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THE COMING WAVE (An Interview With Mother Abigail)
Tokuisei.Com ^ | 12-14-11 | James Oscar

Posted on 12/14/2011 4:59:02 AM PST by James Oscar


(An Interview With Mother Abigail)

I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you—shelter From the storm”

-Bob Dylan-

TOPICS: Health/Medicine; History; Science
KEYWORDS: freerepublic; h1n1; hiv; lusby; mddeaths; motherabigail; pandemic; ruthblake; tokuisei; virus
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1 posted on 12/14/2011 4:59:07 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #1



While researching the New Media, I became fascinated with the development of the “Flu Blog” [Any internet web site dedicated to monitoring outbreaks of infectious disease]. It seemed to represent – not only the direction – but the form and structure of the changing media in the Internet Age.

My original thesis was to write a series of articles detailing, as thoroughly as possible, the creation of the “Flu Blog” – from inception to mainstream assimilation.

However, as often happens in war and creativity, events overtook the plan.

My derailment occurred in the following manner:

By December of 2006 I had researched, compiled and databased every conceivable factoid relating to the early years of flu blogging. I felt ready to publish my first article and on the second day of 2007 I started posting on various web sites.

I was very pleased with the finished product believing that both technically and factually I had established the main point of my thesis – control of the media was being altered forever and that the evolution was being driven from the bottom up.

Here is that article:



Every beginning is a consequence - every beginning ends some thing
(Paul Valery)

In February of 2003 newspapers, cable news and radio were the interface between the American public and breaking news. It had long been such.

No one set out to destroy the relevancy of these institutions.

Like so much change it just happened. Passion and need mixed with a witches blend of electronic gadgetry created a new paradigm. A paradigm where power was snatched from the media elite and taken by the citizenry - and no one has ever looked back.

Until now.

2 posted on 12/14/2011 4:59:43 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #2

(2007 Article Continued)


As the concept of the "Discussion Forum" caught on across the growing Internet, a couple of standard formulas became the norm.

The first was a single poster copying and pasting a news article from the Main Stream Media and then adding his/her comments. This early Blog form still exists today.

The second formula developed largely during the "Clinton Scandals".

Liberals and conservatives separated and started their own discussion forums where they would post an article from the Drudge Report or the New York Times and then proceed to beat it to death with everyone making comments.

There were a few science centered Blogs, but they also followed these same two formats. And they were out in the periphery - with few members and very few visitors.

No it was the mega sites where the action was - a huge group of diverse members, lots of visitor traffic and a stable infrastructure.

The elements were now all in place for the perfect storm.


This is the way the world ends Not with a bang, but a whimper

-T. S. Eliot-

It was the Ides of March, late in the night - on the hottest conservative forum on the Internet - that she appeared.

In an obscure section of that web site she posted a cryptically titled thread, made a comment about Ebola, a comment about God and then posted an advisory about a "worldwide health threat."

In a section that had seen only seven threads in the past seven days, she wove a strange, exotic and haunting thread for two days.

Then on the 17th of March she posted the first of 20 highly technical medical threads about the SARS outbreak - and over the next eleven days guided both lay and professionals, transformed the web site, crushed the paradigm and changed the way we interface with breaking news forever.

Oh, and there is that strange aspect of her name.

Every literate person on the Web knew and understood, not only what it meant, but the endless nuances that lay associated with that name, in this context.

She signed on as Mother Abigail.

3 posted on 12/14/2011 5:01:54 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #3

(2007 Article Continued)


Among the hundreds of posters and thousands of viewers on the Mother Abigail threads were; Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Pharmacists, Veterinarians and Health Care workers of every stripe.

It became apparent quite early that this was not to be the normal flu talk. This is an early post:

"Doug had an interesting observation in picking a Morbillivirus as a likely agent. Hendra and Nipah are both zoonotic and it might well be a mutant of the Paramyxoviridae family.

Symptoms are right.

