Tonight, Live on KDKA/Pittsburgh 9-12mid ET. You can check out their web site at:
We'll talk about the spread of the swine flu virus in Mexico..the rising U.S. debt in this economic crisis...and how Democrats in the U.S. Senate want to prosecute and investigate Americans who used aggressive techniques to interrogate terrorists.
Bill Glynn (http://www.billyg.net/) and Jim Kouri (http://www.jimkouris.us/) will join me on the show tonight ot discuss the topics.
The President of Mexico tonight is declaring an emergency in his country due to a fatal outbreak of what is believed to be swine flu. This deadly outbreak has already killed 68 including one man who met with President Obama during his recent visit. White House officials say the President is fine but there have been confirmed cases of the flu in the U.S. already. This brings up the issue about whether we should move quickly to quarantine those coming across the border until this serious issue is resolved. Personally, I believe we should although I have no expectation that the current adminstration would do something that drastic because of the political fallout that would occur. For some time, the World Health Organization representatives predicted another world flu outbreak is due with the last major one in 1968.
History of the Swine Flu Virus
 1918 epidemic
Main article: Spanish Flu
In the spring of 1918, swine influenza mutated into a severe human form in just a few months. Some of the victims became severely ill and died, while the rest suffered from mild symptoms. In the US, the first deaths were recorded among sailors in Boston in August 1918, and the epidemic quickly spread to all parts of the country. Between the autumn of 1918 and the spring of 1919, 548,452 people died of this flu in the US. In the UK, France and Germany, around 600,000 people died. Worldwide, the number of casualties was between 20 and 50 million, or maybe more. The puzzling fact is that the epidemic erupted almost simultaneously at distant locations, therefore it is likely that the virus was incubated in people with only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Other anomalous facts are that the disease attacked people in their twenties and thirties, thought to have strong immune systems, and most of the infections were lethal. At the military prison at Deer Island (Massachusetts) in Boston Harbor there was an attempt to develop a vaccine during the 1918 outbreak.
 1976 U.S. outbreak
On February 5, 1976, an army recruit at Fort Dix said he felt tired and weak. He died the next day and four of his fellow soldiers were later hospitalized. Two weeks after his death, health officials announced that swine flu was the cause of death and that this strain of flu appeared to be closely related to the strain involved in the 1918 flu pandemic. Alarmed public-health officials decided that action must be taken to head off another major pandemic, and they urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease. The vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems, but about 24% of the population had been vaccinated by the time the program was canceled.
There is "enough evidence to suggest that" about 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people, were caused by an immunopathological reaction to the vaccine in some people. Other influenza vaccines have not been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome.
 2007 Philippine outbreak
On August 20, 2007, Department of Agriculture officers investigated the outbreak of swine flu in Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon, Philippines. The mortality rate is less than 10% for swine flu, if there are no complications like hog cholera. Earlier, or on July 27, 2007, the Philippine National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) raised a hog cholera "red alert" warning over Metro Manila and 5 regions of Luzon after the disease spread to backyard pig farms in Bulacan and Pampanga, even if these tested negative for the swine flu virus.
 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak
Main article: 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak
In March and April 2009, more than 1,000 cases of swine flu in humans were detected in Mexico, the southwestern United States, New York City metropolitan area, and two in Kansas, causing more than 80 deaths in Mexico. Following a series of reports of isolated cases of swine flu, the first announcement of the outbreak in Mexico was documented on April 23. Some of the cases have been confirmed by the World Health Organization to be due to a new genetic strain of H1N1. The new strain has been confirmed in 16 of the deaths and 44 others are being tested as of 24 April 2009. The Mexican fatalities are mainly young adults, a hallmark of pandemic flu.
The current vaccine against the seasonal influenza strain H1N1 is thought unlikely to provide protection. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that the United States cases were found to be made up of genetic elements from four different flu viruses—North American swine influenza, North American avian influenza, human influenza A virus subtype H1N1, and swine influenza virus typically found in Asia and Europe. For two cases a complete genome sequence had been obtained. She said that the virus was resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, but susceptible to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza).
The new strain appears to be a recombinant between two older strains. Preliminary genetic characterization found that the hemagglutinin (HA) gene was similar to that of swine flu viruses present in U.S. pigs since 1999, but the neuraminidase (NA) and matrix protein (M) genes resembled versions present in European swine flu isolates. Viruses with this genetic makeup had not previously been found to be circulating in humans or pigs, but there is no formal national surveillance system to determine what viruses are circulating in pigs in the U.S.
