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Bird flu Remains Potent Threat

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posted on Dec, 7 2006 @ 12:32 PM
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Despite public complacency, bird flu remains a potent threat, warns the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). H5N1 bird flu already has decimated the poultry industries in several nations and "well over 200 million birds have died worldwide from either the H5N1 flu virus or preventive culling." H5N1 has been found in more than 50 countries since reappearing in 2003, and has spread to Africa, indicating greater danger. To date, only 258 humans have been confirmed as infected, with 154 human deaths.

However, accurate diagnosis in humans remains a huge problem, and reliable diagnostic tests are high on the UN wish list. False negatives are common with current tests - many of the diagnosed victims listed by the WHO tested negative in up to 9 diagnostic tests before being confirmed as positive for the H5N1 virus. Some scientists say the toll in humans is much higher than what's shown by existent but unreliable diagnostic tests.

Finally, a new study shows that H5N1 can be expected to spread to North America via poultry imports, NOT migratory birds. Of note, the feared mutation allowing efficient human-to-human transmission might take place anywhere, and could evolve from low-path strains already present in North American.




Bird flu virus 'still smoldering,' U.S. expert says

Dr. Robert Webster, whose vaccine the U.S. government plans to use in case of an outbreak, told CNN (last year), "If this virus learns to transmit human to human and maintains that level of killing, we've got a global catastrophe." ...That worldwide pandemic hasn't yet materialized, and bird flu has been out of the headlines for a while. But we may be in for another round of news. ...Last week South Korea announced two new outbreaks in poultry. And Dr. Timothy Uyeki of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said he's bracing for another surge in human infections. "When the temperature drops and the humidity drops, that's when you start seeing more poultry outbreaks. And when you see poultry outbreaks, that's when you see human cases." ..."It's still smoldering," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads U.S. scientific efforts to combat bird flu.

Three recent papers in the New England Journal of Medicine illustrate serious roadblocks to understanding and controlling the virus. The first describes three clusters of cases within families in Indonesia, eight patients in all. In two of the clusters, the authors said it's quite possible one person caught the disease, then passed it to family members. ...Worldwide, about a third of all cases involve family clusters and there are a handful of cases where the virus likely passed from person to person, he said.

...Webster and another prominent flu expert said efforts to eradicate the virus, through killing infected chicken flocks or by vaccinating poultry, have largely failed. Worse, they said, many vaccines used in Asia are of poor quality and are pushing the virus to mutate faster, in potentially more dangerous directions. ..."It's been a really rare human disease to date," Uyeki cautions, but "who can predict what's going to happen? We better continue to monitor and plan. To ignore this would be insane."

***

Bird flu remains potent threat with possibility of human pandemic

The bird flu virus, with its possible mutation into a deadly human pandemic, remains a potent threat around the world, with greater transparency and sharing of information critical to meet the challenge, and Africa emerging as a top priority for resources and technical aid, according to the latest United Nations update released today. ...FAO said several parts of the world remain particularly vulnerable because of a shortfall in donor funding, including Africa, eastern Europe and the Caucasus, and Indonesia where just this year there have been 55 human cases, 45 of them fatal. ...well over 200 million birds have died worldwide from either the H5N1 flu virus or preventive culling...

“The possibility of a human pandemic hangs over us,” FAO warned ...H5N1 remains a “potent threat around the world, both to animals and humans,” it said, noting that with the arrival of the virus this year in Africa there is much cause for concern. ...“Africa must now be a top priority for resources and technical assistance in the battle against avian influenza,” it added, also calling for continued commitment to unaffected parts of the world like Latin America and the Caribbean, “where FAO’s investment in national and regional preparedness planning is paying off.”

Winning the battle against the virus demands a long-term vision, with more surveillance, rapid response to outbreaks and greater transparency and sharing of information essential. “Scientific breakthroughs on improved diagnostics, vaccines and treatments can only emerge if virus information is shared widely and willingly, for the greater good,” FAO said. ...Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza David Nabarro said last month $1.5 billion is needed worldwide over the next two to three years for preventive measures. So far, FAO has received $76 million for its, and agreements have been signed for $25 million more, with a further $60 million in the pipeline.

