Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quick links from H5N1 blog

H5N1 blog points to a couple of timely stories.

At Barack Obama's request Dr. Julie Gerberding is leaving the CDC. This story has not been in the headlines because it's not on most radar screens. My impressions of Dr. Gerberding were always positive. She carried herself well, spoke professionallly and had strikingly attractive hair. Silly me. Like most people I never thought she had her job because she had been drinking from the Administration's punch bowl but that seems to have been the case. A quick look at a couple of CDC related sites reveals how an agency that should be driven by dry, boring science and statistics can be politicized from the top.

A genuine fear among many in the public health community was that Obama would not replace Dr. Julie Gerberding as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (aka, the CDC). I am relieved to report that she will be out in 9 days, although she isn't going willingly and will wring every last second of power and salary out of it: literally. LINK to Revere Science Blog Network.

This is interesting.

In epidemiology an effect is the endpoint of a causal mechanism. An effect measure is an estimate of the influence of a particular factor on a population's health. The Editors of Effect Measure are senior public health scientists and practitioners. Their names would be immediately recognizable to many in the public health community. They prefer to keep their online and public lives separate to allow maximum freedom of expression. Paul Revere was a member of the first local Board of Health in the United States (Boston, 1799). The Editors sign their posts "Revere" to recognize the public service of a professional forerunner better known for other things.
A look at the comments thread there and another link reveals a collective sigh of relief down in the ranks.

Another link to CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy) mentions a report focusing on how an avian flu pandemic could impact the US energy supply because, according to them, about half the electricity in this country is generated from coal. The connection with bird flu and the coal supply exists because the coal supply chain is geographically small. If coal miners go missing in great numbers the effect on the coal supply is easy to imagine. And I doubt that many people would quickly jump in and do what they do.

A coal shortage during an influenza pandemic portends grim outcomes. With this report, we attempt to conceptualize what happens when a pandemic disrupts the supply chain for coal, the fuel nearly half of the United States relies upon for electricity—the cornerstone of public health and organizational continuity. We believe the nation must reduce the risk that a pandemic poses to the generation of electricity and prevent the collateral damage the nation faces without electricity.

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