Avian flu may portend a 1918-like pandemic, says Osterholm

first_imgNov 15, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The nature of the widespread avian influenza outbreaks in Asia points to the threat of a human flu pandemic that could rival the disastrous pandemic of 1918-1920, infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, warned in a public forum in Minneapolis last week.There are disquieting signs that the H5N1 virus circulating in Asian poultry flocks could do as much damage to humanity as the “Spanish flu” virus of 1918, said Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of this Web site.The H5N1 virus has already killed 32 people in Asia, and disease experts say it could trigger a pandemic if it acquired the ability to spread easily from person to person. If that happened, said Osterholm, it’s unlikely that an effective vaccine could be made available quickly.”At minimum, assume we will not have a vaccine in the first 6 to 8 months of a pandemic,” he told healthcare professionals at a clinical infectious disease conference Nov 12 at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome.Osterholm spoke the same day the World Health Organziation (WHO) concluded a 2-day international conference on pandemic flu that drew about 50 vaccine company executives and government officials to WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO officials at the meeting urged governments to invest in vaccine development to help head off a pandemic.Osterholm said the 1918 pandemic caused “at least 40 million deaths, but probably closer to 100 million, if you talk to the historians.” A disproportionate number of victims were healthy young adults, he added.Given the lack of good defenses, Osterholm estimated that a 1918-like virus arising today could cause more than 1.7 million deaths in the United States and as many as 177 million worldwide. (Editor’s note: The estimate of 264 million deaths that was originally published here was later recalculated to adjust for age.) The US death toll in 1918 was about 500,000.In 1918, he said, flu victims suffered severe lung damage that led to acute respiratory distress syndrome and often died within 48 hours, he said. Further, it was the virus itself, rather than a secondary bacterial infection, that led to death in many cases.Osterholm cited signs that the H5N1 virus could cause the same kind of severe disease as the 1918 H1N1 virus if it triggered a pandemic. He said researchers recently have largely recreated the 1918 virus by sequencing its genome from preserved tissue samples from victims of the pandemic.In lab experiments, researchers have spliced key genes from the 1918 virus into present-day flu viruses and then exposed mice to the genetically engineered viruses, Osterholm said. Viruses that normally wouldn’t harm the mice have been rendered lethal by this procedure. “It’s not only killing the animals, but the pathology is identical to what we saw in 1918” and in human cases of H5N1, he said.Further, Osterholm said studies of the H5N1 virus isolated from recent human patients point to a gene that causes a “cytokine storm”—a flood of molecular messengers triggering inflammation—similar to what was seen in the 1918 victims. In effect, the body’s immune system response to the infection, rather than the infection itself, is what makes the situation so dangerous. It also explains why healthy young adults, with their robust immune system, may be at particular risk.Multiple obstacles would make it next to impossible to produce an effective vaccine and make it rapidly and widely available if a pandemic began now, according to Osterholm.The world’s total production capacity is about 300 million doses, with manufacturers concentrated in just nine countries. With current technology, it takes 6 months or more to grow flu vaccines in chicken eggs, and the yield from a given number of eggs is no more predictable than a corn crop.”Production capacity will not increase significantly in the next several years,” Osterholm predicted. He said vaccine makers want to develop a cell-culture method of producing flu vaccine and are unlikely to spend money to increase production with the traditional egg-based technology.The National Institutes of Health is developing a vaccine for the H5N1 virus, with Aventis Pasteur under contract to make 2 million doses. But Osterholm said the immunogenicity (ability to trigger an immune response in laboratory tests) of the candidate vaccine “has been poor.””The earlier versions of this [vaccine] are not protective against the current strains,” he said.In the early stages of a pandemic, he concluded, “I don’t believe we’ll have a pandemic influenza vaccine of any substantial nature.”He added that while antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir could be helpful in fighting a pandemic virus, they would be in short supply.last_img read more