***

U.N.: bird flu virus still a powerful threat, vulnerable regions include Africa and eastern Europe

The H5N1 bird flu virus remains a powerful threat to animals and humans, and the most vulnerable regions include southeast Asia, Africa, eastern Europe and the Caucasus, the U.N. food agency said Wednesday.

"The possibility of a human pandemic hangs over us," the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warned...

"Failure by any one country to contain the disease could lead to rapid re-infection in many more countries," said Alexander Muller, assistant director-general at FAO. "One weak link can lead to a domino effect, undoing all the good that we have achieved so far. Now is no time for complacency."

***

Bird flu Experts

The outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza began in Asia in 2003 and spread rapidly in early 2006. ...It has now been detected in more than 50 countries around the world, including eight in Africa, where experts fear veterinary and human health systems are inadequate to contain outbreaks.

...(RE) the devastating effects on vital poultry industries in poor and densely populated countries ..."The potential costs of an influenza pandemic would be of the order of $1-2 trillion ... and the actual cost of avian influenza thus far has been in the multiple billions of dollars," Nabarro said.

***

US CDC contracts for new, faster bird flu tests

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday it had awarded $11.4 million for developing new, quick tests for influenza to four U.S. companies. ...The idea is to come up with reliable, on-the-spot tests for H5N1 avian influenza, the CDC said in a statement.

Current quick tests can tell if a person is infected with influenza A or B, but they do not identify the strain and reports suggest the tests miss influenza in patients infected with H5N1.

"We have seen avian influenza infections since 1997 but we unfortunately still do not have a good way to quickly and easily distinguish at a patient's bedside whether they suffer from H5N1 or a more common type of influenza," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. ..."These contracts will support development of promising technology that could help doctors treat their patients faster and help public health authorities track influenza viruses that could spur a pandemic." ...Currently, to test for H5N1, samples from the patient must be sent a specialized testing lab, which can sometimes take more than a week. This would be too slow to stop the spread of a pandemic, experts say.





continued...




posted on Dec, 7 2006 @ 12:34 PM
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continued from above...



Scientists Criticize U.S. Bird Flu Search

Birds from Latin America - not from the north - are most likely to bring deadly bird flu to the main U.S., researchers said Monday, suggesting the government might miss the H5N1 virus because biologists have been looking in the wrong direction. ...The United States' $29 million bird flu surveillance program has focused heavily on migratory birds flying from Asia to Alaska, where researchers this year collected tens of thousands of samples from wild birds nesting on frozen tundra before making their way south. ...Those birds present a much lower risk than migratory birds that make their way north from South America through Central America and Mexico, where controls on imported poultry are not as tough as in the U.S. and Canada, according to findings in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The risk is actually higher from the poultry trade to the Americas than from migratory birds," said Kilpatrick, of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine in New York. Other researchers on the study came from the Smithsonian Institution. ...If bird flu arrives in Mexico or somewhere farther south, it could be a matter of time before a migratory bird carries the virus to the United States, Kilpatrick said. ..."It's not just a matter of worrying about who you trade with, but it's a matter of thinking about who do your neighbors trade with, and who do your trading partners trade with," Kilpatrick said. "We need to be looking both south and north." ...The study concluded that "current American surveillance plans that focus primarily on the Alaskan migratory bird pathway may fail to detect the introduction of H5N1 into the United States in time to prevent its spread into domestic poultry."

The report is the first to combine the DNA fingerprint of the H5N1 virus in different countries with data on the movement of migratory birds and commercial poultry in those countries. ...The study found that:
* Bird flu was spread through Asia by the poultry trade.
* Most of the spread throughout Europe was from migratory birds.
* Bird flu spread into Africa from migratory birds as well as poultry trade.

