Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Translating the News

Love or hate Matt Drudge, he's got a keen eye for important stories. I saw this on his website the other day and wondered why it had made his page. Who cares if a South African tourist dies in Rio? I read the story then I understood.

This is news because whenever any person dies of a disease that might be a hemorrhagic fever then the whole western world takes note, for it might be the harbinger of a biologic weapon attack. Click here to read about hemorrhagic fevers, and here to learn about what might happen if a group of crazy Dutch or Swedes were able to weaponize them. Sleep well, Obama's got your back.


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  2. And to think, we are worried about some nut jobs getting their hands on nukes.

    What terrifies me isn't the nukes. Don't get me wrong, it would be PLENTY bad. However a bio weapon, properly (or improperly) deployed could wipe out a large chunk of the human population. Don't know if you've ever read about the exercise Uncle Sammy did a few years back that had weaponized small pox entering the US via Atlanta (I think). In six weeks, 1/3 of the US population was in a box, power, water, transportation were all out. The rest of the planet had slammed our borders shut (of course, it didn't matter since you can spread that delightful disease for a week before you show symptoms). It really was the end of the world as we know it. They stopped the simulation before the pandemic ran its course due to the simulated collapse of any effective governance in the US. Grim.

    On a lighter note, Just got my latest Journal Watch today. Did you know that if you admit a medicare patient via the ED for pneumonia the hospital LOSES $67, but if that patient comes as a direct admit, the hospital makes around $700? Has to do with the DRG reimbursement. For a pneumonia admission, as well as many other diagnosis, medicare only pays a flat rate for bundled services. This is driving many hospital's decision to keep admitted patients in the ED so they can keep bringing in patients, with the same diagnosis as those in the ED, but actually make money! Wild.

  3. it is worse than wild, the fracturing of the doctor-patient relationship is about much more than f***'ed up economics.

    more and more i meet young, bright paramedics, nurses, or high schoolers who ask me 'should i go to medical school'. i do not answer immediately 'yes' or 'no' but i do answer that unless they will not be able to go to their grave feeling they have accomplished their dream without being called 'doctor' that they should look elsewhere.

    in other words, if this isn't your calling, find something else to do, go to PA school and start a business on the side, go join the fire department or get your PhD if you want to be another kind of 'doctor', but stay away from this mess if you can.

    on the positive side, while whole platoons of paper pushers figure out ways to lose money treating patients with pneumonia, i remain employed, and i am grateful for that. also grateful that i am not easily replaced.

    if the government were to allow fee for service medicine to be reimbursed by medicare/medicaid (which is the standard which insurance companies follow) then competition would return to medicine, and not only would a practitioner make a bit of money treating the CAP patient above, but he or she might actually present him or his insurer with a bill that didn't need to be printed on eight pages of paper, and was significantly less than the one they will receive now.

    but i digress, weaponized biological weapons may well be our apocalypse, just remember the anthrax letters and multiply by ten million.

  4. Oh well. It's just ebola.

  5. Ironic thing is your typical coughing Pakistani Cab Driver is more toxic than Weapons Grade Ebola... And theres a vaccine for Small Pox and Anthrax, ya just gotta ask for it, we keep it in the back with the 60 inch Plasmas...

  6. I think you are all missing the point. It's the BELGIANS we need to worry about.

    Oh, and the Swiss.

  7. kkmd's story should be read carefully: whenever someone states "we need socialized medicine because the free market model has failed in medicine in the US.", just recount the above story. This ain't no free market bitches.

  8. "but i do answer that unless they will not be able to go to their grave feeling they have accomplished their dream without being called 'doctor' that they should look elsewhere."

    That's what you told me! (Oddly enough still haven't applied to MedSchool =p )

    "i remain employed, and i am grateful for that. also grateful that i am not easily replaced. "

    And that's why I have a job. THE FREE MARKET AT WORK! (Kinda)

  9. Hey I had a case of Cholera here from an "undocumented" worker that arrived from a nameless country just South of the US. (and rhymes with Texaco). Homeland Security and the CDC both got involved. When it turned out that it wasn't much of a "threat", the undocumented worker was lost to followup. Still working in the food industry, just a different name and social, I'll bet.

    Still, I wouldn't worry about a bioweapon, though. Any good terrorist knows to bomb the four or five factories that manufacture narcotics. When the Percs and Vics disappear, there will be riots in the streets...

  10. Me and my boyfriend fell in love while discussing our love for hemorrhagic fevers. The Cobra Event is one of my favorite books.

  11. That's funny. When I had a case of Marburg, I was pooping my bowels out and bleeding from my nipples. One night, we were on this date at a really nice restaurant and I sneezed on my girlfriend and some of the black bits of my infected soft palate got on her. It was funny and we laughed because I was eating a nice rare prime rib and the bleeding from my eyes dripped on the plate to mix with the prime rib. Then she got it and died. So hemorrhagic fevers can bring love and ruin it, I guess is the moral of the story.

  12. Igloodoc,

    Mugabe told me to tell you that Cholera doesn't exist, and if it does, the English did it on purpose.

  13. just because i'm paranoid doesn't mean there's not some twist-top out there fumbling around with aerosolized ebola. just sayin'.

    also, you might be interested in the book 'biohazard' by alibek, a summary of which follows...

    In this fast-paced memoir, Ken Alibek combines cutting-edge science with the narrative techniques of a thriller to describe some of the most awful weapons imaginable. The result will remind readers of The Hot Zone, Richard Preston's smart bestseller about the Ebola virus. That book focuses on the dangers of a freak accident; Biohazard shows how disease can become a deliberate tool of war. Alibek, once a top scientist in the Soviet Union's biological weapons program, describes putting anthrax on a warhead and targeting a city on the other side of the world. "A hundred kilograms of anthrax spores would, in optimal atmospheric conditions, kill up to three million people in any of the densely populated metropolitan areas of the United States," he writes. "A single SS-18 [missile] could wipe out the population of a city as large as New York."
    Chilling passages like these, plus discussions of proliferation and terrorism, make Biohazard a harrowing book, but it also has a human side. Alibek, who defected to the United States, describes the routine danger of his work: "A bioweapons lab leaves its mark on a person forever." An unending stream of vaccinations has destroyed his sense of smell, afflicted him with allergies, made it impossible to eat certain kinds of food, and "weakened my resistance to disease and probably shortened my life." But it didn't take away his ability to tell an astonishing story. --John J. Miller