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Flu + La Nina = Pandemic?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the african-or-european-swallow dept.

Earth 105

New submitter MrEricSir writes with some scary speculation from a BBC article about the confluence of climate and disease: "A correlation between illness and cold weather is nothing new but this one is very specific: La Nina changes the migratory patterns of birds which can (and often does, according to this theory) cause flu pandemics."

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Netcraft confirms (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38725890)

Netcraft confirms it; we are all going to fucking die!!!

pandemic == marketing hype (-1, Flamebait)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38725914)

the phrase is basically used to sell un-needed vaccinations. The definition is that it *may* affect a wide area. There is possibility that people might get sick.

Keep that in mind when reading these articles.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726206)

So.... should I get the vaccine, or just continue panicking?

It's so hard to choose between manufactured fear, and placebo relief.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726494)

Get the Vaccine.
It just works out mathematically.

-1 You suffer pain
0 Pain and suffering are negligible.
1 You feel joy

Value of not taking the vaccine.
1. You don't get the Vaccine and you live in fear of getting the flu: -1
2. You don't get the Vaccine and you Don't get the flu: 0
3. You don't get the Vaccine and you get the flue: -1
4. You don't get the Vaccine and you save like $10: +1

Sum of Risk vs. Loss is -1

Value if you take the vaccine.
1. You get the Vaccine and feel good about being immune: +1
2. You get the Vaccine and you get the flu: -1
3. You get the Vaccine and don't get the flu: 0
4. You get the Vaccine and you spend $10 (Not that much): 0

Sum of Risk vs. Loss is 0

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726678)

Get the Vaccine.
It just works out mathematically.


-1 You suffer pain
0 Pain and suffering are negligible.
1 You feel joy
-1 You get the Vaccine, you still get the flu
-1 You get the Vaccine, you get autism. :O


Value of not taking the vaccine.
1. You don't get the Vaccine and you live in fear of getting the flu: -1
2. You don't get the Vaccine and you Don't get the flu: 0
3. You don't get the Vaccine and you get the flue: -1
4. You don't get the Vaccine and you save like $10: +1


Sum of Risk vs. Loss is -1


Value if you take the vaccine.
1. You get the Vaccine and feel good about being immune: +1
2. You get the Vaccine and you get the flu: -1
3. You get the Vaccine and don't get the flu: 0
4. You get the Vaccine and you spend $10 (Not that much): 0


Sum of Risk vs. Loss is 0

FTFY

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726744)

Shit, when did Jenny McCarthy start posting on Slashdot?

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726838)

pics or gtfo

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2, Interesting)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727156)

Well, you need to take into consideration of two other factors:
1) Potential side effects. The cure could kill you, so to speak.
2) NPR had a story on the manufacturing of a pandemic panic, and it seems the flu shot is only 60% effective.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

webmosher (322834) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727392)

There is also the possibility that the flu will kill you. The chances of that happening vs. side effects killing you are probably greater, but that's just a guess.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728172)

Death due to influenza (or pneumonia) varies seasonally but tends to be in the 7% range (of all death types) [cdc.gov] . (Probably only 2% to 8% of those P&I deaths are actually one of the major strains of influenza - also from the CDC). Serious adverse reactions to a flu vaccine is typically less than 20 per 1,000,000. [sciencedirect.com] Death is a very small subset of serious adverse reactions.

I'm not going to walk the numbers all the way to apples and apples because it should be obvious from here.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728816)

The way I understand it, it's not the flu itself that will kill you, but the body's prophylactic overreaction.
Does an immune system react with the same level of intensity with a vaccine as with a full-fledged, live flu?
Because if the worst-case vaccine scenario is less intense than the worst-case flu scenario, gimme the shot (as much as I hate needles).

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727604)

There is a few "risk factors" that are missed.

1. Get the flu from the vaccine even though the virus never reached your area.
2. Force Governments to spend billions of dollars on vaccines that are never used.
3. Avoid people, cancel vacations, etc in hopes of not getting disease even though disease is not present.

My issue with the use of pandemic is that the threshold is so low for it's use but people equating it to to events like the Black Death. Fewer people died from the "Bird Flu Pandemic" a few years ago than normally die each flu season. Most people equate pandemic with mass death and that is just not always the case. Pandemic is mainly defined by mutation and spread and not virilance and mortality.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38730976)

There is a few "risk factors" that are missed.

