Swine flu strikes home, stay informed with early warning system

Swine Flu has just spread through the high school I attended in NY where 75 students fell sick, apparently infected by a few students who recently returned from Mexico.

There are no confirmed cases of swine flu in the city and initial results from the first students tested are said to be coming back negative. Still a Center for Disease Control spokesman said, “We are very, very concerned. We have what appears to be a novel virus, and it has spread from human to human. It’s all hands on deck at the moment.”

The World Health Organization has just reported that these outbreaks of swine flu in Mexico and the United States have the potential to cause a worldwide pandemic.

These events reminded me of the near release of Ebola and Marhburg viruses in a suburban area of Virginia described in the book “The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story“.

It was shortly after reading that (nearly 7 years ago) when I began to subscribe to the ProMed-mail infectious disease notification system.

The International Society for Infectious Diseases having members from over 155 countries operate a program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases; ProMed-mail is an electronic outbreak reporting system that monitors infectious diseases globally.

ProMed-mail describes itself as:

The global electronic reporting system for outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases & toxins, open to all sources. ProMED-mail, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

They have set up their Twitter account back in February but have not yet started using it for notifications.

Perhaps they need to raise some more money in order to bootstrap using Twitter as notification mechanism for those who subscribe (which I already do!). Its a worthy organization and service, please consider donating.

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