So many questions, readers, though some lack question marks. They read more like indictments of your humble servant. Is it the homebound audience? Feeling edgy? Oh heck, I asked for it.
1. Yeah, I’m sort of young. My most recent milestone was turning 30. Since then, I lost a job, ended a great relationship, and started preparing for epochal pestilence. Do I seem overly sensitive? (Maybe I should add that I’ve since managed to fall in love.)
2. I do indeed fret that my still-youthful immune system will blow me to pieces. I like to think that my darkened corpse would be recognizable to my parents back home, should someone find me in time. More likely I’ll wind up in a lime pit on Staten Island.
3. I was born well after 1969, that hallmark year of Manson on the Moon that seems to divide geezers with inexplicable antibodies to H5N1 from the rest of us. I personally fear the cytokine storm and I might well resent that our few solutions are going to the elderly who are less likely to experience one.
4. On the other hand, I want my parents to have all the help they need. (They wouldn’t listen to me and are unprepared.) My stepmom is in remission from breast cancer and my dad may have something that at least requires further testing. Like most men, he postponed it.
5. Aged Americans will die in great numbers from everything but the flu. Have you seen those idle ports on TV? China makes most of the world’s penicillin, among other indispensables. My stepmom’s meds aren’t even in motion.
6. I never said I was noble. I’m not taking any chances these days. I researched flu, planned to survive it, then invested in the best ways to do so. What’s wrong with that?
7. Sure, I like social networks. I use them. But I stopped haranguing my friends about flu years ago and I maintain strict privacy settings. Readers of this blog might recognize me only by some songs I post.
8. I’m no kind of medical person. I took biology in high school, never in college or grad school. But I love nature and I’m not stupid. I’ve studied bird flu’s history and evolution for years and years.
I learned from books and from Flublogia, as the informal society of flu bloggers is known. Although they cover a compelling array of infectious diseases, influenza is their primary focus. I commend these generous souls, all linked on my Flu Resources Page.
None in any way resembles Alan Krumwiede, the venal, grasping blogger played by Jude Law in Contagion. (Watch the trailer.) Sure, they’re quick-witted, enterprising newshounds who were first to grasp that swine flu was breaking out along the U.S.-Mexican border in 2009. Unlike the villainous Krumwiede, these voluntary reporters and analysts do not profit from their efforts. They won’t accept advertising lest a Tamiflu pitch, for instance, pop up to erode confidence in their musings about antivirals.
For daily insight on anything significant that comes up, I look first to Avian Flu Diary. Blogger Mike Coston is a retired EMT and preparedness stalwart who covers a lot of issues as Fla_Medic. (Peek into his emergency “bug-out bag” and his list of preparedness gifts.) Coston’s site offers one-stop shopping—an exhaustive flow of linked citations and thoughtful commentary, complete with earnest charm and flashes of wit.
Though I follow others, too, my short list of superb bloggers includes retired writing professor and dean of Flublogia Crawford Kilian at H5N1, IT expert (and Computerworld blogger) Scott McPherson at Scott McPherson’s Web Presence, Vincent Racaniello at Virology, and Maryn McKenna’s Superbug at Wired.com. Good, newsy sites also include those of Arkanoid Legent in Malaysia and Flu News Network from Cottontop, an upstate New York mother and longtime flu forum commenter. Many draw on timely reports from Dr. Michael Osterholm’s CIDRAP and on the crowdsourced global disease surveillance that takes place every day at the excellent FluTrackers community board.
9. Finally, patient readers, I would never call the cops on a noisy party. I favor freedom and initiative. I’d yell at them myself if I felt it necessary. Or crash it, if I liked their music.