***

U.S. Bird Flu Detection Plan Is Wild Goose Chase

Officials are looking in the wrong place to stop the spread of bird flu to the U.S., a new study suggests. ...The report predicts that bird flu will likely spread to the Americas through infected poultry. This poultry may then infect local wild birds...

***

Poultry trade likely route for bird flu to Americas, experts say

The H5N1 strain of bird flu is most likely to enter North America through infected poultry trade, researchers say. ...British and American researchers studied how H5N1 moved out of China, across Asia and Europe and into the Middle East and Africa. The poultry trade was often the source, with migrating fowl then spreading it, they concluded.

"We conclude that the most effective strategy to prevent H5N1 from being introduced into the Western Hemisphere would be strict controls or a ban on the importation of poultry and wild birds into the Americas and stronger enforcement to curb illegal trade," they wrote in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

About three-quarters of new diseases originate in animals, the researchers noted. ...Genetic testing allowed most of the H5N1 outbreaks to be traced to the poultry trade, migratory birds or wild birds, but some outbreaks remained, such as those in South Korea, Russia, India, Pakistan and Cameroon, the researchers said. ...Illegal trade in chicken feces for fertilizer and fish food could be a culprit.





All of the news coverage focuses on the as-yet-unrealized pandemic potential of a highly virulent flu with a high fatality rate.

However, I support the underground "bird flu hypothesis," which is NOT discussed publicly:

Bird flu already is widespread, and has been bouncing back and forth between birds, animals and people for some time - the greatest danger is NOT its potential for a high fatality rate. Rather, the real danger from a bird flu pandemic is the disease's ability to exacerbate the already-existent chronic disease pandemic.

The microbiology: It appears that an infectious prion is hitchhiking on the bird flu virus, and causing myofibroblast proliferation in the body's connective tissues. This proliferation results in pathological "tissue remodeling," which in turn destroys vital organs and systems, usually quite slowly.

Occasionally, the tissue remodeling occurs rapidly in vital organs and is quickly fatal. Referred to as a "cytokine storm," such rapid myofibroblast proliferation and tissue remodeling tends to occur in younger patients with healthy, efficient immune systems - because the prion uses the immune system to spread through the body.

More often however, the prions spread through the body very slowly. The disease may take decades to destroy enough tissue to create symptoms, and even longer to cause death.

The potential economic and social impacts are beyond frightening. Most of the world's nations already are reeling from the impacts of the chronic disease pandemic, including the costs of supporting people who are becoming disabled at younger and younger ages, as well as the disease's ability to cause genetic mutations and thus, to create 'genetic disease.'

IMO - The only way to deal with this pandemic threat is to openly share information and data for the common good, not profit.

And oh yeah, stop killing off all the microbiologists who actually know what's happening.


.



posted on Dec, 7 2006 @ 12:40 PM
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I think that this is a potential catastrophy. It would be a good think for people to get prepared for this...just in case it becomes a reality.

When I've read articles about a pandemic before, one of the most startling aspects is that it may come in multiple waves. First wave comes, many people get sick/die and just about the time that you think that you're safe, here comes another wave.

Also, it's the young healthy people that are most affected by this. Who will be carrying out the bodies when the dump truck comes by with the horn blaring "Bring out your dead...Bring out your dead.

Who will be driving the trucks.

Who will be at the emergency rooms... It's the 20-50 year olds who will try to hold the country together and suffer from the highest mortality.



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 10:11 AM
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Originally posted by Wildbob77
I think that this is a potential catastrophy. It would be a good think for people to get prepared for this...just in case it becomes a reality.




You're so right wildbob. Unfortunately.

And it's winter. And winter is flu season. Heads up.

True, it is impossible to predict if the big one will hit this year - but nations around the world are gearing up for a flu pandemic.

The following statements were made at the International Conference on Avian Influenza in Bamako, Mali by Ambassador John E. Lange, Special Representative on Avian and Pandemic Influenza, U.S. Department of State, and published by the US government on December 7, 2006.



