Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Your lungs stop working and you die"

or how I became an expert on avian flu.

I don't have any particular expertise on influenza, avian or otherwise, a year ago. As time went on, I blogged more about it, read more about it, and learned more about it; this lead be to blog more about it, although I haven't been in any sense comprehensive about the subject.

I did write one post I was particularly proud of about how all the recriminations about the Katrina response might be better addressed toward improving the response to the coming bird flu pandemic (which was even referenced by instapundit).

Anyway, earlier this week I got a call from our PR department asking if I'd be willing to talk to a reporter about the immune response to the avian flu. Sure I said, but that's not really my area of expertise. Turns out the reporter had seen my blog and knew I was interested in the issue

So I guess now the old media is following the new. The reporter, Jeff Nesmith, was very well prepared and very knowledgable, having read several of the NEJM articles I had. I think what he needed most was someone knowledgable to walk through the immune response to infection, which I was happy to do.

I'm thinking about blogging an introduction to avian flu, but for now this free full text article from the NEJM is good, but maybe a bit tough for beginners, and this one sets the stage for how bad it could be.

As I talked to the reporter, I said I thought people might be overstating how many people might die, that it wouldn't be 10% of the population. He pointed out that even if it killed 0.5% that would still be 1.5 million people in the US alone.


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