Archive for H1N1

Trojan Pig

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2013 by rgwallace

Chicken and pig exports 1961-2011To get a handle on the world’s traffic in livestock for a paper I’m co-authoring, I graphed FAOSTAT data on global live chicken and pig exports by head, 1961-2011.

The time series appear to track geographically lengthening production-demand discrepancies–areas of high production meeting demands elsewhere. Globalization exploded in chickens by 1990–not long preceding bird flu H5N1–and, after a starting wobble in the 1990s led by the United States and NAFTA, in pigs by 2000.

Indeed, even excluding illegal trade the stats don’t pick up, pig exports more than doubled by the end of the decade, when swine flu H1N1 (2009) appeared with genomic segments from influenzas circulating among pig populations in both Eurasia and North America. New agricultural ressortants appear to be accumulating at an accelerating pace since, including H1N1v, H1N2v, H3N2v, H7N9, and now a new series confirmed last week, H6N1.

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Protecting H3N2v’s Privacy

Posted in Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2013 by rgwallace

US H3N2v.1This past week the Guardian published a series of stunning articles on the extent of surveillance the National Security Agency has been conducting on U.S. citizens and millions of others worldwide.

Proponents of such programs, including President Obama, have contended secretly collecting our internet and phone metadata–when, where and with whom we connect–is about our protection.

I must say that as an evolutionary epidemiologist I find it a fascinating defense, if only because there have been several efforts aimed at producing geographies of deadly influenzas for which it has been nearly impossible to get governments across the globe, including the U.S., to provide the locales and dates of livestock outbreaks.

It’s as if the privacy rights of these viruses–and really the farms over which they spread–are better protected than those of the populations epidemiologists are ostensibly trying to protect.

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The Bug Has Left the Barn

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by rgwallace

Cary Grant His Girl Friday 2Hildy Johnson: [speaking to Walter on the phone] Did you hear that? That’s the story I just wrote. Yes, yes, I know we had a bargain. I just said I’d write it, I didn’t say I wouldn’t tear it up! It’s all in little pieces now, Walter, and I hope to do the same for you some day!
[hangs up emphatically]
Hildy Johnson: [to the other reporters] And that, my friends, is my farewell to the newspaper game.
–Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, His Girl Friday (1940)

On Thursday the local paper here published two articles the editors could never connect in a million years, even if it had occurred to them to do so. Think trying to stick together two powerful magnets of the same polarity.

The first—big headline on the front page, “FLU OUTBREAK RIVALS DEADLY 2009 PANDEMIC”—described a record 123 Minnesota children testing positive for flu at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, higher than the highest week during the 2009 outbreak.

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We Need a Structural One Health

Posted in Ecological resilience, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by rgwallace

No one ever says to you, “Lie to me.” The enemy says, You will do and believe certain things. It is your decision to falsify, in the face of his coercion. I am not sure this is what the enemy wants, or anyway the usual enemy. Only a Greater Enemy, so to speak, would want that, one with greater objectives, and a clearer idea of what the ultimate purpose of all motion is. –Philip K. Dick (1974)

Perhaps unbeknownst even to themselves, many an epidemiologist, veterinarian and wildlife biologist confounds episodic and structural crises.

The good doctors gun from outbreak to outbreak, isolating samples, sequencing genetic markers, administering prophylaxes, and, for epizooses, culling the sickest and burying the dead. To be sure, that kind of firefighting is critical. We can’t have deadly pathogens running amok now, can we?

But the oft-difficult mechanics of an intervention do not lend credence they address the cause of the outbreak. Disease isn’t synonymous with its etiological agent or the map of its victims, whether or not either is placed within a One Health context that acknowledges the functional ecologies humans, livestock and wildlife share.

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Occupy Mathematics

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2011 by rgwallace

I gave the following talk at the New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York City October 17 as part of a Festschrift for my father, and collaborator, Rodrick Wallace. A Festschrift is a symposium held–and a book published–in honor of a scholar, often on his or her 70th birthday. As opposed to a Gedenkschrft, held in memoriam (though there are some scholars who deserve the latter long before they’ve left for the great e-journal server in the sky).

I’ll start off with an old joke about Rod, in the de rigueur Boston accent. The joke runs like this: Equation 1. Equation 2. Equation 3. “We can see here an apartheid state entrains both oppressor and oppressed into a synergy of plagues.”

Equation 4. Equation 5. Equation 6. “It follows then that public health can be saved from a catastrophic vortex if and only if we smash the apartheid state.”

All kidding aside, we would make a mistake assuming Rod’s conclusions arise from his formalisms alone or—winky wink—vice versa. Instead, we should say they arise “and vice versa” and honestly so. Or better yet, inextricably so.

That’d be shocking if only because it would imply cultural and political precepts underlie mathematical mechanics. That the field’s formalisms are as much historical objects as many of the phenomena they address, as a number of commentators, including Wittgenstein and the ethnomathematicians, have ventured.

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The Scientific American

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by rgwallace

Science is the business right now. If the science works, the business works, and vice versa. –Craig Venter

Bird flu marinates a chicken in its own juices, a satay best avoided whatever the menu special. In such short an order better for the bistro than the barn infected birds rapidly bleed from the inside out.

What to do about this bit of bad news?

Broilers and layers are as much commodities as they are birds. As much engineering problems as living organisms. So ask research and development for a solution comes the answer.

It was, after all, by virtue of its open morphogenesis and behavioral flexibility that the chicken was first domesticated multiple times from red and grey jungle fowl distributed across South and Southeast Asia, artificially selected for the backyard, then scaled up in size and population to its factory model.

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The Great Recession Flu

Posted in Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2011 by rgwallace

Swine flu is so 2009. Like La Roux and v-neck t-shirts.

And yet here we are nearly two years later and the United Kingdom is suffering a swine flu attack worse than anything it previously faced. The number of flu patients in intensive care has risen by 60% in the past week to 738, four times greater than at the pandemic’s peak in 2009. Some hospitals are on ‘black alert,’ canceling non-urgent operations and running short on intensive care beds.

Children are taking the worse of the blows. The incidence for the under-four age group is approaching 200 per 100,000, the epidemic threshold, even before the post-holiday return to school, where flus best incubate.

Since its emergence the novel H1N1 strain which swept the planet mid-2009 has quietly remained the world’s dominant influenza strain, sharing the stage with seasonal H3N2 and influenza B. As we’ve discussed several times here, the sustained global presence would likely permit the virus the opportunity to evolve independently across multiple populations under different social and public health regimens.

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