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'Blind spots' could hamper flu scrutiny during shutdown

Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013 6:34 PM
Last updated 7:14 PM
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The government shutdown has crippled the ability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to monitor the flu this season, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The last FluView, the CDC’s national surveillance summary, was done for the week of Sept. 21 and no more will be done until the shutdown ends, spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said. Samples are still coming in from around the country but the CDC can only process the “unusual specimens” that state or local labs can’t identify, she said.

“We will look at it because we will consider it a potential pandemic or novel strain,” Reynolds said.

“We have a responsibility to keep an eye on those.”

The CDC also can’t do any routine testing of samples to see if the current flu vaccine is a good match for the actual flu strains circulating around the country and it also can’t do testing to see if strains are developing resistance to the antiviral drugs currently in use, she said.

The information about resistance is important from a public health standpoint but the CDC surveillance is most helpful as an advanced warning, said Dr. James Wilde, professor of emergency medicine at Georgia Regents University and attending physician in the pediatric Emergency Department at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

“I rely on the CDC to kind of give me an idea of when flu is coming,” he said.

The shutdown will not affect states doing their own surveillance and the Georgia Department of Public Health began its surveillance last week, with its first report out at the end of this week, spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an email. There is some activity in the state, “nothing out of the ordinary,” she wrote, and “we are only at the beginning of flu season.”

There is an alternative for monitoring flu that has proven to be highly accurate and that is Google Flu Trends, Wilde said. The company aggregates search query data and has found in years past a close relationship between the number of people searching for flu-related topics and the number of people who have the flu. There is some limitation to the data Google has versus what the CDC provides, Wilde said.

“It gives us no information about what strains we’re looking at, what sensitivities we’ve got, what the mortality rates, the deaths,” he said, “It doesn’t give us any of that. All that Google Flu Trends tells us is where is flu, in what part of the country and how active is it in that part of the country. But at least it does give us some information that at least temporarily will not be available through CDC.”

The CDC’s mission is to detect, stop and prevent threats, and at least part of that mission is being hampered by shutdown, Reynolds said.

“It is difficult at this point,” she said. “We feel like there are blind spots and those blind spots are getting bigger as we continue with the shutdown.”

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raul
4893
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raul 10/08/13 - 07:32 pm
2
1
Positions that deals with

Positions that deals with public safety should be designated emergency essential from the shutdown. The agency head or the administration is to blame if public safety needs aren't being met.

Sweet son
10415
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Sweet son 10/08/13 - 08:19 pm
3
1
Another example of gov't we don't need!

In the article it quotes a GA official saying: "There is an alternative for monitoring flu that has proven to be highly accurate and that is Google Flu Trends, Wilde said".

Guess what? Being Google I bet it is free. Also incredible is that the CDC rep used the word 'Pandemic' to describe the situation. Seems she was just trying to create public unrest in the interest of her paycheck and job.

Come on folks now is the time to wake up and let the feds know we don't want or need their unneeded and unused depts. or people!

Riverman1
84123
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Riverman1 10/08/13 - 08:13 pm
4
1
The Jail Boss should say,

The Jail Boss should say, "Y'all line up and get your shots."

burninater
9605
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burninater 10/08/13 - 08:24 pm
2
2
Sweet son, you blindly

Sweet son, you blindly disregarded the rest of the point about Google Flu Trends. The flu virus mutates constantly, which is why we need vaccines each year. The vaccine is developed by studying the nature of the current strains -- this is what the CDC does. Google does not do this -- it only tells you who is sick. That info is USELESS in developing vaccines.

Little Lamb
46052
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Little Lamb 10/08/13 - 10:24 pm
4
1
Burn

The vaccines for 2013-2014 are already developed, manufactured and delivered. There is plenty of time to analyze the data for next year's vaccine during the spring and early summer.

This scare tactic is complete hogwash. Flu season in the U.S. occurs in Jan, Feb, and Mar.

People need to chill out and notice how these government lackeys try to scare you to death so they can claim big paychecks, big benefits, and waivers from Affordable Care Act provisions.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 10/09/13 - 05:18 am
1
1
How much do you want to bet,

How much do you want to bet, that even without the CDC "research" we will make it through this flu season and the next; and no more lives will be lost than usual for flu season.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 10/09/13 - 07:27 am
0
0
Highway projects continue. Disease control shuts down.
Unpublished

Leadership an all consuming BEAST can be proud to call his own.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 10/09/13 - 07:28 am
0
0
Ten lanes of Bobby Jones "highway to nowhere" continues while
Unpublished

children starve and flu testing supplies are needed.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 10/09/13 - 07:30 am
0
0
Where are Bill Gates and friends? We need their generosity.
Unpublished

Where are Bill Gates and friends? We need their generosity.

Sweet son
10415
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Sweet son 10/09/13 - 11:50 am
0
0
Thanks LL!

Burninater has a point but development can wait until after her presidents quits playing games over his pet project!!

Darby
25708
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Darby 10/09/13 - 03:55 pm
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0
"Positions that deals with public safety should be designated

emergency essential from the shutdown."

.
In theory yes. But not when your mission is to intimidate and extort concessions from the opposition. Public safety becomes collateral damage, completely acceptable to OzBama.

Little Chucky Schumer had it right when he talked about negotiations with a gun held to your head. However, he had his metaphorical gun in the wrong hand.

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