"Just because I have had tooooo much coffee, I will mention that both Hendra and Nipah have been given their own genus (Henipavirus).

Henipavirus becomes the fourth genus within the Paramyxovirinae subfamily of the Paramyxoviridae family. The other genera within the subfamily are Rubulavirus, Morbillivirus and Respirovirus."

52 posted on 03/17/2003 10:49:23 PM PST by Mother Abigail"

And so it began.

Why was this different? Because local MD's discovered ProMed, because an army of netizens began searching every corner of our world for information, because citizens of other countries began translating information that would normally be missed - because the whole was larger than the sum of the parts.

One poster who tried to write about Mother Abigail soon after the incident, and was quickly banned, called it SARS Central.

Sounds right to me.

She hijacked a web site, created a forum for the "in depth" discussion of Virology, Taxonomy and Microbiology. But interactive.

And it is that interactivity that opened the flood gates. Now it was possible to monitor breaking news in a far off land, have experts opine on that news, react to their opinions and post information of your own.

NBC Nightly News was never going to be the same.

The "Flu Blog" was born.

4 posted on 12/14/2011 5:03:35 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #4

(2007 Article Continued)


Eleven days. From March the 15th to March the 26 she posted, wrote and guided. Then with the same grace and dignity that marked every word she ever wrote - she said goodbye.

"It appears I have worked myself out of a job.

Many of you are now posting threads on SARS, and the information seems to be flowing in an accurate and timely manner.

So I will take this opportunity to thank all the posters for their hard work and diligence.

NOTE: I have tried to answer all the e-mails, except of course, the many that asked for personal information. Hope I was of some help

Stay Strong, Come and see me and - bring all your nice friends.......

20 posted on 03/26/2003 8:12:57 PM PST by Mother Abigail"

Some help indeed....

Mother Abigail had become, in the wink of an eye, the focal point for much praise and some derision. Then she was gone.

A year or so later she began posting, from time to time, on various web sites - always modest - never speaking of those days again.

She continues to this day.

(End of 2007 Article)

5 posted on 12/14/2011 5:06:44 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #5


I anticipated a flood of e-mails either disputing my research or my thesis. Ever confident in my work I eagerly prepared for the debate. For the next few months my Yahoo mailbox was smoking – but the questions were not what I had envisioned. In fact, I could not have been more wrong.

The e-mails all asked the same questions and they were all about Mother Abigail. Did I know her? Who did she work for? Had I met her? Basically the same e-mail over and over again.

This pretty much let all the wind out of my sails for quite a while. Because the truth is that I knew nothing of her. I had exchanged a couple of brief “web-based” e-mails and although I had read every word she had ever written on the subject, my knowledge of the person was ZIP.

The only consistent trait of my personality, as several of my ex-wives will tell you, is that I have no great fidelity to any concept. So I fell back and reviewed my goals.

After a season of Tanqueray and tonic I decided to change my focus.


Via e-mail I asked MA if she would be willing to allow me to interview her and write an article about her. My operating paradigm at that time was that this lady was a seminal pioneer of the New Media and a scientist of serious reputation.

How naïve I was.

In the late summer of 2008 I was invited to visit her at her home on Lake Tahoe. It was a visit that would change my life.


The following is a summary of conversations that occurred from 2008 until 2010. All the words are mine and mine alone. When I asked MA if she would like to edit my work or review it for errors – she declined. Prior to the final draft I asked MA for a quote and she declined but requested that I include her favorite poem – “While the Rain Is Easy” – which I did.

"While the Rain Is Easy" is from a collection of Tokuisei Verse called "My River". It is used with permission from the author.