 See also
^ Veterinary Sciences Tomorrow article Swine influenza: a zoonosis by Paul Heinen dated 15 September 2003 says "Influenza B and C viruses are almost exclusively isolated from man, although influenza C virus has also been isolated from pigs and influenza B has recently been isolated from seals."
^ "World Health Organization: Swine flu could spread globally". CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/25/swine.flu/index.html. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
^ http://www.vetmed.iastate.edu/departments/vdpam/swine/diseases/chest/swineinfluenza/ Swine Diseases (Chest) - Swine Influenza], Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine
^ eurekalert Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology - Novel H3N1 Swine Influenza Virus Identified in Pigs in Korea
^ PNAS Published online before print December 18, 2007, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0710286104 PNAS December 26, 2007 vol. 104 no. 52 20949-20954
^ pubmedcentral.nih.gov Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research (2007 July; 71(3): 201–206.) article Serologic and genetic characterization of North American H3N2 swine influenza A viruses by Marie René Gramer, Jee Hoon Lee, Young Ki Choi, Sagar M. Goyal, and Han Soo Joo
^ Myers KP, Olsen CW, Gray GC (April 2007). "Cases of swine influenza in humans: a review of the literature". Clin. Infect. Dis. 44 (8): 1084–8. doi:10.1086/512813. PMID 17366454.
^ WHO (October 28, 2005). "H5N1 avian influenza: timeline" (PDF). http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/Timeline_28_10a.pdf.
^ CIDRAP article Indonesian pigs have avian flu virus; bird cases double in China published May 27, 2005
^ http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/avianflu/news/mar3109swine-jw.html March 31, 2009 report on Pigs as carriers
^ National Hog Farmer article Swine Flu Virus Turns Endemic published September 15, 2007
^ livestock.novartis.com Custom Vaccines: Swine
^ American Heritage, "The Great Swine Flu Epidemic of 1918", June 1976, p. 82
^ a b "The Sky is Falling: An Analysis of the Swine Flu Affair of 1976". Haverford.edu. http://www.haverford.edu/biology/edwards/disease/viral_essays/warnervirus.htm. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
^ University of Illinois at Springfield[dead link]
^ "GMA NEWS.TV, DA probes reported swine flu 'outbreak' in N. Ecija". Gmanews.tv. http://www.gmanews.tv/story/56805/DA-probes-reported-swine-flu-outbreak-in-N-Ecija. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
^ "GMA NEWS.TV, Gov't declares hog cholera alert in Luzon". Gmanews.tv. http://www.gmanews.tv/story/53014/Govt-declares-hog-cholera-alert-in-Luzon. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
^ 7:26 p.m. ET. "Mexico flu deaths raise fears of global epidemic - Infectious diseases- msnbc.com". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30386163/#storyContinued. Retrieved on 2009-04-25.
^ Mike Stobbe (April 21, 2009). "Officials alert doctors after 2 California children infected with unusual swine flu". Associated Press. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/43357097.html?elr=KArks7PYDiaK7DUvDE7aL_V_BD77:DiiUiacyKUUr. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
^ David Brown (April 22, 2009). "New Strain of Swine Flu Investigated: Two Children in San Diego Area Had No Contact With Pigs". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/21/AR2009042103694.html. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
^ "Q&A: Swine flu.". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8017585.stm.
^ "Influenza-Like Illness in the United States and Mexico". World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_04_24/en/index.html.
^ Experts probe deadly Mexico flu Published 24 April 2009
^ New Scientist magazine: Deadly new flu virus in US and Mexico may go pandemic 24 April 2009
^ "Update: Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Infections --- California and Texas, April 2009". CDC MMWR. 2009-04-24. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm58d0424a1.htm.
^ Steven Reinberg (2009-04-24). "Swine Flu Cases Now Total 7: CDC". ABC News. http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=7415611&page=1.
^ Rob Stein (2009-04-23). "In California and Texas, 5 New Swine Flu Cases". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/23/AR2009042304116.html.
^ "CDC Briefing on Public Health Investigation of Human Cases of Swine Influenza". CDC online newsroom. 2009-04-23. http://www.cdc.gov/media/transcripts/2009/t090423.htm.
^ "Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Infection in Two Children --- Southern California, March--April 2009". CDC MMWR. 2009-04-22. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5815a5.htm.