Pandemic Preparedness: Information Systems and Health Services Capacity-Building

Within the last year, avian influenza in poultry has spread from 14 countries to 55. For the first time, highly pathogenic avian influenza was found on the continent of Africa. More humans have become infected, and over half of those infected have died. The global situation for avian influenza is not improving.

We do not know if the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus will someday mutate or re-assort to the point of sustained and efficient human-to-human transmission. But we do know that influenza viruses have threatened animal and human populations for centuries. The three human influenza pandemics that occurred in the 20th century each resulted in illness in approximately 30 percent of the world population and death in 0.2 percent to 2 percent of those infected. Our Implementation Plan and our cooperative international efforts focus on an outbreak of influenza with pandemic potential, not just on the H5N1 virus.

Our Implementation Plan envisages the following policies and actions for U.S. public diplomacy and public-health specialists to explain and advocate:
* Emphasizing the importance of international cooperation and efforts complementary to those of multilateral organizations to contain the spread of the virus;
* Elevating pandemic influenza on national agendas, stressing the role of committed high-level political leadership in containment efforts;
* Advocating transparency in surveillance and reporting of suspected animal and human cases;
* Encouraging the sharing of epidemiological data and samples with WHO, FAO, OIE, and the world community to detect and track outbreaks;
* Assisting others to develop pandemic preparedness plans, build public and animal health capacity, strengthen communications infrastructures, increase logistical capability, and prepare to take effective countermeasures;
* Mobilizing and coordinating global resources; and
* Enhancing public awareness and knowledge of protective measures.




Individuals and families do need to prepare for isolation and quarantine, as you say.

Some Pandemic Preparedness plans recommend stockpiling supplies for 3 days - but most recommend 3 months, as does flu guru Dr. Robert Webster and the original US government's warning to citizens living in Hong Kong.


Here's how to survive a severe pandemic: Prepare to become self-sufficient for several months; stockpile nonperishable food, water, disinfectants, prescription medication, office supplies, batteries and generators, air-filter masks, cash (small bills), portable gas cookware, entertainment for the kids, and so on. If you happen to be shopping for an air purifier anyway, make sure it has a UV component like these - that's the only type that will actually kill a virus. Consider having to take care of a sick family member if a hospital is out of the question; this would require the antivirals Tamiflu or Relenza (Relenza is likely to be more effective, since Tamiflu more quickly provokes resistance), as well as drugs for nausea, fever, pain, and muscle aches; basic medical supplies like gloves, masks, and a blood pressure monitor would also be prudent.

How To Survive the Avian Flu, Smallpox, or Plague




Also see:

My Disaster Shopping List

U.S. Bird Flu Plan: Don't Count on Government Rescue



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 04:01 PM
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Here's a quick overview of the MUCH bigger problem with bird flu:

Beyond Bird Flu: The Perfect Microbial Storm



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 05:55 PM
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I'm a 4/5 quad that dabbles in local politics in the NE Usa. A state legislator told me on the sly to equip my home ASAP with an electric generator and to be prepared for a 6-9 week gap of little to none public utilities, if the pandemic strikes. I got the generator. This really is no joke.



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 06:21 PM
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having just gotten over the regular flu which left me in bed for a week and half, I find the threat of a pandemic to be very very scary. You get sick Friday night, by Monday morning when you finally get to the doctor's office you already have the full blown flu and the early medications that ease the symptoms and durations are pretty much now useless, and that's if you're even able to get to the doctor. Day 3 of the flu and I couldn't leave my bed and had no desire to do so, so just by witnessing what happened in my little family, I can see how horrific this would be if it was strike a large population at once and people were unable to get treatment right away in the let's say the first 48 hours.

It was also rather telling to see how quickly my stockpiles of canned soups, bottled water and juices was diminished as well as the over counter medications that provide some relief.