1. Get the flu from the vaccine even though the virus never reached your area.
2. Force Governments to spend billions of dollars on vaccines that are never used.
3. Avoid people, cancel vacations, etc in hopes of not getting disease even though disease is not present.

My issue with the use of pandemic is that the threshold is so low for it's use but people equating it to to events like the Black Death. Fewer people died from the "Bird Flu Pandemic" a few years ago than normally die each flu season. Most people equate pandemic with mass death and that is just not always the case. Pandemic is mainly defined by mutation and spread and not virilance and mortality.

um... item 1 is pretty much impossible. Flu vaccines don't contain influenza... they only contain inactive culture (it would be like saying that this rabbit skin in my hand is suddenly going to cause the area to be overrun with rabbits). Furthermore, vaccines aren't used to stop people from getting infected; they're used to stop the movement of a virus from one location to another. The entire idea is that if the vaccine is used correctly, THE VIRUS WILL NEVER REACH YOUR AREA. If it does, the vaccine failed to do its job.

I find no problem with 3.... as long as 1 and 2 are also being done and 3 is not legislated. People tend to be too incautious with sanitary procedures at the best of times.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38731532)

There are live flu vaccines. From the CDC site;
"The nasal-spray flu vaccine — a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that is given as a nasal spray (sometimes called LAIV for “Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine”). The viruses in the nasal spray vaccine do not cause the flu. LAIV is approved for use in healthy* people 2 through 49 years of age who are not pregnant."
Here are some of the side effects possible from a LAIV vaccine;
"In children, side effects can include runny nose, headache, wheezing, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever. In adults, side effects can include runny nose, headache, sore throat, and cough. Fever is not a common side effect in adults receiving the nasal-spray flu vaccine."
Most people would call those side effects the flu. One may not get the same flu as being inocculated against but one may get a lesser case of flu

Furthermore, vaccines aren't used to stop people from getting infected; they're used to stop the movement of a virus from one location to another.

You are completely wrong here. Vaccines stopping people from being infected therefore when people move around they are not infected and therefore can not spread the infection. How do you think a vaccine that does not stop infection stops movement?

The entire idea is that if the vaccine is used correctly, THE VIRUS WILL NEVER REACH YOUR AREA. If it does, the vaccine failed to do its job.

What is your idea on what "correctly" is? Vaccinate everyone in an outbreak area? What about people who travel with the virus before the outbreak is recognized? Vaccinate everyone in the world? Not going to happen unless legislated and then money and vaccine supply is an issue. Trace everyone who left an outbreak area and vaccinate everyone they came into contact with? Given air travel this scenario rapidly becomes "vaccinate the world".

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38732632)

There are live flu vaccines.

I stand corrected. I can't imagine why someone would ever want to infect themselves with such a thing, except as a last resort.

You are completely wrong here. Vaccines stopping people from being infected therefore when people move around they are not infected and therefore can not spread the infection. How do you think a vaccine that does not stop infection stops movement?

I wasn't talking about the effect, but the purpose. Of course a vaccine has to stop infection... but vaccines are not guaranteed to stop infection in an individual, as the vaccine may not "take," or the virus may mutate prior to exposure to the point where the immunity is worthless. It's about statistical probability, and decreasing the pandemic spread of the virus. I admit that I was extremely vague about this on re-reading what I wrote.

What is your idea on what "correctly" is? Vaccinate everyone in an outbreak area? What about people who travel with the virus before the outbreak is recognized? Vaccinate everyone in the world? Not going to happen unless legislated and then money and vaccine supply is an issue. Trace everyone who left an outbreak area and vaccinate everyone they came into contact with? Given air travel this scenario rapidly becomes "vaccinate the world".

"correctly" is based on the projected spreads as analysis by trained virologists indicates. People who are high risk should be vaccinated (children, parents of young children, people working in jobs that have high exposure to changing groups), and move out from there down the risk tail as supply and time allows. Incidentally, live strains should never be given to people in those categories IMO, even if the alternative is no vaccine. Better that people stay home for a day or so if the need arises.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726808)

So.... should I get the vaccine, or just continue panicking?

