, think there's a natural cycle of breakout flu pandemics with a period of about 50 years.

      Panic is bad planning but so is complacency. Why not do business continuity planning including a scenario where N% of employees can't come to work for M weeks? Then you've covered the possibility of a flu pandemic, plus the posssibility of a natural disaster that makes your emp
    • Oh God no, I am sitting here, reading this with my beloved cat Kalinka on my lap. And I live in Germany, close to a Sperrgebiet. This may be the last time I post here. Goodbye to you all.

  • ...extra server bandwidth, since everyone affected will be stuck at home with nothing to do except surf and download stuff...
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:36AM (#14896525)
    Let's get something clear, "pandemic" doesn't mean a flu that is afflicting employees, so they get a little sniffle and stay home from work until they get better. A mutated H5N1 or similar pandemic, that spreads human to human with something like 50% mortality rate means that public places become a death trap. If you catch the bug and are unable to recover from it, you need to be treated at a hospital... except the hospitals are totally full and there aren't enough health care workers. Have you seen how the major cities are trying to plan for a "pandemic" situation? They are talking about how to deal with piles of corpses once the graveyards are full.

    PUBLIC DOESN'T GET IT. If there is a pandemic, you don't go to work. You don't go to the mall, you don't go to school and you don't go out partying on the weekend. This is serious stuff. It hasn't happened yet and let's pray that it does not happen (easy human-to-human spread of lethal virus) but the situation at the IT department is totally irrelevant. Go to your job if you want to die.
    • by scottv67 (731709) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:45AM (#14896561)
      If there is a pandemic, you don't go to work.

      But what about those of us who work in the I.T. depts of healthcare providers? Wouldn't you want us to go to work during the "pandemic" to make sure that things keep running to handle the large influx of patients at clinics and hospitals?

      Somebody's got to be at work to make sure that when you or a relative shows up at the hospital, your electronic records can be accessed, imaging applications are working correctly and medications can be dispensed.
      • No, no they don't. You'd do no good.

        You're dealing with so many patients that the hospitals won't have room to stack them, let alone time to look up their records.

        There won't be enough Tylenol in the infirmary, let alone more exotic drugs like antivirals.

        The United States has approximately 548 doctors, 280 hospital beds and 772 nurses per 100,000 people.

        In a pandemic with 50% infected, each doctor would have to care for twenty people, and each nurse for twelve. Those hospital beds would be somewhat overload
        • No, no they don't. You'd do no good.

          You're dealing with so many patients that the hospitals won't have room to stack them, let alone time to look up their records.


          Ok, I'll give you that. When it gets *really* bad, things are going to get out-of-hand.

          But how do I know when I need to stop reporting for work? Is someone going to announce the official start of the pandemic on CNBC or CNN?
          What is the "high water mark" that I need to watch for so I know that it's time to stay home?

          A local school was
        • The United States has approximately 548 doctors, 280 hospital beds and 772 nurses per 100,000 people.
          In a pandemic with 50% infected, each doctor would have to care for twenty people, and each nurse for twelve.


          Check your math. That's 50,000 infected people (274 of whom are doctors, leaving only 274 to care for the patients); making over 180 patients per doctor, nearly 130 per nurse. The mere idea of a hospital bed with 357 patients and three nurses would tax even the Spice Channel.
          • by Baddas (243852) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:40AM (#14897026) Homepage
            The disparity lies in the fact that some portion of the people who fall ill do not require (or recieve, however one looks at it) hospitalization, either through fast onset of morbidity and mortality (unable to get to a hospital in a town with even fewer ambulances than hospital beds), or through having a lower level of symptoms (not needing hospitalization at all).

            For "normal" flu, this level is approximately 1%. However, if we extrapolate from the fact that pandemic flu (of whatever type, be it bird flu or the 1918 flu) often has a mortality rate 25 times that of normal flu (0.1% vs 2.5% for 1918) then you can see that perhaps a quarter of the people would be hospitalized.

            Again, this is all guesswork, and either way it's entirely beyond any theoretical capability of the medical system to cope with.
      • Back when I was young, when the Spanish Flu hit, we didn't have computers and still we contained it to Spain... and we had to go to work during the "pandemic" and we didn't have any cars, we had to walk, uphill, both ways...
      • Wouldn't you want us to go to work during the "pandemic" to make sure that things keep running to handle the large influx of patients at clinics and hospitals?

        Queue the government.

        They pay people to do disaster & contingency planning for situations like this.