6 posted on 12/14/2011 5:08:01 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar


7 posted on 12/14/2011 5:08:49 AM PST by caver (Obama: Home of the Whopper)
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To: James Oscar


Winds are hard
To recreate
Once cast



8 posted on 12/14/2011 5:13:11 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #7

August 2008

Mother Abigail has a beautiful townhouse near the Governors' mansion in Nevada's capital city - Carson City. But it is her "cabin" at Lake Tahoe that she loves and nurtures. As I drove up to meet her for the first time there on that hot August day my thoughts were very scattered. I make my living with words - but I have no background as an interviewer and very little desire to be one. But "follow the story" had me driving up highway 50 with about 10 million other lost souls on that weekend - bumper to bumper.

Science writing is a gentle art. You learn as you write. The terminology, the doctrine and the search are all absorbed like cool water on a hot day. So I felt certain that I would be able to communicate at an educated level - even though I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for. Or so I though....


In order for me to have this conversation with you (the reader) we have to share certain mindsets and presuppositions that will allow us frame our discussion in common terms. I did not share that Weltanschauung with Mother Abigail at first and because it is central to understanding her - I will attempt to teach you (the way she has taught me) to see things from a slightly different perspective.


There is religion and there is science. There is creationism and there is evolution. Seems pretty clear cut to me but, as we often learn in life, the black and white choices can be terribly muddled in the middle.

To MA creation is an ongoing process. She smiles gently at those who argue for or against evolution/creationism. She explains that it is only our poor perceptual abilities that constantly force us into these dichotomous choices.

She explains it to me by using the following example:

Science vs/ God - no matter which side you start from you are destined to meet at a point that is defined by the number 4.66920160910299067185320382. (Sure and "thanks for all the fish".. I laugh to myself)

She relates that a young man named Mitchell Feigenbaum settled that entire question long ago. It seems that Mr. Feigenbaum (using science) discovered the fingerprints of God.

When you search for God you seek perfection and transcendence. In science you search for universal truths. So far so good… What young Mr. Feigenbaum did was discover that they are the same. Pick your favorite word to describe the results but here is the play by play.

The Feigenbaum Constant was discovered in 1975 by a whiz kid on pocket calculator. In this veil of tears we find two dynamic systems order and chaos - with a whole bunch of stuff in the middle moving between those two systems.

Well it appears (you can check it for yourself) that as any system moves from Order to Chaos there is a rhythm that is both perfect and transcendental. It is called the Feigenbaum Constant. It is so universal and so exact in its expression that it has been called the fingerprints of God.

9 posted on 12/14/2011 5:14:43 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar


If you are going to present something, do so in a coherent manner.

10 posted on 12/14/2011 5:18:19 AM PST by Texas Fossil (Government, even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one)
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To: James Oscar

Page #8

When you go to explain how such perfection occurs in the movement of fluid in a pipeline, a plague of locusts and every other dynamic system in the universe - you might want to bring a lunch.

See it doesn't matter. Words will just get in your way. MA explains that these mathematical rhythms being found at the edge of chaos simply illustrates how dichotomous our reasoning is. We can't predict what will happen past a certain number of variables and so we call it Chaos.

She teaches that there are rhythms in the Chaos and it is only our lack of perception that fails us. Using perception she explains evolution.

MA is a very religious woman yet she slips seamlessly back and forth between the two worlds. It has been very hard for me to grasp that continuity. I am a non-religious person and have a bit of a problem following some of the finer points.

However, she explains current human evolution in terms that I follow with ease.

She gave me a copy of the following paper with this passage highlighted.

Evolutionary Differentiation In Cognitive Function

"The level of understanding past and present determines the possible level of understanding the future. Non-conscious effects of the past, as produced by classical conditioning, can result in same-level anticipations of future (e.g. Pavlov's dogs salivated before meat powder was present). Conscious awareness of past episodes, however, can result in an awareness of potential future episodes. Mental time travel into the future may be achieved through extrapolation from similar past episodes (prediction by analogy) or, more important for the understanding of humans' extraordinary impact on the world over the last 10,000 years, through the application of semantic knowledge (prediction by theory) about the laws that govern nature."