It's so hard to choose between manufactured fear, and placebo relief.

Feel free to do both. Getting the vaccine doesn't help prevent panicking (about this variation of the flu, any variation of the flu, or anything else for that matter). ;-)

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726230)

That's not what pandemic means. (A flu which affects a wide area and makes people sick is just regular old seasonal flu.) A pandemic is an epidemic of a single flu strain which occurs on a global scale.

Don't make me define "epidemic" for you.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726416)

Getting the Flu sucks regardless. I don't lose any sleep over these stories because I make a best-effort to get the latest Flu shot when available. The parent poster can suck it. If he doesn't want to get vaccinated, that's his call. Persuading other not too is simply irresponsible on his part.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726996)

No, not getting the Flushot for yourself is also irresponsible. The Vaccine only works on "some" people. If you fail to get the flu shot yourself, catch the flu and then pass it to some vulnerable child or elderly person that the flu shot did not have an affect on and they die, you're directly responsible for their death.

I don't suggest we make it a law. You're body is your body. But you should know exactly what you're doing when you decided to spout this anti-vaccine nonsense fad. You're risking lives. Not just your own, but your entire family and everyone you meet. You should be shamed, shunned, and generally hated. I wont let un-vaccinate kids anywhere near my kid. I may very well start doing the same with adults.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38727952)

Um, just wondering, how did you arrive at this conclusion?

"you're directly responsible for their death"

Sounds like you need to go back to high school, and re-learn some basic logic.

If this is how you live your life, then your kids have worse things to fear than other non-vaccinated kids... Other kids might get the flu, now and then, and they will get better. But your kids will be permanently damaged by your fearful, irrational and retarded parenting. If they do ever get better, it will take decades. I can only hope that their own experiences later in life will expose you for the cowardly suck of a "father" that you are.

You should be shamed, shunned, and generally hated.

Instead of spreading your vile hatred and telling everyone else how to be, maybe you could just vaccinate yourself and those you are responsible for, and then please shut the fuck up?

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38727968)

No, not getting the Flushot for yourself is also irresponsible. The Vaccine only works on "some" people. If you fail to get the flu shot yourself, catch the flu and then pass it to some vulnerable child or elderly person that the flu shot did not have an affect on and they die, you're directly responsible for their death.

Nope. It is not my fault that some people are so vunlerable. Their vulnerability is their own problem - taking precautions is their own responsibility.

Similiar: We don't outlaw peanuts just because some allergics can die from them. Instead, they avoid the peanuts. And we don't block out all light just because a few people are allergic to light. Instead, they stay in windowless basements. And we shouldn't disallow cats because some people are allergic either...

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Darktan (817653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38729204)

And we shouldn't disallow cats because some people are allergic either...

Yes we should! Stupid walking balls of allergens....

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728076)

The Vaccine only works on "some" people. If you fail to get the flu shot yourself, catch the flu and then pass it to some vulnerable child or elderly person that the flu shot did not have an affect on and they die, you're directly responsible for their death.

No, by definition, you're indirectly responsible. Not directly.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728188)

^This.

People like GP piss me off. They get all high and mighty and can't even be bothered to use proper terminology.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728486)

...you're directly responsible for their death.

I don't suggest we make it a law.

It's clear that you're going out of your way to explain the situation as to not contradict yourself. But in fact that's exactly what your doing. Contradicting yourself. While I'm not a lawyer, your statement would seem to hold someone criminally negligent. And while I don't know if a legal precedent has already be established on this front then yes, by de facto, you would need to be vaccinated to prevent prosecution of criminal behavior.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38730788)

forget the shot, just go off in the woods alone and die so no one will catch your illnesses and die.

flu shot advocacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38732850)

We should get the flu shot. Because it may or may not guard against a danger that we may or may not come into contact with.

This is not terribly convincing. Since this is /. and all, folks may become more interested if there were numbers to back this up ie. the odds of contracting the illness are x% for the general pop but only y% for those who received the vaccination.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726576)

It does not have to be "global scale". Here is a quote from the WHO criteria for declaring a pandemic.

"The Pandemic will be declared when the new virus sub-type has been shown to cause several outbreaks in at least one country, and to have spread to other countries, with consistent disease patterns indicating that serious morbidity and mortality is likely in at least one segment of the population."