Local Theater Offers Behind-the-scenes Look at Celebrity Life

first_imgFacebook66Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Rebekah Finn for Harlequin ProductionsFrom May 4 through May 25, 2017, Harlequin Productions is offering a satirical glimpse into the behind-the-scenes life of a famous actor in the play Present Laughter by Noël Coward. The play is set in 1938 London, but the struggles and triumphs of a famous personality are relevant in any decade.“Essentially, when you boil it down, it’s a problem of celebrity,” explains Harlequin’s Linda Whitney, who is directing the production. “Imagine being Brad or Angelina,” Whitney continues. (She’s referring to Pitt and Jolie, respectively, of course.) At that level of fame, everyday tasks become multi-staffed affairs, and everyday decisions and relationships become the subject of public scrutiny. Whitney describes that complexity and scrutiny as the “high price of celebrity, even though there are a great many things to enjoy about it.”Present Laughter centers on the character of Garry Essendine, a successful actor who certainly enjoys the perks and pays the high price of celebrity, especially in his relationships.“He is separated from his wife because he’s a philanderer, and she can’t take it anymore, yet she remains his best friend and business partner,” Whitney explains. Rather than continue a romantic relationship, the Essendines have figured out “a more viable, less painful arrangement.” Although she lives in her own separate house, Liz Essendine is still close with her husband and his staff. Liz’s relationship with Garry’s secretary is a compelling look at the connection between two mid-life women who share a deep care for and devotion to the same man.Kate Burton, whom you might recognize from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, plays Liz Essendine in a currently running Broadway production of the play. Burton’s description appears in a Playbill article by Olivia Clement: “I thought Present Laughter was sweet, fun, and frolicsome,” says the actor. “But now I realize what a brilliantly written play it is with such complex characters.”Laura Hanson and Ann Flannigan. Photo courtesy: Harlequin ProductionsAnd what a broad range of characters there is, all interacting with each other, orbiting around the star, and getting themselves into complicated, hilarious situations. One of those characters is a young man who is fascinated with Garry but can’t always keep up with social cues. When the play was first staged in 1942, they couldn’t make the homosexual overtones of that fascination overt, but that aspect of the relationship definitely plays a part in the comedy and humanity of the situation.Throw into the mix a maid who is a spiritualist exploring the occult, an infatuated debutante, a “barracuda” of a producer’s wife who is on the seduction path, and an impending trip to Africa with only a week to prepare!Aaron Lamb as Garry Essendine. Photo courtesy: Harlequin ProductionsPresent Laughter is what is considered a classic “comedy of manners,” defined by Merriam-Webster as “a comedy that satirically portrays the manners and fashions of a particular class or set.” In this case, the leisure-class of show business artists and administrators in wealthy 1930s London gets the satirical treatment. Playwright Noël Coward is a paragon of the genre, which includes dialogue that runs to the edge of the page.Unlike other styles, where communication happens in interruptions and with long breaks for action and body language, each actor in a Noël Coward play is allowed to speak in full sentences and set up a joke completely before delivering the punch line. With so many words to pass back and forth, the actors must be able to grasp the style, rhythm, and wit of the dialogue in order to perfect the comedic timing and keep the play moving. Fortunately for Harlequin Productions, actor Aaron Lamb has mastered the mannerisms of this style of comedy and leads an excellent cast as Garry Essendine. Other cast members include Helen Harvester, Ann Flannigan, Dennis Rolly, Bruce Haasl, Maggie Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Marianna de Fazio, Laura Hanson, Xander Layden and Gabe McClelland.Cast of Present Laughter. Photo courtesy: Harlequin ProductionsAs for the set, costumes and technical aspects that go into the play, “it’s astonishing what our team can do,” says Whitney. One of her original attractions to the play was the opportunity to create a beautiful picture with the sophisticated art-deco style of the 1930s. The set, props, and costumes practically (and sometimes literally) sparkle with elegance. Deep royal colors, graceful florals and chic hats characterize the outfits. One dressing gown (gentleman’s bathrobe) is even printed with a peacock feather design in lush velvet.The peacock feathers show up elsewhere in some of the ladies’ dresses and hats and even more prominently in a painted accent of the luxury apartment set. Along with other tropical scenes, an intricate, plumed peacock adorns the gorgeous woodwork onstage, which includes a built-in bookshelf and fireplace, sweeping grand staircase, alternating light and dark chevron wood paneling (all paint, but it looks so real!), and at least five doors inviting a bevy of comedic entrances and exits.In Present Laughter, we are invited into the personal home of a famous actor with a chance to see the hilarity and the real struggles of the “backstage life,” reminding us all that celebrities are also real people. And yet, we continue to idolize them constantly. Some celebrities play into that role and fully capitalize on imagery of spiritual deities, which seems to satisfy some sort of desire for divine royalty among fans. (Beyoncé’s 2017 Grammy’s performance comes to mind.)Aaron Lamb and Helen Harvester. Photo courtesy: Harlequin Productions “Some things never change,” Whitney points out. “Celebrities may have Twitter accounts and send selfies around the world now. But there’s that same human need for heroes, for immortals. And we deem them superhuman.” But at some point, those superhuman expectations come face-to-face with the human reality. In Present Laughter, Garry Essendine is confronted with the limitations of his own humanity, and the expectations that surround him are put to the test. Whitney: “Garry is an idolized man who was a big star and continues to be a big star. But he’s having a mid-life crisis; he’s ready to not have to keep up that front.”To experience this delightful dive into the deep (and hilarious) waters of human relationships for yourself, call the Box Office at 360-786-0151 or stop by at 202 4th Ave. E in downtown Olympia to subscribe, and visit the Harlequin Productions’ website for more information.last_img read more