Thomas Suddendorf
University of Waikato

An examination of the cognitive perception of the human species reveals a wide spectrum of differentiation. Like any biological variation, some changes prove to be beneficial to the individual and others prove damaging or even fatal.

Man has risen to be the dominant species on Earth by natural selection of those individuals with more beneficial cognitive skills.

A careful examination of those perceptual skills which have been most beneficial to mans ascendance reveals:

1. There has been a small amount of advancement in three-dimensional ability. The dexterity necessary to paint on cave walls and fashion stone tools has not, in large measure, been radically improved.

2. Sensory function such as smell, vision and hearing are difficult to quantify, but improvements, if they exist at all, are small. Some might even argue for a diminishing of ability.

3. It is the realm of fourth-dimensional perception where the human species has focused its evolutionary development

11 posted on 12/14/2011 5:18:29 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #9

I don’t mean to get sidetracked on these issues but it is important that you understand how interlocked all these natural processes are in MA’s world. When you speak to her you hear a very tidy understanding of our place in time and space.

She does not believe that God/Nature micromanages every aspect of life - but she does firmly adhere to the belief of a predictable future.

MA insists that human development is directional and purpose driven.

This leads me into the heart of our discussion and brings the circle back to epidemiology.

August 2008

As we sat in her garden overlooking the most beautiful body of water on earth we chatted about the SARS days and about her current life and what she was working on.

Having long ago retired from the medical profession MA now occupies herself with her gardening in the summer and, of all things, playing video poker in the winter.

I explained that a lot of people were curious about her because of the SARS threads - and she seemed amazed that anyone would care about something so trivial. I tried to explain my work and how important I believe those original treads were to the development of the media. But, I believe to this day, she considers it a bit goofy.

Nice polite chatter - two strangers putting on their best manners. Mine were forced hers were polished and elegant.

When the talk slowed and the sun became a little slanted, I ventured into the realm of H1N1, H5N1, Ebola and AIDS.

I am not certain how many hours passed as I listened to MA. I should have taken notes or recorded the time or something but I just sat there slacked jawed as a yokel seeing his first Unicorn.

Never changing her manner she proceeded to tell a riveting tale of current and future events that left me physically weak and emotionally empty. I don't really remember what I felt except numb. Very numb.

Strangely I wanted to leave. For the moment I had forgotten all the trouble required to get me in that garden and why it was so important to me. I just wanted to leave.

But the sun was fading and the air was getting that alpine nip so when offered a real drink I quickly accepted. I went to the rent-a-car and grabbed my jacket and gathered my soul just a bit.

The problem was that I believed her - every nuance of her reading of events struck me as absolutely accurate. Somewhere in my business brain a little synapse was asking a very important question "how in the hell can you ever tell that story?"

A drink, a cordial goodbye and promise to visit again and I was gone. Now driving down that stupid mountain I reflected on my decision to visit and my absolute resolve that I would return. Then I remembered something I had written two years ago (having called her by her given name all day) - and it was not the night air that sent the chill up my spine

"She signed on as Mother Abigail"

12 posted on 12/14/2011 5:19:53 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #10

SEPT 6, 2008

I drove up to the Lake listening to Pink Floyd - don't know why, just seemed right. I had a tape recorder, a legal pad full of questions and a good attitude.

I have a deep distrust of TV preachers, doomsayers and end of the worlders. But MA was none of that. More a teacher than anything else. It seems to me (now) that she was guiding me step by step to be able to see the answer to a very complex question, but never overloading my ability.

But still she had, in no uncertain terms, described to me on my last visit a vision of our near future that stood in stark contrast to the endless traffic of the Lake in the summer.

I needed to resolve those strange conflicting emotions. And one thing I know best - is how to research a problem.

We spent the entire day on the porch. Lunch was an Ahi salad to die for and we had iced tea in large glasses. She spoke about the evolutionary track that we were all on. My science background allowed me to follow most aspects and certainly the general theme.