So a new flu strain in two countries that could cause death in elderly people would be considered a pandemic. That is far from a global scale. It may eventually become global but does not need to be global to be declared a pandemic.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

jomama717 (779243) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728024)

I would argue that "...several outbreaks in at least one country, and to have spread to other countries,..." is a definition of "global scale". What else would it mean?

National scale: multiple outbreaks in a single nation
Global scale: multiple outbreaks spanning multiple nations

No?

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728744)

Sorry but outbreaks is LA, San Fran and San Deigo with and outbreak in Tiajuana Mexico would qualify for "pandemic". Take a look at Europe; Say the outbreaks were in Luxumberg, Belgium and Holland. Multiple countries yet a small area but still qualifies as a pandemic. Neither of these examples cover a large area but both qualify as a pandemic because a virus crossed a border.

To me, global means involving countries from around the world. It does not mean two countries next to each other; That would be defined as international. Now if the definition was at least three continents then I agree with "global"

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38731034)

Interestingly, the media start reporting when they see "epidemic" and start handwaving doom and gloom when they see "pandemic" -- but they ignore the issue when they see "endemic".

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

Sectoid_Dev (232963) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726930)

We all know what epidemic means. It's what is making us and our kids fat.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727100)

The operative word is "may". It may affect a wide area. Or it may be limited to Joe down the street. Too many people think of it as a sure thing. That's why I think it is over hyped.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727382)

Yours is the proper definition. The other is what it has come to mean for many after a few iterations of the news cycle of panic.

OMFG we're all going to DIIIIIIIIIIiiiiIIIIIeeeeeee

Followed in a month of two by: meh.

Re:pandemic == ancient marketing hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726324)

Pandemic isn't exactly a phrase. It's a real word, first used in 1666. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pandemic [merriam-webster.com]
It's probably a good practice to separate linguistics from topics such as conspiracy theories about vaccines.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726676)

the phrase is basically used to sell un-needed vaccinations. The definition is that it *may* affect a wide area. There is possibility that people might get sick.

In other news all research on flu patterns has been suspended since plopez doesn't want his flu vaccine and people *may* get sick.

As a benefit funds have been diverted into researching denail, bullshit, and ignorance. Researchers have already found three new methods for sticking your head in the sand. They are confident more discoveries will be made as they have the opportunity to observe plopez tomorrow.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727000)

People can mock WHO all they want, and hide their heads in the sand, but eventually we're going to get hit with another pandemic like the 1918 flu pandemic, and we'll see where these various types of antivaccers assholes sit. Maybe the seasonal vaccine doesn't do fuck all, and I'm no worse off than I was without it. But even reducing the odds of getting a virulent flue strain seems like a goddamned good idea to me.

Re:pandemic == marketing hype (1)

skydyr (1404883) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727368)

I've read some speculation that the 1918 pandemic was especially virulent because it started among soldiers at the front. Normally, the sickest people with the flu stay home and the less sick are more likely to go out and infect others, leading to the virus becoming less dangerous over time. Among the soldiers, though, the less sick would stay with their companies, limiting their contagiousness, while the more sick would go to the military hospitals, where they would come into contact with more people, and bring somewhat more virulent varieties into a larger number of people. This then lead (by this hypothesis) to an overall strengthening of the dangerousness of the flu before it spread to many countries outside Europe.

warm weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38725930)

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html

Turns out La Nina isn't having any effect this year, it's record warm even though it's supposed to be cold

Re:warm weather (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38725990)

Didn't you hear, last years colder wetter winter was caused by global warming. The same thing that is causing this warm winter. Oh it also caused it to rain last summer but not the summer before, everything weather wise is caused by man made global warming!

Re:warm weather (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726236)

Didn't you hear, last years colder wetter winter was caused by global warming.

You must live in Texas.

Re:warm weather (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726940)

This is why we don't listen to the mainstream media for scientific matters.

Also, last winter wasn't that cold and wet, except in the eastern US (and there, mostly just cold, not so much wet) where all the major media markets are, and so people think we actually had some ground-breakingly cold winter last year when in fact it really wasn't that bad, even for the areas that experienced it.