I was also rather surprised to find that there was a shortage of "oscillococcinum" at the drug stores. (it's a homeopathic remedy to shorten the duration of the flu). Experiencing this has caused me to reconsider exactly what and how much I am and will be stockpiling for any future outbreaks.... and again I need to stress this was just a regional outbreak of the regular flu and not anything nearly as scary as bird flu.

btw thanks for posting the thread and updates Soficrow.



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 06:58 PM
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Ikema - Take care, and I'm glad you got that covered.


Worldwatcher - sorry you were sick, glad you're better. And you're welcome.


I have a pantry - and keep it stocked, just like down home back when. Hey - it works.


I searched the survival / emergency preparedness sites for supply lists, and built up mainly dried foods (beans, rice and fruit), protein powders etc. Have collected water containers to be filled at the first sign of trouble. The first aid kit is restocked - AND my best purchase...

* a crank flashlight/radio with a self-contained generator.

Compulsive that I am, I bought two.



posted on Dec, 8 2006 @ 07:05 PM
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funny you would think I would be well stocked since I'm always hurricane ready, but we actually went through more supplies with the 4 of us sick than when we had no power for weeks with Wilma
It's really the medications that I worry of running out of, food wise we could have lasted weeks, but the cough syrups, vapor rubs, tylenol, sudafed, that sort of thing was quickly diminished. I definitely need to plan and learn more about storing otc medications and home remedies and concoctions that I could perhaps make.



posted on Dec, 10 2006 @ 11:31 AM
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.

The British government needs to "act fast," warns the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences, and Tony Blair should appoint a "flu tsar," says Sir John Skehel of the Academy. Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says, "I believe there's a major risk of a flu pandemic." ...And an editorial in the British Medical Journal warns that this year's Haj pilgrimage to Mecca will increase the risk of creating a flu pandemic.



NEW BIRD FLU PERIL ON WAY

Top virologist John Oxford said that Britain was being "too complacent".

In a new warning last month, the Royal Society and Academy of Medical Sciences urged the Government to act fast.

The Academy's Sir John Skehel said: "The decision to continue to stockpile just one antiviral drug is a major concern." He called on Tony Blair to appoint a "flu tsar". ...Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "I believe there's a major risk of a flu pandemic. We should think about stockpiling more antiviral drugs and facemasks."

***

Haj pilgrims warned of flu attack

People intending to perform Haj this year have been cautioned against a flu pandemic. They have been advised to take an additional flu shot, since Haj is falling in winter. ...“People planning to make the Haj pilgrimage should get flu shots beforehand to reduce the risk of a flu pandemic,” said doctors in the recent issue of British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Respiratory problems are already common during the Haj congregation. ...Aziz Sheikh, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, has issued a warning that such a gathering makes a possibility of a global flu pandemic much more likely. ...Shaikh said that overcrowding was common during Haj and epidemiologists think at least one in three pilgrims would develop respiratory symptoms during the stay.

Such a large gathering represents a major public health risk, according to the editorial in the BMJ, particularly at a time when the risk of a pandemic is thought to be high.




posted on Dec, 11 2006 @ 09:13 AM
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The following article helps explain why bird flu is still a threat on its own, even without teaming up with other zoonoses.



As Bird Flu Panic Subsides, Experts Wonder What Comes Next

Earlier this year, bird flu panic was in full swing: The French feared for their foie gras, the Swiss locked their chickens indoors, and Americans enlisted prison inmates in Alaska to help spot infected wild birds. ...With the feared H5N1 virus - previously confined to Southeast Asia - striking birds in places as diverse as Germany, Egypt, and Nigeria, it seemed inevitable that a flu pandemic would erupt. ...Then the virus went quiet. Except for a steady stream of human cases from Indonesia, the current bird flu epicenter, the past year’s worries about a catastrophic global flu outbreak largely disappeared from the radar screen.

