Welcome to swine flu Quarantine - Day 3

Today was the day of quarantine when you start to think, "hey, people are freaking out over nothing." All the talking heads are like "those people are over reacting. It's the flu. Yesh."

Then you get an email like this:

Subject: Flu Update from Dr. Gitterle (doctor in New Braunfels, a town close to here)

After I returned from a public health meeting yesterday with community leaders
and school officials in Comal County, Heather suggested I send an update to
everyone, because what we are hearing privately from the CDC and Health
Department is so different from what you are hearing in the media. Some
of you know some or maybe all of this, but I will just list what facts I know.

- The virus is infectious for about 2 days prior to symptom onset
- Virus sheds more than 7 days after symptom onset (possibly as long as 9 days) (this is unusual)
- Since it is such a novel (new) virus, there is no "herd immunity," so the "attack rate" is very high. This is the percentage of people who come down with a virus if exposed. Almost everyone who is exposed to this virus will become infected, though not all will be symptomatc. That is much higher than seasonal flu, which averages 10-15%. The "clinical attack rate" may be around 40-50%. This is the number of people who show symptoms.. This is a huge number. It is hard to convey the seriousness of this.
- The virulence (deadliness) of this virus is as bad here as in Mexico, and there are folks on ventilators here in the US, right now. This has not been in the media, but a 23 month old near here is fighting for his life, and a pregnant woman just south of San Antonio is fighting for her life. In Mexico, these folks might have died already, but here in the US, folks are getting Tamiflu or Relenza quickly, and we have ready access to ventilators.
What this means is that within a couple of weeks, regional hospitals will likely become overwhelmed.
- Some of the kids with positive cases in Comal County had more than 70 contacts before diagnosis.
- There are 10-25 times more actual cases (not "possible" cases -- actual), than what is being reported in the media. The way they fudge on reporting this is that it takes 3 days to get the confirmatory nod from the CDC on a given viral culture, but based on epidemiological grounds, we know that there are more than 10 cases for each "confirmed" case right now.
- During the night, we crossed the threshold for the definition of a WHO, Phase 6 global pandemic. This has not happened in any of our lifetimes so far. We are in uncharted territory.
- I expect President Obama will declare an emergency sometime in the next 72-96 hours. This may not happen, but if it doesn't, I will be surprised. When this happens, all public gathering will be cancelled for 10 days.
- I suggest all of us avoid public gatherings. Outdoor activities are not as likely to lead to infection. It is contained areas and close contact that are the biggest risk.
- Tamiflu is running out. There is a national stockpile, but it will have to be carefully managed, as it is not enough to treat the likely number of infections when this is full-blown. I don't think there is a big supply of Relenza, but I do not know those numbers. If I had to choose, I would take Relenza, as I think it gets more drug to the affected tissue than Tamiflu.
- You should avoid going to the ER if you think you have been exposed or are symptomatic. ER's south of here are becoming overwhelmed -- and I mean that -- already. It is coming in waves, but the waves are getting bigger.
- It appears that this flu produces a distinctive "hoarseness" in many victims. The symptoms, in general, match other flu's; namely, sore throat, body aches, headache, cough, and fever. Some have all these symptoms, while others may have only one or two.

Okie dokie. And here I was just planning a trip tomorrow to Target and Petsmart. Contemplating life as if it were just an over reaction and it was time to have fun. See what TV does to you?!

Needless to say, we're not going shopping. Suddenly the great outdoors sounds greater than ever. That and cable.

Today there was swings:

Swimming in the spa, and snacks.

I also finished a video for work, let me know if you find it compelling. It's supposed to be compelling but it's tough to get opinions here in the isolation ward.