Re:warm weather (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726028)

Are you talking about one continent? I only ask because La Nina and El Nino have an effect on multiple continents. Not to mention that global climate change will most likely affect these sorts of large climate patterns first.

Re:warm weather (2)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726138)

Supposed to? I think you need to take statistics 101.

Re:warm weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726158)

Because it is record warm is why the birds are flying exactly where you live bro. Duck and Cover!

Re:warm weather (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726910)

It is actually having quite an effect. The thing is that the areas where there a lot of people who pay attention to this stuff: the US and Europe, La Ninas tend to produce warm and dry conditions in the winter. Of course, other things are going on, such as a massive stratospheric polar vortex, fed by a recent uptick in solar activity and other internal factors (potentially fall snowcover patterns, if you can believe that).

agriculture / climate (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726006)

I'm guessing there's an intermediate step where the short term climate change means more/less domesticated birds, and/or one season's winter being more or less severe means more or less travel and more or less snow days.

Dude in China can't catch bird flu from a bird that he didn't keep because feed is so expensive, and I can't catch it from my coworker if I'm trapped at home in a blizzard, and/or its so dang warm I can't catch it at the mall because I'm playing outside in the beautiful weather.

Re:agriculture / climate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726072)

A typical post from an AGW promoter.

Something or other might change something, which through a series of tenuous connections might possibly cause something bad to happen to someone somewhere. Give your government more power so it can stop that from happening.

Re:agriculture / climate (3, Funny)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726182)

"dang warm I can't catch it at the mall because I'm playing outside in the beautiful weather."

Just watch out for the West Nile virus. Dengue fever is starting to show up in higher latitudes as well. Better yet, just don't leave the house. And disconnect the computer from the internet so you don't catch a virus that way either.

Re:agriculture / climate (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726432)

... more/less domesticated birds, and/or one season's winter being more or less severe means more or less travel and more or less snow days.

Vague much?

Re:agriculture / climate (2)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726670)

Vague much?

I love the specificity of this sentence.

La Niña? (3, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726108)

The ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation) usually exhibits a period of three to five years - so it's not exactly like La Niña is an uncommon event. If there's a correlation, it's pretty weak.

Re:La Niña? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726498)

Frustratingly, the PNAS article isn't published yet, so it's impossible to assess how they came to their conclusions. Did the Beeb break embargo, or are the scientists actually doing the press release before the paper?

La Nina? (0)

MagicM (85041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726122)

Who's la Nina? Do you mean La Niña? Oh, right...

Re:La Nina? (2)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726218)

I think you're mixing up Spanish with Wingdings.

Re:La Nina? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727264)

Yes, that's what happened when I tried to submit the story. That's why I removed the accent.

Re:La Nina? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727792)

Or you could learn some HTML so you could write “La Niña.” It's pretty easy to look this stuff up...

Re:La Nina? (3, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728608)

Or you could learn some HTML so you could write “La Niña.” It's pretty easy to look this stuff up...

Why in the fuck would you use an HTML entity for a perfectly valid character?
It's SLASHDOT'S fault that anything unicode gets fucked to hell.

HTML entities are for ESCAPING special characters like < via &lt; so they're interpreted and rendered as text and not code.

Re:La Nina? (1)

franciscohs (1003004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727840)

It's not an accent, ñ is actually another letter of the alphabet in spanish. "...l m n ñ o p q..."

Re:La Nina? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728088)

who gives a shit... everyon know what La Nina means... try reseaching pedantic.

La Nina gets too much credit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726164)

La Nina gets too much credit when actually its only one factor in the global weather pattern. For example this past winter alone, the pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation has had a much greater impact than La Nina. You could say that La Nina allows things to happen, it doesn't make them happen. La Nina removes the moderating influence you get with it's opposite, El Nino.

Re:La Nina gets too much credit (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726976)

NAO is only relevant for the eastern US and western Europe. The AO (Arctic Oscillation) is more relevant for the entire northern hemisphere and it indeed has been extremely positive (warm phase) this year in correlation with a strong polar vortex in both the troposphere and stratosphere. The vortex in the troposphere, at least, has weakened a bit of late, allowing the colder temperatures we've seen in the last week or two. Still not enough to really bring a true winter to the eastern US, but better than what we saw in December.

