Friday, 10 January 2014

Why one watches the webs for the worst of the woes...

In an article on BAYTODAY.CA,written by @HelenBranswell, there is a fantastic quote that really defines why infectious disease bloggers, and public health professionals working through more official channels, get all fired up when they cannot have or find, information that could be used to help monitor or understand disease outbreaks. 

"We breathe the same air. We drink the same water. We fly on the same planes. And an infectious disease outbreak anywhere is a potential risk and threat to all of us," said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the center for global immigration and quarantine at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

"And we just have to constantly pay attention and stay vigilant."

The influenza H5N1 death in Canada has and continues to generate a huge amount of interest. It's also generating no small amount of confusion over how the infection was acquired by this late 20-something East Asian female who worked in healthcare at Red Deer Regional Hospital. Apart from that, this infection also highlighted that when many eyes focus on a case, it is very difficult to keep a patient's details, work, travel routes and trip details, secret for long. 

Does intentionally withholding any or all of age, sex, date of onset, date of hospitalization, and perhaps a few other deidentified details truly hinder a globally connected world's efforts to uncover these details? Seems not. Whether those details hinder a patient's ability to remain anonymous I cannot say; I said other things about that recently though.

In the meantime, interested and involved professionals and amateurs alike use what information they have to hand to bend their minds towards seeking answers and making comments that might help solve mysteries like this. Because they try to help. For the benefit of all of us. I suspect, regardless of the communicative devices available to them and the extent of the interconnectedness in which they abided at the time, they always have and they always will.