        In theory, the Fed/State Government stockpile antibiotics and/or vaccines, so that the people in charge of (and required to run) critical infrastructure will get taken care of. Those people include obvious and not so obvious fields and industries.

        So

        • That's true, however, unless you're specifically, personally told to go to work due to being in a "critically needed" job, you stay home. During a pandemic outbreak, the vast, vast majority of people would be told to sit on their asses.

          In fact, depending on the exact circumstances, martial law might very well become a serious consideration: When everyone including the police are quarantined, who is to stop the looters? Congress (from suitable distance as to not infect each other, surely) would have to void
      • There will always be diseases you can't cure/treat in time. Quarantine works for these diseases.

        Everyone stays in their designated areas, lives and dies where they are, for a set period. That way any pandemic will either die out or evolve and become sublethal or those that have inherent immunity would survive it.

        The Gov has to make sure there's a sufficient stash of fuel, food and drinking water in the various locations so that people can survive for the set period.

        Forget about hospitals. You get a critical
      • Somebody's got to be at work to make sure that when you or a relative shows up at the hospital, your electronic records can be accessed, imaging applications are working correctly and medications can be dispensed.

        Most people don't work at a hospital. And hospitals would be far better equipped to protect their employees from infection. The original poster is talking about people working at nonessential jobs, which frankly is most of the population.

    • Pandemics occur all the time. HIV is occuring right now. Flu has struck all through history and will strike again. People will go to work, because they can not afford to not work. More importantly, ppl want a routine. That does not mean that you need to change 100%. But if you are wise, you will change a number of things.

      Here are some thoughts for you:
      • The cashier at 711 will great you while wearing gloves and a mask.
      • The stores will pick up RFID in ahurry.
      • If anybody was smart right now, they would inv
    • Another issue is that the medical and political community does seem to have some very sad questions on how they should perform triage. There is concern that health workers would have to decide who lives and who dies, and they are concerned about how the public would react to that, because lately, it is not often that a person is removed from life support just so they can transfer equipment to help someone that is more likely to live if they had that equipment. My understanding is that there isn't enough e
  • Dual use (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Indigo (2453)
    Just remember, the same disaster plan that will keep the company going if half the employees die in a flu pandemic, will keep it going if those same employees are simply laid off. Which is more likely to happen?
  • by Black Art (3335) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @12:57AM (#14896610)
    If you take five unconnected sick days in a 12 month period, you are subject to disciplinary action. More than that and they can do anything, including firing you. No excuses. (Unless you qualify for short term disability.)

    I work for a "Healthcare company".
    • > If you take five unconnected sick days in a 12 month period, you are subject to disciplinary action. More than that and they can do anything, including firing you. No excuses.

      Well, if you get the flu be sure to show up long enough to infect your bosses and everybody at HR before you go home to bed where you belong.
    • I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you my friend are a moron. My bad if you're making 200-300% above the going rate in your area, but if not, why oh why are you working there? It's obvious with a "rule" like that your employee expects to wring every last ounce of viable labor out of you without regard to your health, happiness, or well being. Take your talent and move on. Life is way to short to be shafted like that.
      • I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you my friend are a moron. My bad if you're making 200-300% above the going rate in your area, but if not, why oh why are you working there? It's obvious with a "rule" like that your employee expects to wring every last ounce of viable labor out of you without regard to your health, happiness, or well being. Take your talent and move on. Life is way to short to be shafted like that.

        I plan on it. I just found out about that rule today. (After coming down with th

    • only 5 unconnected days in twelve months!!!... where I work, I only get disciplinary action if I have a suspicious pattern and more than twelve in a year... hell, I could be signed off sick for six weeks solid before the wheels are set in motion to assess my future position with the company.
  • The Keyboard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qualico (731143) <worldcouchsurfer ... com minus distro> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:06AM (#14896650) Journal
    Those of us who repair computers for a living are exposed to a banquet of germs on every service call.

    Exercising ones immune system, the keyboard has to be the heaviest load.

    If there is a pandemic, the first thing to disinfect will be keyboards.

    And why are we taught to sneeze and cough into the hands?
    I bury my face into my arm to segregate the infectious spray.
    The public would do well to be educated to do the same.
    • Exercising ones immune system, the keyboard has to be the heaviest load.

      When I got my first job in the State Government I thought it was hilarious (being a fan of Douglas Adams) they we had telephone cleaners who came around once a month and disinfected the phones.

      In those days you shared your phones so perhaps it made good sense. I won't make jokes about telephone cleaners again.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you've seen the keyboards where I work, I should be immune to just about everything but a gunshot wound, (but I'm sure Dick Cheney's got a task force working on that one)
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @01:30AM (#14896712)
    This would be the least of our worries.