La Nina is it. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38729108)

It affects California, isn't that enough for you?

Pandemic term (0)

mapuche (41699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726228)

The pandemic word is used to create terror. With two patients of the same desease in different continents you have a pandemic.

Re:Pandemic term (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726326)

The pandemic word is used to create terror. With two patients of the same desease in different continents you have a pandemic.

Oh shut up. Pandemics are real. And potentially very dangerous. Not everything is hype. Take some more happy pills or go over to one of the copyright threads and angst there.

Re:Pandemic term (1)

mapuche (41699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726526)

Yes, they are real but we have to learn to stay calm and don't panic.

Re:Pandemic term (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726582)

Yes, they are real but we have to learn to stay calm and don't panic.

Well that takes all the fun out of it.

Re:Pandemic term (1)

mapuche (41699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726660)

There's always the option for an end-of-the-world party.

Re:Pandemic term (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727008)

There's always the option for an end-of-the-world party.

Ummm, it's 2012 -- already booked.

Re:Pandemic term (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727492)

The last few 'pandemics' turned out to be hype, don't you think?

Remember how we were all gonna die from the flu and it turned out to be no worse than any other year?

That's not to say that there haven't been proper flu pandemics in history, just that nothing in recent years should ever have gotten the label. Keep crying wolf and one day you'll be ignored while a wolf eats you./

Re:Pandemic term (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728134)

Remember how we were all gonna die from the flu and it turned out to be no worse than any other year?

I had the swine flu.

It was exactly the same as the regular flu. Meaning since I wasn't elderly, a child, or living with a compromised immune system, I was knocked on my arse for a few days and got a lot of sleep of dubious quality.

The WHO promised me a horrifying but ultimately peaceful end to dealing with coworkers and clients. But here I remain. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. *puts on two pairs of sunglasses, goes back to dealing with bullshit*

It’s inevitable (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726308)

A World Pandemic is eventual, and probably will be worse than previous Pandemics. With Climate Change increasing rapidly, Polution getting worse, and Population on the rise, I'm surprised a global virus hasn't killed millions of people yet.

Re:It’s inevitable (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726608)

Well, it would be hard for the next flu pandemic to not be worse that the last one, since the last flu pandemic killed fewer people in the U.S. than the flu usually kills each year (I do not have worldwide numbers, but my impression is that they were pretty low as well).
The problem with discussions of flu pandemics is that a significant number of people trot out the 1918-19 flu pandemic as what we should be afraid of. The problem with that is twofold. First, it came right on the heals of WWI, with most of the developed world not yet having recovered from the devestation of that event. Second, and more importantly, it was the last flu pandemic before the development of modern medicine (which I date to the development of the first antimicrobial drugs in the 1930s, the sulfonamides). Unless there is a complete collapse of our modern medical establishment, we will not see a repeat of the 1918-19 flu pandemic.

Re:It’s inevitable (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727032)

"Well, it would be hard for the next flu pandemic to not be worse that the last one, since the last flu pandemic killed fewer people in the U.S. than the flu usually kills each year (I do not have worldwide numbers, but my impression is that they were pretty low as well). "

Depends on what sort of flu:

http://virus.stanford.edu/uda/ [stanford.edu]

Re:It’s inevitable (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727266)

I am confused as to what your response has to do with the part of my post you quoted. However, in later portions of my post, I pointed out why it is improbable that we will have a reccurrence of the 1918-19 flu pandemic, as that one occurred before the development of modern medicine.

Re:It’s inevitable (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727112)

WWI certainly exacerbated the 1918 pandemic, but it was hitting parts of the world that really couldn't be considered part of the sphere of the war, so you seem to be stretching things a bit. As to modern medicines, that's true enough, but if you look at what's happened in the UK a few times over the last ten years with medical services absolutely swamped by high numbers of people seeking medical care, well, one can get the sense that if first world healthcare systems really got nailed hard, you can only treat so many people before things hit crisis mode. Of course, a large portion of the world does not enjoy First World healthcare, and since the likelihood is that a pandemic would rise first in one of those areas, it's hard to see how modern medicine could be of much assistance in the initial stages of the outbreak.