 Further reading
"Swine Flu Cases Without Swine Exposure" Center for Biosecurity of UPMC
The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease Original 1978 U.S.A. Department of Health Education and Welfare review by Richard E. Neustadt and Harvey V Fineberg available from Louisiana State University Law Center Medical and Public Health Law Site.
Surface sanitation and interruption of influenza using NAV-CO2
The Swine Flu Episode and the Fog of Epidemics by Richard Krause in CDC's Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal Vol. 12, No. 1 January 2006 published December 20, 2005
SWINE INFLUENZA by Carol G. Woodlief of College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University Overview, symptoms in pigs, treatment for pigs
In California and Texas, 5 New Swine Flu Cases Washington Post, By Rob Stein (Staff Writer)
Swine Flu In Mexico And U.S. May Lead To Pandemic, WHO Says AHN, Mayur Pahilajani (Staff Writer)
News and information on the 2009 human swine flu outbreak
The fact that this strain began with swine brings to mind several verses in Revelation for those interested in Biblical Prophecy. There is reference that major disease outbreaks would come, in some form, from the animals. Here is a portion of an article found here:
“By the Beasts of the Earth”
Notice that the “beasts of the earth” will have a part to play (Revelation 6:8). This refers to animals literally attacking humans for food. On the heels of warfare and famine, food will be scarce for animals too. Moreover, animals such as rats and skunks that become weak and diseased could spread rabies, for example, to household pets, further endangering humans.
In the original Greek, the phrase “by the beasts of the earth” can also refer to animal-borne disease that passes on to humans. Thus, the pale horse spreads its deadly curse through yet another phenomenon.
The mad cow disease scare started in Britain in the late 1980s. The disease is more accurately known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (bse) because it destroys brain tissue (encephalopathy means disease of the brain) and causes the brain to look like a sponge. Scientists generally agree that the disease is caused by infectious forms of prions (a type of protein).
These deformed prions are extant in other animal populations as well. Consequently, various forms of spongiform encephalopathies could soon become endemic. In deer and elk, the disease is known as chronic wasting disease. In sheep, it’s called scrapie. Other animals, such as monkeys and cats, can also be affected by prion diseases. In humans, defective prions are thought to cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (cjd)—a devastating illness resulting in progressive dementia, loss of coordination and sometimes blindness or loss of speech.
One way to contract a “variant” form of cjd is to eat beef infected with bse. Although cjd is relatively rare to this point, the incubation period (time it takes to become ill after eating the infected beef) is thought to be about 12 years, although some doctors have maintained it could take up to 50 years. It has only been about 16 years since the first major outbreak of bse in Britain. In any case, cjd may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or various other types of brain diseases. Scientists also admit that there is the possibility of shorter incubation periods with different strains of spongiform encephalopathies that may yet emerge.
Since infectious prions can accumulate in the brain and spinal cord, many countries require these and other select parts to be removed from slaughtered animals. But a troubling report out of Switzerland recently published in the journal Science disclosed that the diseased prions can travel to other organs as well. “This [means] that cows and sheep infected with prions could harbor [mad cow] disease in any inflamed organ” (New York Times, January 21; emphasis mine throughout).
So while the number of confirmed cjd cases is still relatively small, there are several reasons to be concerned—not the least of which is this prophecy directed to the disobedient descendants of Israel (primarily Britain and the U.S.): “Cursed shall be … the increase of your cattle …” (Deuteronomy 28:18). This prophecy, along with that of the fourth horseman inflicting animal diseases onto humans, indicates that mad cow disease and cjd—which is always fatal—will yet cause many more deaths.
Recently, another animal-borne disease in the news has caused quite a stir. Let’s understand why.
The virus identified as h5n1 first emerged in 1997 in Hong Kong. Since then it has spread primarily through poultry in Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries. It is popularly known as the avian virus or bird flu.
Last year, the Medical Research Council in London revealed that the deadly Spanish flu of 1918 started in birds. What has caught the attention of infectious-disease experts around the world is that the bird flu virus is evolving in much the same way as did the Spanish flu virus, which, according to some, infected half of the world’s population at the time! Estimates vary, but that flu felled between 20 and 50 million people—roughly two to five times as many as perished in World War i.