    Some cities (not towns) lost 10% of their population in the last big flu pandemic.

    Think what that means--

    No food
    Maybe no water
    Definately not a lot of traveling about.
    Hospitals completely overloaded

    So if you are -really- worried about this...
    Make sure you have 2-4 weeks of dry and canned food (pasta is decent).
    Have some kind of power that doesn't depend on gasoline (don't need a lot- just some for radio).
    Make sure you have 2-4 weeks of water (that's a lot- so maybe just have 25 gallons and be ready to fill extra containers if the water gets erratic).

    The food is most critical- quarantines are possible- loss of food transportation is possible.
    Water and power are less likely to be disrupted.

    Mostly- just hope this doesn't happen- we run a lot closer to the edge than they did inventory wise. Even a mild disruption and there is no food on the shelves.
    • 2-4 weeks of food? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Uh, the 1918-1919 flu came in three waves over two years [cdc.gov]. I don't know what a month of food is gonna do. I guess maybe you'll last a month longer, but you're probably gonna need more than that.

      Moreover:

      The impact of this pandemic was not limited to 1918-1919. All influenza A pandemics since that time, and indeed almost all cases of influenza A worldwide (excepting human infections from avian viruses such as H5N1 and H7N7), have been caused by descendants of the 1918 virus, including "drifted" H1N1 viruses

      • From the article, it was over a 12 month period. Early 1918 to early 1919. An earlier epidemic starting in 1889 was longer (lasting 2-3 years) so the duration could be a real problem. The point I think is not that you can last the whole duration of the epidemic without stepping outside, but that you have a buffer if food transport breaks down. After all, society should be able to restore food transport after a time. But it'll keep you from having to search for food during the worst times to be looking for i
  • somewhat prepared to move employees to remote locations

    You think I'm moving to a remote location in the event of a pandemic, to save your business? Like hell I will. I'll be bunkering up at home, while stockpiling tinned food and ammo.

    • You think shooting the birds is going to stop the disease spreading? I'd suggest an anti-scaling fence, seeing as you don't need to open (or blow a hole in) your window/front door in order for your home to be protected against unwanted intrusions.
  • This article was the first I heard of the post. I tried googling and the best I could come up with was a UN avian flu coordinator. And his statements that I found on the sites that came up does seem to dispell some of the doom and gloom so prevalent in the mass media. His own words seem to put a bit of perspective on the situation:

    At the same time, I think it would be foolish for us to ignore the possibility that there will be another influenza pandemic. Indeed, there are many who say that it's certai

  • by zxnos (813588) <zxnoss@gmail.com> on Saturday March 11, 2006 @02:22AM (#14896843)
    The H5N1 influenza virus, which originated in Asia, could hit the U.S. this fall, potentially causing an epidemic, the nation's chief avian flu coordinator warned.

    i [mostlyfiction.com] think homeland security needs to keep an eye on this guy...

  • is here to stay. One big mistake that is made already is that when a farm gets infected every bird is killed. This will interrupt the natural selection that allows the individuals that can survive the virus to propagate their genes. It may seem cruel, but if I have a stock that is able to survive the bird flu at the next hit I will be better off next time. Of corse that the farms has to be isolated, but that is relatively easy in western society.

    Humankind has survived several pandemics already, like the b

  • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @03:06AM (#14896947) Journal
    Dear Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni (Director, NIH):

    I know American companies have to be more efficient, and workers need to handle more tasks and title responsibilities in order for productivity to increase. But I think if you stop forcing office workers to handle live poultry, you'll prevent the only known vector for contracting the disease [wikipedia.org].

    We would be learning from the mistakes of other cultures; like China, whose individuals are known to raise their own poultry livestock at their residences. This is not as outlandish as it sounds. After all, America has seeemed to have learned from the French to avoid mandatory limits to hours worked per week.

    Alternately, if you still think there is a credible concern for the H5N1 virus to mutate to a human communicable form, then I'd suggest taking care of the AIDS epidemic first. AIDS is incurable, and I'm sure you're worried about that virus mutating into a form transmissible by contact, sneezing, or become airborne. Will you be recommending mass cullings of AIDS sufferers? or merely enforced, indefinite quarantine?

    I'm sure guys like Rumsfeldt and Frist would welcome gov't financing of vaccine research, but I think Iraq has taken away all of the money available for discretionary spending in the budget. I guess they'll have to take lobbyist jobs, like everyone else.
    • How did this get modded as insightful?