Your post stinks of "it can't happen to us because we're so advanced" hubris. But I'll lean towards what the actual experts are saying, that a major flu pandemic would have critical effects on many nations, rather than somebody who seems to believe we have magic flu pills that can make the Big One go away.

Re:It’s inevitable (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727426)

No, I am saying it is unlikely to happen because modern medicine is capable of treating a flu pandemic as is evidenced by what happened in every flu pandemic since 1919. It is not as if the last major outbreak of a flu pandemic was the 1918-19 occurrence. There have been three flu pandemics since 1918 and none of them have been anywhere close to as devastating as the 1918 outbreak. So, this is not a case of being a pollyanna, it is a case of looking at the history of flu epidemics and noticing that the last major outbreak occurred before the development of modern medicine.
Does this mean that I think that those who work in public health should not consider the possibilty of a 1918-19 like flu outbreak? No. It just means that I think that those of us not involved in the public health field don't need to spend any time worrying about it, since the evidence suggests that it is highly unlikely.

Re:It’s inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38731296)

First off let me say that yeah, panic is kinda pointless unless your an epidemiologist charged with stopping a dangerous outbreak - if you live in a city and a dangerous variant of influenza breaks out you're pretty much boned, no sense worrying about it.

Unfortunately, aside from vaccines modern medicine generally has little to offer for viral infections like the flu beyond a saline/nutrient drip to keep you alive a bit longer while your body tries to figure out how to fight it off. Unless there's some reason to worry about secondary bacterial infections, anything your doctor gives you after you've been infected is a placebo at best, and they should probably considered negligent if they do give you something "real" (there's a very good reason safe drugs like penicillin are prescription only). Think about it this way - you're basically trying to destroy an extremely durable protein shell that's only vaguely alive to begin with, without damaging its vibrantly alive and delicately balanced ecosystem, i.e. "the patient". We've got nothing half-subtle enough to do that yet.

As for vaccines - they generally only work for the one particular variant that they were derived from, and those "family member" that "look similar" enough for our immune systems to recognize. The variant used is selected by the researcher's best guess at what this year's problem variant will be (basically random), and they have to start synthesizing it before the first outbreak ever occurs. If they guess wrong you've got millions of doses of completely useless vaccine created at enormous expense, and no time to create enough of another to make any sort of dent in a pandemic.

Finally as far as the threat level is concerned - influenza is potentially one of the most dangerous viruses we know of, 1918 was still relatively mild compared to it's potential. So far we've been lucky and no terribly dangerous outbreaks have occurred since the invention of rapid transit, prior to that - well isolated villages have been wiped out by unknown pathogens throughout human history. To put it in perspective, it was just in the last year or two that some Australian researchers were tinkering with rodent influenza, trying to better understand it's threat potential. One variant, which had only a couple minor tweaks that could easily happen in the wild, ended up being 100% contagious and 100% fatal in their test rats. Great, right? Rat poison is obsolete! Except that it killed its hosts too quickly to spread very far, and could quite possibly cross-breed with human influenza to create something mild enough to eradicate a sizable portion of the world's population. And there's no reason to believe similar mutations won't occur naturally in a human-infecting virus

So yeah, as somebody who enjoys reading doomsday scenarios for a good laugh, I'd say influenza is the most plausible. As in it's only a matter of time until it happens plausible. The only real question is whether we'll be able to contain it, or alternately have developed antiviral drugs that can stop it. There's some promising research being done now - if the outbreak holds off for another 20-50 years it might not be a major problem. If it doesn't... well then we'd better hope the epidemiologists have gotten enough practice fighting these mild versions, and that the politicians are listening.

Re:It’s inevitable (3, Insightful)

246o1 (914193) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727620)

A World Pandemic is eventual, and probably will be worse than previous Pandemics. With Climate Change increasing rapidly, Polution getting worse, and Population on the rise, I'm surprised a global virus hasn't killed millions of people yet.

Perhaps you're unfamiliar with HIV?

Re:It’s inevitable (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38729872)

yes yes, and you'll be very surprised when the world hasn't ended and everyone else is relaxing and enjoying their new-years-eve party on Jan 1st, 2013.
We get it, the end is nigh, blah blah blah.

Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726330)

Holy cow, up until 10-15 years ago (I don't remember exactly when) most of us had never even heard of el nino/la nina.