Historically, global flu pandemics rage every 25 years or so. There were three such influenza outbreaks in the 20th century—the last of which occurred in 1968. The fact that we are noticeably overdue for another one, plus the striking similarities of the bird flu to the Spanish flu, has many infectious-disease specialists alarmed. Densely populated countries where millions live close to farm animals, combined with the extensive travel propensities of our modern age, have many talking about a pandemic threat that could be deadlier than the Spanish flu.
Despite valiant efforts to cull diseased and nearby poultry (some 100 million birds were destroyed), the bird flu has now spread to wild birds and ducks and has also infected pigs, cats and other mammals. Since ducks and some migratory birds can carry the virus without being affected and don’t show any symptoms, “hope of stamping out this largest avian flu outbreak in history has dimmed” (ScientificAmerican.com, January 10).
So far, those who have died from the bird flu have been infected through poultry or other animals. According to most experts, however, it is highly probable that the bird flu virus will mix with a human flu virus by exchanging genetic material and mutate into a new strain that is transmissible between humans. This exchange could happen inside an infectious animal that is susceptible to both the human flu and bird flu, like the pig. Or it could occur in a child with human flu whose healthy-looking pet duck gives him the bird flu virus. Either way, as Dr. Klaus Stohr, global influenza program coordinator for the World Health Organization (who), states, “We have never been as close to pandemic as we are now; that’s the generic assessment of all the experts and also the assessment of the who” (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Sept. 24, 2004).
It’s not a matter of if it strikes, but of how soon and how bad it will be once it is easily transmissible between humans. Compared to sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which has been successfully contained for now, the bird flu is much more contagious, has a short incubation period and can be transmitted prior to the onset of symptoms. Moreover, sars killed only about 10 percent of its victims, whereas about 75 percent of those infected with the bird flu have died. And the disease does not respect the healthy. Most of the victims were children and young adults in previously good health.
The who forecasts a death toll from the bird flu of up to 7 million people in a best-case scenario and significantly more if the new flu bug is very potent. Tommy Thompson, outgoing U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, has said it could kill 30 to 70 million people. The low end of that estimate is equivalent to virtually the whole population of Canada! University of Minnesota infectious-disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm prognosticates that “[e]ven with moderate transmission and fatality rates, this could do in less than a year what hiv took 30 years to do” (Forbes, January 31). That really puts the potential devastation of the bird flu in context!
What about a vaccine? some might ask. Like all vaccines, it must be custom-made to the virus. Since no one knows yet what the bird flu virus will look like once it adapts to human transmission, a vaccine cannot be manufactured in advance. Furthermore, the normal method of making human flu vaccines is to grow the virus inside embryonated chicken eggs, from which the vaccine is produced. Since the bird flu is lethal to chickens, it would kill the chick embryos before the virus could grow. For this reason, a genetically engineered vaccine would need to be prepared, which is even more time-consuming than the traditional method. Millions could be infected before a vaccine became available. According to Osterholm, “We have yawned at influenza year after year. We are going to have a rude awakening” (ibid.).
Return of the Plagues
Animal-borne diseases are just part of the story. The fourth horseman is not limited to that tactic. While bird flu captures the headlines, tuberculosis (tb), for example, has been relentless and continues to be a formidable killer. It has killed more people than any other disease in history. Still today, about 2 million succumb to it each year. Let’s put that in some perspective.
The Asian tsunami of December 2004 claimed almost 300,000 lives, including those missing and presumed dead. tb slaughters the equivalent of seven tsunamis annually. Put another way, every two months, on average more people die from tb than the death toll from the Asian tsunami. To make matters worse, multidrug-resistant tb (mdr-tb) is on the rise. The cure rate for mdr-tb is only about 50 percent, and it’s estimated that 50 million people are currently infected with mdr-tb! In parts of Russia, resistance to the most common drug treatment for tb is nearing 100 percent.
A book titled The Return of the White Plague: Global Poverty and the “New” Tuberculosis addresses the re-emergence of the tb pandemic. It supports a statement of the who estimating that “between 2002 and 2020, approximately 1,000 million [1 billion] people will be newly infected [with tuberculosis] ….” These new multiresistant strains of tb could also spread through the rich countries of the world.
In contrast to the “white plague” of tuberculosis stands the “Black Death” of the Middle Ages. New research shows that even this perhaps most dreaded of all diseases could make a terrifying comeback in the near future. According to Dr. Susan Scott, author of the book Return of the Black Death, this great killer was not a form of bubonic plague, but a life-threatening virus that was spread from person to person. After extensive historical research, she and her colleagues determined that the Black Death is lying dormant, most likely in the animal population of the Third World—and that it could reemerge at any time! Because it probably has an infectious period of three weeks when no symptoms occur, “[t]heir study reveals a new outbreak would spread quickly around the globe causing massive devastation” (Liverpool Daily Echo, May 24, 2004).