Kolby’s fundraiser exhibition game a success

first_imgA fundraiser exhibition hockey game between the Trail Smoke Eaters and the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack raised $11,285 for Kolby’s Trust Fund last Saturday. A special account has been set up at the TD Canada Trust branch in Trail for Kolby Zanier, daughter of Smoke Eaters assistant coach Barry Zanier, as she continues her road to recovery. Kolby is currently in Edmonton recovering from groundbreaking heart surgery — she has suffered from Alstrom Syndrome since birth. Alstrom’s is a rare genetic disease that affects many organs in the body, including sight, hearing, kidney failure and liver impairment. Most common affect is a decreased heart function that leads to the heart having difficulty pumping blood efficiently to all parts of the body. During tests in mid-July at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital it was determined Kolby Zanier would need a transplant and on August 28th she successfully received an LVAD or left ventricular assistive device — also known as HeartWare. Kolby’s parents have since taken a leave of absence from their respective jobs — Barry a teacher in Rossland and Aileen with Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. The Zanier family also has two other daughters who have been traveling to Edmonton from the West Kootenay, costing the family a considerable amount of money. The Smokies, like so many others in the community, wanted to help with those costs. The Smoke Eaters would like to thank Patty and Terry Martin for spearheading Saturday’s event, and the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack for traveling to Trail to face the Smokies in Saturday’s game. The 2011-2012 regular season home opener is Friday, Sept. 23 vs. the Westside Warriors at Cominco Arena. The Smoke Eaters will continue raising money for “Kolby’s Trust Fund,” and are planning more special silent auction items for opening night.last_img read more


first_imgRafael Bejarano30411313%60%$543,655 NFL LEGEND PARCELLS BUYS SURFER GIRL FILLYWhen the two-year-old filly with the succinct name of Shy runs in Monday’s $100,000Surfer Girl Stakes at a mile on grass, the owners won’t be trainer Vann Belvoir and his wife, Sauci, as previously listed, but Duane Charles Parcells.Known worldwide as “Bill” Parcells and nicknamed “The Big Tuna,” the 75-year-old Parcells twice coached the New York Giants to Super Bowl triumphs, in 1986 and 1990. He retired as an NFL coach in 2006 after 19 seasons, his final with the Dallas Cowboys, compiling an overall mark of 172-130-1 and an 11-8 playoff record.He was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1994 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.“We sold her yesterday morning,” Belvoir said Saturday at Clockers’ Corner.Shy, a bay daughter of prolific turf sire Kitten’s Joy, was a troubled second in her debut, closing well to be beaten less than a length going a mile on grass at Del Mar Sept. 5.“She was a little ‘shy’ coming between horses, no pun intended,” Belvoir said. “Seriously, they squeezed her down the lane. She’s a legit horse and has a big chance on Monday. My wife came up with her name, but I don’t know how. She likes one syllable names.”The Surfer Girl, race six of nine: Happy Mesa, Florent Geroux; Deer Valley, Drayden Van Dyke; Con Te Partiro, Flavien Prat; Simmy’s Temple, Santiago Gonzalez; La Force, Rafael Bejarano; Doowop Shedoo, Mike Smith; Miss Southern Miss, Kent Desormeaux; Miss Sugars, Tyler Baze; Shy, Gary Stevens; Lady Beware, Martin Garcia; and Auntjenn, Norberto Arroyo Jr. Richard Baltas1724112%41%$153,170 JockeyMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won Jamie Theriot1531220%40%$110,655 Mike Puype420050%50%$50,100 PERFECT PIC GETS OFF RAIL FOR LA WOMAN STAKESJim Cassidy is hoping Perfect Pic gets a better start from the three hole when she runs in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 LA Woman Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 6 ½ furlongs on the main track.The Ontario-bred daughter of Candy Ride was second as the 2-5 favorite last out on Sept. 17 when breaking from the No. One post position for the second time in her two starts.“Absolutely it should be better,” said Cassidy, trainer of the three-year-old filly for principal client Deron Pearson, who campaigns as D P Racing. “She had trouble in her last start, but this is a tough race. Luminance is the one to beat; I think it’s a pretty solid race.”The LA Woman field: Wild At Heart, Mike Smith, 9-2; Indriya, Rito Almanza, 15-1; Perfect Pic, Santiago Gonzalez, 3-1; Luminance, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5; Gloryzapper, Stewart Elliott, 3-1; Juno, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Doodetta, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; and Harlington’s Rose, Joe Talamo, 15-1. (Current Through Friday, Oct. 7) Bob Baffert1124118%64%$391,035 FINISH LINES: Streaking Breeders’ Cup Sprint contender Drefong worked four furlongs in company Saturday under Rafael Bejarano in 46.80. “He looked good,” said Bob Baffert, who employed Lemhill Basr (47.40) as a running mate . . . Also working for the Breeders’ Cup was Juvenile Fillies favorite Union Strike for trainer Shelbe Ruis, going five furlongs in 1:00.80 . . . Trainer Doug O’Neill has nine horses entered at Santa Anita today and one, 6-5 morning line choice Jimmy Bouncer, in the $100,000 Harris Farms Stakes at Fresno. “It’s not a record for us,” said O’Neill assistant Leandro Mora. “I believe we had 12 in on a Cal Cup card a while back.” . . . Mike Smith and Mario Gutierrez have stakes engagements at Belmont Park today, while Kent Desormeaux rides What a View at Keeneland in the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile . . . Congrats to apprentice Austin Solis on registering his first Santa Anita victory yesterday, by three-and-a-half lengths aboard Altaira ($11) for leading trainer Peter Miller in the fourth race. Solis now has 12 career victories, just 5,019 shy of his Hall of Fame father and current CHRB Commissioner, Alex . . . Surf’s up at Fresno: Ocean lovers might consider playing an exacta today in the first race at Fresno, a 350-yard dash for mules. Two of the seven entrants are trained by Joanie BEACH-Orr and two by Bruce TOWELL. Victor Espinoza1241133%50%$602,345 Flavien Prat2854618%54%$470,605 Peter Miller2073235%60%$207,620center_img SANTA ANITA STATISTICS FOOD GALORE FOR JUST A BUCK ON COLUMBUS DAYIn fourteen hundred and ninety-two, the old ditty goes, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.More than 500 years later, this Monday at Santa Anita, fans can sail to the concession stands and buy beer, soda and hot dogs for just a buck apiece on Dollar Day in celebration of Columbus Day.First post time will be 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 11, 12 and 13. Santa Anita will be open Thursday for simulcast wagering.There will be two stakes races Monday, each offering $100,000 in purse money, the Zuma Beach for two-year-olds at a mile on turf, and the Surfer Girl for two-year-old fillies at a mile on turf. Tyler Baze2432313%33%$106,515 BILL PARCELLS COMES UP ‘SHY’ IN SURFER GIRLPOST 3 BETTER FOR PERFECT PIC ON SUNDAYSANTA ANITA OFFERS DOLLAR DAY ON MONDAYDREFONG WORKS FOR BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT TrainerMts1st2nd3rdWin%ITM%Money Won Mike Smith1131127%45%$160,180 Kent Desormeaux2163129%48%$209,985 Doug O’Neill2935410%41%$156,080 Norberto Arroyo, Jr.2462425%50%$261,905 Mark Glatt1234325%83%$133,968 Peter Eurton820025%25%$177,064last_img read more