It is still strange how she sees evolution as part of Gods creation. Kind of like a tool or art instrument - working the clay, guiding the work. I have never heard anyone in my entire life speak of such a belief system.

I know plenty of Christians who believe God created the earth in 7 days and plenty of Scientists who view such people as cretins. But I had never met anyone who sees the world like MA.

So I asked her "did God create the world in 7 days?"

You know that look you give a kid when he asks a question that reveals that he is, after all, only a child and has no real concept of how life works - a look that has a special kindness with just a touch of humor. I got the look.

She replied, "God is creating the world. The dynamic system is always in play and life is an ongoing creation - ever changing, ever moving to the next goal."

I asked "And what would that next goal be?" She replied, "Well it is different for every species and different for most populations within those species."

And for humans? "Our legends, our religious prophesies and our science fiction/fantasies are overwhelmingly about leaving earth. Our science is moving us ever closer to smaller scale rocket projects and you may in your lifetime see a very wealthy person leave."

We have always been the pioneers. "It is hard-wired in us, it is part of what we are - we will move to dead planets and become a type of God ourselves - bringing life and change with us. All the Industrial Revolution and the Technological Revolution will come to climax (like helicopter seeds in the wind) with our leaving. We are the seed of life and light and our destiny is in the stars."

Do you believe in life on other planets? "No, not at this time."

Do you believe in Evil? "Yes, of course."

13 posted on 12/14/2011 5:21:09 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #11

Fall 2008

During the fall I visited twice more. These sessions became a sort of "Epidemiology/Virology for Dummies" training. Slowly MA tried to bring my knowledge level up a notch or two.

We spent quite a bit of time on Ebola (her specialty). Using Ebola and it's history she explained how important viral recombination can be in a major pandemic.

January 2009

I spent the winter learning about sialic acid, neuraminidase, Mannose-binding lectin and viral mutation. It was not something that I was particularly good at. But bless her heart MA allowed me to slowly absorb a bit of the background I would need to understand her thesis. For example one cold Saturday afternoon she walked me through a series of lessons on viral glycoproteins. Glycosylation can be an important factor in virulence. Not a point I would soon forget in the coming months.

I was beginning to understand the strange language she spoke.

I did not know that April would change my chalkboard to a real world lesson and that she had been preparing me for events that were still yet to come.

Early Summer 2009

The H1N1 pandemic was building up steam. The outbreak was highly contagious but, on balance, only mildly lethal. However, the fatalities fell mostly within two subsets:

1. Young and healthy
2. Or ill.

As it rolled south, there was a sense of dread. Just a little too close to the 1918 paradigm for most folks.

I had taken an apartment in Carson and felt ready to write online of my long strange trip under the tutelage of Mother Abigail. There really wasn’t that much more to consider - I understood, as best as a layman can, her thesis and vision.

But knowing and believing is a long step from creating. I am a science writer not a futurist.

Facts are my friends and the form and structure of this story mostly eluded me – how to tell this tale seemed far more formidable than the theme. The theme was burned into my heart and mind.

So I went up to the Lake again. MA, I asked, “How in the world do I write this story?”

14 posted on 12/14/2011 5:22:42 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #12

It was June and we were setting down by the boat dock in the shade of that huge tree that I had come to love so much.

It had been a cool summer thus far and I had a tall gin and tonic to fight off the cold of the Lake. While I sipped, she stared off at the cross of snow still visible on the mountain across the Lake. Then she smiled that smile that those who know her so cherish and said, “Just start telling it and God will see you through”.

Now I have had editors, co-authors and technical advisors – but the thought of Devine Guidance steering my syntax was a bit much for me. But it was all she would say.

As I drove down to Carson, I pondered her response. Could I write in a “stream of consciousness” mode? Trust me; I am structured from my flip flops to my fedora and about as likely to write something that had not been re-written, edited and polished as you are to win at keno.

But it might work.