Such scenarios frighten medical authorities because they are not mere science fiction. With the tremendous intercontinental air and sea traffic of our age, plus the crumbling infrastructures of metropolitan inner cities and increasing numbers of fleeing international refugees, such diseases could be spread around the world very quickly. In today’s global society, an outbreak could be on the other side of the world within 24 hours.
Not only that, but we also have to contend with the very real prospect of disease that could be imposed upon us by terrorists!
Living bacterial and viral organisms, or the toxins they produce, can be used as biological weapons. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified seven biological agents that are the highest threat to the nation: anthrax, botulinus toxin, plague, ricin, smallpox, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola). Let’s look briefly at just the first two.
During World War ii, when there was widespread fear that the Axis powers might use germ warfare, Britain conducted limited biological weapons tests. In one test, Gruinard, a remote island off the northwest coast of Scotland, was sprayed with anthrax bacteria in 1942. The targets were sheep, and they began dying within days. Then another problem surfaced. Most biological agents rapidly deteriorate, but not so for dry agents such as anthrax. The anthrax bacteria were so durable that the tiny island was declared unsafe and quarantined. Not until 1986 did efforts to decontaminate it successfully begin. After removing topsoil, flooding the island with a formaldehyde solution and returning sheep to it that subsequently remained healthy, the island was finally declared safe in 1990.
While anthrax poisoning is not contagious, exposure to anthrax spores can kill within three days after the onset of fever, cough, respiratory distress and shock. It would take only about 200 pounds, released into the wind, for a terrorist to murder up to 3 million people in Washington, d.c., for example! The lives lost would be horrendous enough, but the enduring aftereffects would also devastate the region.
The tiny microscopic organism botulinum is in plentiful supply because it is found naturally in the soil and in low-acid foods that spoil. The poison it produces is lethal. In concentrated form, it’s called botulinus toxin and is the deadliest of all naturally occurring biotoxins. Specifically, it is a neurotoxin, which means it destroys nerve cells. After general symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, blurred vision and difficulty swallowing and speaking, there is paralysis, respiratory failure and death—usually within about a week of becoming infected. If an anti-toxin is administered soon enough, the progress of the disease can be stopped—but the physical damage caused by the destruction of nerve cells is irreversible.
Just how dangerous is botulinus toxin? It only takes two-hundredths of a milligram absorbed through the skin, lungs, eyes or mucous membranes to kill an adult! That means that just 1 gallon of pure botulinus toxin can kill over 180 million people. How hard is it to produce a gallon? After the Gulf War of 1991, United Nations inspectors found and destroyed 130,000 gallons of botulinus toxin in Iraq! And how easy is it to use? The toxin “can be delivered from rifle grenades, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, bombs, air-to-ground rockets (e.g., from helicopters), from Scud warheads, from land mines, from sprayers, sprinklers, and aerosol equipment, and from harmless-looking booby traps of various kinds” (Cyberlab Computer Forensics, Feb. 27, 1998). The launch of one Scud missile filled with botulinus toxin could affect an area of at least 1,400 square miles.
There’s also the very real possibility that our food supply could be poisoned with biological agents. Tommy Thompson said, “I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do. … We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East and it would be easy to tamper with that” (New York Times, Dec. 4, 2004). He admitted he worried about threats to the food supply every night!
Can we begin to see the very real danger that mankind faces from biological terrorism? Not only are biological weapons in some ways more dangerous than nuclear weapons, they are far less expensive to produce. Never before could such a few people, with limited means, pose such great devastation.
Doug Kellett @idougradio
- Doug Kellett's Daily Blog
- I have more than 30 years of news/talk/sports hosting experience including management of stations in Nashville, Denver and Columbus(GA). I often can be heard in some of the largest markets in the US and great stations like KOA/Denver, 630 KHOW/Denver, 600 KCOL/Ft. Colllins, CO, WOAI/San Antonio, KTRH and KPRC/Houston, WLS/Chicago, KKDA/Pittsburgh, WLAC/Nashville, WBT/Charlotte, Fox News/Ft. Myers-Naples, FL, 106.3 WORD-FM/Greenville-Spartanburg, SC and many other stations.