What happened? ...Part of the explanation may be seasonal. Bird flu tends to be most active in the colder months, as the virus survives longer at low temperatures. "Many of us are holding our breaths to see what happens in the winter," said Dr. Malik Peiris, a microbiology professor at Hong Kong University. ...Some experts suspect poultry vaccination has, paradoxically, complicated detection. Vaccination reduces the amount of virus circulating, but low levels of the virus may still be causing outbreaks - without the obvious signs of dying birds. ..."It’s now harder to spot what’s happening with the flu in animals and humans," said Dr. Angus Nicoll, influenza director at the European Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. ...Though human-to-human transmission occurred - ...the virus did not adapt enough to become easily infectious. ...This pandemic near-miss highlighted many of the problems that continue to plague public health officials, namely, patchy surveillance systems and limited virus information.

While the pandemic hasn’t materialized, experts say it’s too early to relax. ...“We have a visible risk in front of us,“ said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of the World Health Organization’s global influenza program. ...Having H5N1 lurking in the environment, ...is essentially like having an unexploded bomb in your garden as the virus spreads even further more people are around to kick the bomb. “It may be a live bomb and actually have pandemic potential,“ Nicoll says. “But it might also simply be a dud.“





PS. worldwatcher - clearwater posted a broad spectrum home remedy on another thread. I do know the science is behind this one: equal parts ginger root, cloves and turmeric; mix with honey to make a paste; take one teaspoon 1/2 hour before eating.


ed to add ps
.

[edit on 11-12-2006 by soficrow]



posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 11:19 PM
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thanks soficrow and clearwater, all ingredients I have on hand.

and in current news:

Vietnam Confirms Bird Flu Outbreak

HANOI, Vietnam -- Thousands of poultry died of bird flu in the past two weeks in southern Vietnam, the government said Wednesday, in the country's first reported outbreak in a year.

Tests showed that some 5,500 month-old ducks and 500 chickens died of the virulent H5N1 bird flu strain in the southern Mekong Delta provinces of Ca Mau and Bac Lieu, said Hoang Van Nam, deputy director of the Department of Animal Health.



posted on Dec, 27 2006 @ 12:16 PM
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Bet on it: Pandemic flu looms

Let's think, for a while, about the unthinkable:
* America's modern medical system grinds into gridlock as victims of a pandemic influenza overflow hospitals and crowd into makeshift wards in school gyms and church halls.
* Schools close because they are "virus factories,'' as Dr. Tom Locke puts it, and crowds aren't allowed to gather at events like basketball games.
* Between sick days and family leave, from a third to half of most businesses' employees are absent -- including those who provide such vital goods as food and fuel, or services like police protection and fire fighting.
* The first wave of illness lasts one month, two, three. Not until four to five months after the outbreak is a vaccine available.

Some of these thoughts are from a worst-case scenario, admits Locke, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties. But you can bet the farm that a pandemic of avian influenza will occur in the foreseeable future, he told a recent public forum on pandemic flu and preparations to avoid it.

'Panflu' preparations
Other strategies against a pandemic -- also dubbed "panflu" -- include:
* Gathering patients in places like gymnasiums -- called "cohorting" -- while the disease runs its one- to two-week course through victims
* Educating people to provide home-based care
* Urging people to get seasonal flu vaccinations, which at least will help health authorities deal with H5N1 cases instead of bouts of seasonal flu
* Limiting travel
* "Social distancing": forbidding people to gather in large numbers at athletic contests or concerts
* Encouraging people to prepare for panflu like they would for earthquakes or windstorms -- only in terms of weeks, perhaps months, instead of the rule-of-thumb 72-hour supply of food, water and medicines.




Okay. I've heard of chickenpox parties - when one kid in a neighborhood gets chickenpox, the moms throw a party, get all the kids together, infect them by 'contact,' and get it all over with at once.

But this is the first time I've heard of "cohorting" being recommended for pandemic flu:

"Gathering patients in places like gymnasiums -- called "cohorting" -- while the disease runs its one- to two-week course through victims."

Sort of like "social distancing" - except the exact opposite.




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