I could post on a couple of sites and let the story flow from me naturally with my only allegiance being to tell it honestly and to be fair to Mother Abigail.

It might work.

JULY 2009

Last weekend my lady friend Kate had told me in no uncertain terms that my latest gift was inappropriate. Well so be it…

I had spent a lot of time and effort to find that special something for her. It is what it is. Young women are both a blessing and curse to those of us with a little seasoning.

So, what the hell, I booked. Next thing I knew I was going over Donner Pass heading for the bay. I often use the ocean breeze as some use yoga – it is my ultimate soothing place.

And I needed soothing. I could not pull the trigger on my piece. I had tried to write the first three segments for a month and had wasted more electrons than a toaster oven. It didn’t feel right; it didn’t seem honest or genuine.

So July 3rd found me setting in the Xterra (a fine rental vehicle) overlooking Seal Rock and writing on my laptop – again.

July 4th found me back at the resort on the peninsula – it was a perfect day. The sun was hot and the sky perfect. So I just stopped and relaxed by the pool – the accidental tourist.

There are lines we cross with full knowledge and conviction, and those we just stumble over. This was the former.

Unwilling to wait any longer I decided to just do as MA had suggested – I would start the work with no outline and very little organization and see what happens.

I still don’t know what will happen.

15 posted on 12/14/2011 5:24:15 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

High in the trees
The wind speaks
Then breathes



16 posted on 12/14/2011 5:27:36 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: caver

Is someone off their meds?

Did I finally manage to get IBTZ?

17 posted on 12/14/2011 5:28:17 AM PST by Malacoda (CO(NH2)2 on OBAMA.)
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To: James Oscar

Page #14

(An Interview With Mother Abigail)

Q. There are many people worried about the novel H1N1 virus combining with the H5N1 virus. What are your feelings on the issue?

MA. The HPAI A(H5N1) virus is an avian disease - panzootic in poultry and wild birds - and while there have been over 250 human deaths in the last six years from H5N1 infection there is very limited human-to-human transmission of the virus.

But it is worrisome considering it's:

1. High lethality
2. Worldwide host reservoir
3. And propensity for mutation

We know, for instance, that in Indonesia the virus may be adapting to pigs.

The H5N1 virus isolated from pigs is less harmful to mice than the H5N1 isolated from chickens.

This means that the virus growing in pigs might well be adapting to a new host - which, in turn, suggest that it might eventually adapt to humans as well.

Pigs are seen as a possible intermediate host that can help in that adaptation because the epithelial cells in pigs' trachea can be infected by both avian and human flu. Where, in the event of co-infection, viral reassortment might occur.

It seems prudent to be concerned.

However, the normal seasonal flu kills over 30,000 per year which is a quantum leap in risk.

As to the novel H1N1 virus now spreading like wildfire around the globe - the issue is different. The new H1N1 virus is more deadly than common seasonal influenza because of its ability to infect cells deep in the lungs where it can cause scarring and pneumonia.

Also it is more virulent. At least in animal models that is, what we see in the human population is a rather low (0.2%) lethality. Time will tell what the final verdict on virulence is.

We know for certain that it does not have the mitochondrial killing prowess of the 1918 flu virus. However it seems to have spread in six weeks as much as the seasonal flu spreads in six months.

It is hot.

18 posted on 12/14/2011 5:28:44 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #15

As to your question of the two mixing and somehow acquiring the lethality of H5N1 and infectiousness of H1N1 - it is of course possible.

Antigenic shift between avian influenza and human influenza is not something unheard of. The "Asian" flu pandemic of 1957 and the "Hong Kong" flu pandemic of 1968 both introduced novel strains.

The H2 that appeared in 1957 and the H3 that appeared in 1968 came from influenza viruses circulating in birds.

So when we consider that the human population has absolutely no immunity against any H5 viruses the red flags go very high indeed.

Will H5N1 reassort with H1N1 or with H3N2, or will it "drift" into another host like pigs and then move to other mammals?