Now it seems like there's a fairly regular interval at which people come out and say that one or the other of these is the cause of all sorts of great weirdness.

I honestly can't decide if there's any validity to it, or if people are just spending their research grants to tie their research to something which is on a 5-year (ish) cycle ... if you need to wait for the next cycle to continue your research, you get funded for longer.

It may well be that this does drive some of this ... but I've heard it used to try to explain to many things by now it's hard not to think of it as the bogeyman.

Re:Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726430)

Yes, becoming a research scientist is a really easy way to swindle vast amounts of money. Why would anyone bother with finance? Amateurs!

Re:Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726554)

That wouldn't have anything to do with finally having the computing power to do whole Earth weather modelling, would it?

Re:Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727070)

That wouldn't have anything to do with finally having the computing power to do whole Earth weather modelling, would it?

Could be ... could be crank science ... could be conspiracy theories, aliens, Mayan Doomsday calendars, bad breath ... or irrefutable fact.

My point was up until the first time most of us heard of El Nino a decade or so ago ... well, nobody had ever heard of it. And then the next year it was El Nina ... and then every year of so since it's been one or the other that's causing something or another.

It may well actually be causing all sorts of things ... but my perception is that it's now being flogged as the cause of so many things as to make one a little skeptical.

Re:Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728318)

My point was up until the first time most of us heard of El Nino a decade or so ago ... well, nobody had ever heard of it

Well, no.

El Nino/La Nina have long been known to affect the behaviour of hurricanes in the Gulf. So most of us who live down here have been paying attention to them for as long as I can remember...

Re:Yet another El Nino/La Nina story? (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727020)

The reason you didn't hear about it is because we didn't really know about it until a few decades ago. It also got a lot of press with the massive 97/98 El Nino (that's when most people first heard of it) and also in 83/84, the last big El Nino before 97/98. It was first noticed in the late 1900s, though, so it's hardly new even in the scientific world. Now that we have much better measuring and modelling techniques, we can do more useful things with the knowledge of ENSO than we could in the past.

Ep:?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726340)

came as a complet2e

All the hoopla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726882)

over this warm weather is consequential of the haarp people and talk of pandemics, the fearmongering of the chemtrail people who delight in dispersing this sick and twisted scheme upon the world. There are many, many things being dumped on our heads by seemingly anonymous jet aircraft. Any pandemic will not be caused by birds. That's a guarantee.

Meanwhile, hospital borne infections kill.... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726898)

and damage millions of people every year.

http://motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2011/08/graphic-day-hospital-infections [motherjones.com]

Flu - animals and birds. (1)

sempir (1916194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727232)

What's with the animals these days? Sounds like the "Revenge of Animal Farm". Swine flu - Mad cow disease - birds fly in, we get flu, birds fly out - aids(maybe) - Rabies.......Gonna end up dying of antidote overdose!

Doesn't mean what you think it means (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38726972)

That's not a pandemic, shut up and stop trying to inflate your medical industry stock prices.

UTF-8 (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38726986)

In other news, UTF-8 has not gained acceptance in US-centric websites.
It's not that hard: "La niña", "El niño"

Re:UTF-8 (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727602)

And Letterman's favorite, El Dingo.

Eventually the memes will collide and we'll have El Dingo ate my baby.

The sea port (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38727182)

Shut it down!!!

Not sure about the flu but birds are different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38727542)

Was out on a hike and bumped into a park ranger a few days ago. She mentioned the unusual number of birds.

Peruvian Flute bands?!? (1)

BatGnat (1568391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727924)

RUN!!!

So Far things looking good for U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728158)

So far things seem to be looking good for U.S.
Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I) Mortality Surveillance:
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/weeklyarchives2011-2012/bigpi01.htm [cdc.gov]

Full CDC Flu web page
Warning very complex. Understand statistics and medical terminology, and expect to spend hours.
http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/ [cdc.gov]

A Slashdot Editor's Goldmine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38731524)

The editors must have whooped with delight when they stumbled upon a story that covered BOTH global warming and vaccination.... Now we just need to tie in US politics, terrorism, patents and hot grits, and we're all set....

Old news (1)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38731714)

Anyone who has seen "Morte a Venezia" (1971) already knows about the ability of climate to spread disease.

A.

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