      Alternately, if you still think there is a credible concern for the H5N1 virus to mutate to a human communicable form, then I'd suggest taking care of the AIDS epidemic first. AIDS is incurable, and I'm sure you're worried about that virus mutating into a form transmissible by contact, sneezing, or become airborne.

      AIDS is an entirerly different virus family to influenza, and as such there is no expectation of a form transmissible by contact - there's probably someth

  • Company A CEO: "Thank god we spent all that time and money putting in place those safe guards for the bird flu pandemic when company B did absolutely nothing! Now let's use the advantage and sell lots of stuff!"

    Company A COO: "Err... All of our staff and customers are dead. I'm afraid it's just you and me left in this $5 billion state of the art clean room.... Want to see me naked?"
  • hah. my boss would be the first one to call in sick, and the rest of us barely show up to work as it is.

    Chances are, we'd never even notice little things like bird flu.. armageddon.. Hurricanes..
  • I made the mistake of digging for primary material last year, after an argument with my boss about the effectiveness of Tamiflu. (My employer's classed as 'critical infrastructure', so we have 500 full courses of Tamiflu stockpiled with our names on; the boss asserted that this meant we had nothing to worry about.) However, if you look for coverage in respected journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine [nejm.org] or 'Nature', you will see that one of the major problems being planned for is the sudden dispo
  • just some official background from the government site (some removed to get it to post correctly, more at the URLs)

    http://pandemicflu.gov/ [pandemicflu.gov]

    related link and info

    http://pandemicflu.gov/general/ [pandemicflu.gov]

    A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in very short time.

    It
  • So, if a pandemic does hit, that pretty much means life as we know it will come to a crawl. After Katrina, the entire nation (and the world, but as an American, I can only personally relate to the effect on the ol US of A) was in a world of hurt. Granted, it wasn't disastrous for the rest of the country, but it definitely put a dent in our paycheck.
    Now, if something like this pandemic hits, then there will be an extreme need for IT folk to take care of the infrastructre that the entire modern medical comm
  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @06:25AM (#14897365)
    Its absolutely essential to keep chickens and swans out of the server room. Get them out NOW!
  • Immunize the kids (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @09:25AM (#14897756) Journal
    Yes, yes, I know, there isn't a proven vaccine for H5N1 yet, but the likelihood of creating one is fairly reasonable to expect. So...

    Get every shcool age child, especially those under 12, into a clinic to be vaccinated. From the view of protecting the public, the CDCs limits on vaccinations for the elderly, infant, and asthmatic make little sense. Yes, I know - those are the people most likely to die from influenza, they should get vaccinated, too. But little kids are such a strong vector for any disease - primarily due to their lack of proper hygene regimen - that they should really be the ones to target. Keep the kids from getting it and its far less likely to be passed from child to child in school/daycare/playgroup, and then to the rest of the family (including elderly relatives), and on through the chain of human interaction.

    I would gladly give up my dose if I knew that every kid in every primary school would get theirs.

    BTW - I heard that a bunch of flu vaccine went to waste this year in the US. I'm prat of the problem because I didn't get mine. Why? I wasn't allowed to until after a certain date. By the time that date came around, we were half way through the flu season. I suspect most of us in the "healthy" population figured that by the time we were allowed to get vaccinated and it take full effect, we would be through most of the flu season, and there would be no point. It's like buying disabiliy insurance when your a year or two from retirement...why bother? Good intentions (by the CDC), but poorly implemented. It will only make it harder for the companies making these (relatively) low-margin products to continue.
  • by frank249 (100528) on Saturday March 11, 2006 @10:03AM (#14897857)
    Each year between 50 - 100 people per million of population die from the various forms of influenza that are commonly refered to as flu. Since 1997, only 50 people who had close contact with birds have died from Avian flu. [cdc.gov] The media is full of reports that this flu has the potential to become a pandemic. If so, it could kill between 5 to 250 million people. Most likely it will only be 5 people ... but it could be 250 million!

    So wait a minute, doesn't every disease have the chance to mutate into something much worse not just avian flu? AIDs is incurable, has infected hundreds of millions and is transmited only by contact. What if it mutated so it was spread airborne? Everyday millions of bad things could happen but don't and we are not panicking over all of them.

    So ask yourself why all the fuss? What is going on that could benefit from people being distracted?

    Could it be the war in Iraq, scandals, economy, politics? Take your pick. We should be demanding the media to focus on the real issues and hold the politician's feet to the fire and not be distracted by nonissues.

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." - The Beach Boys

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