It has failed over the last few years to combine with H3N2 and has yet to find a non-avian host.

When novel H1N1 becomes ubiquitous, as it certainly appears headed, will the increased opportunity for antigenic shift finally create a specific case of reassortment or viral shift that confers a phenotypic change?

I don't know. No one does, but we can use our experience and make educated calculations as to the possibilities. I would rate the chance of H1 acquiring a polybasic cleavage site at nil, but the odds of H1 picking up lethal genes or polymorphisms at >5%.

There are, in my opinion, far greater risks on the horizon

Q. When you speak of “far greater problems” what are your concerns

MA. There are several. In recent pandemics, a second wave of influenza activity occurred 3 to 12 months after the first wave. We must anticipate this pandemic to do the same.

In 1957 the second wave began 3 months after the peak of the first wave, while in 1968 the second wave began 12 months after peak of the first wave.

The first wave of the 1918 flu occurred in the spring of that year ending in March. That flu was very severe by usual standards but the second wave beginning 6 months later in September was the most fatal.

During the 1918 pandemic, the deadly second wave was responsible for more than 90% of the deaths for the entire pandemic. The third wave occurred more than a year later, during the following 1919-1920 winter/spring, and was the mildest of all.

So when we think of the fall of 2009 and the children returning to classes we must be cognizant of this huge potential for a second wave of flu infections.

In the previous century, pandemics traveled from continent to continent along sea lanes, with global spread complete within six to eight months.

19 posted on 12/14/2011 5:30:01 AM PST by James Oscar
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To: James Oscar

Page #16

The 1957 pandemic, during an era with much less globalization, spread to the US within 4-5 months of its detection in China, and the 1968 pandemic spread to the US from Hong Kong within 2-3 months. Now we live in the era of “overnight” delivery – and that speed of travel might well come to do us harm.

I am sure you understand that we were able to stop the SARS outbreak by rigidly enforcing “barrier nursing techniques”. However, many of the public health interventions that successfully contained SARS will not be effective against a disease that is far more contagious, has a very short incubation period, and can be transmitted prior to the onset of symptoms.

We have a roughly 20-24% divergence of this novel 2009 H1 from the seasonal influenza H1 virus. This antigenic shift will play itself out with the novel virus replacing the seasonal influenza as the dominate strain. As that happens you should look for new risk groups to emerge and for the tracking of classical period doubling episodes in the infection rates.

In phase transitions there are three universal routes:

• Period doubling
• Intermittency
• Quasiperiodicity

But as an epidemic moves from its initial introduction into a population to mass infection - it is period doubling that best defines that route. At some point along that transition the health authorities will cease to count cases and use macro metrics to measure the disease penetration.

We are very near that phase.

Q: Do you believe that this virus (H1N1) will lead to the type of deaths and disruption that the 1918 flu caused?

MA: In the field of medicine anything is possible, but on balance I would have to say no. In fact, there is some evidence that this influenza A (H1N1) might even be less lethal than our seasonal flu.

That does not mean that there will not be problems. When you have a virus that targets the young, pregnant and those with asthma, respiratory illness and compromised immune systems- then there will be suffering.

But we have fought this battle many times.

However, because of the level of transmission in this pandemic we must be prepared for a huge spike in the fall.

We can’t completely prevent its spread, but we can minimize it through simple measures: frequent handwashing, covering our mouths with the crook of our elbows when we cough, and staying home from work or school when we’re sick.

For people who are exposed and at high risk from influenza, medications such as oseltamavir (TamiFlu) are still effective against H1N1, although there is always a risk that widespread resistance to these drugs could develop.

A vaccine for H1N1 influenza is under development, and people at high risk of illness from infection (such as the elderly) or at high risk to transmit the infection (such as schoolchildren) should be strongly recommended to receive it.

20 posted on 12/14/2011 5:31:11 AM PST by James Oscar
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