Destination Committees to Manage Standards in Resort Areas

first_imgMinister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says the establishment of Destination Assurance Committees (DACs) in resort areas, will ensure high-quality standards in the delivery of the country’s tourism product.Speaking at the first meeting of the Negril Destination Assurance Committee held at the Couples Swept Sway Resort in Negril, on Thursday (July 13), Minister Bartlett said Jamaica’s tourism product must be of the highest level, in order for the destination to remain attractive in the marketplace.“The aim of our partnership is to improve the standards and physical infrastructure of Negril and engage with citizens to ensure that your town and Jamaica are viewed as favorable to visitors, facilitating growth in the sector,” he stated.The Negril Committee comprises representatives of organizations including the Negril Green Island Area Local Planning Authority; the Jamaica Fire Brigade; Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF); the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA); the Municipal Corporation for the parish and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), among others.Minister Bartlett said the DAC will ensure that the industry becomes a powerful catalyst for improving the socio-economic conditions of everyone.“Our focus is to reposition tourism to generate higher growth rates in both visitor arrivals and earnings. To accomplish this growth imperative, we must ensure that all aspects of the product are right and that we can truly deliver on what we promise when we market Jamaica,” he stated.Meanwhile, the Tourism Minister charged the Negril DAC to take their responsibility seriously, ensuring that visitors to that resort town enjoy a safe, secure and seamless vacation.“The Destination Managers in the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will be the link between your DAC and the resort’s tourism stakeholders. In this way, we can stay on top of the needs of the industry and monitor the progress of the developmental efforts,” Mr. Bartlett stated.The Negril DAC is chaired by Elaine Allen- Bradley and will meet once a month.last_img read more

Minister Samuda Impressed with Operations at Plant Quarantine Unit and Export Centre in Montego Bay

first_imgMinister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Hon. Karl Samuda says he is impressed and highly satisfied with the quality of operations at the Ministry’s Plant Quarantine Unit and Export Centre, at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James. “I am very impressed and I am happy to know that this level of surveillance that is being carried out here enables us to export our produce without being confronted with any negative reactions when it arrives at its destination,” Mr. Samuda said.The Minister was speaking with JIS News following an extensive tour conducted of the facility, which was led by Export Complex Manager, Dalton Hastings, on Friday (October 13). The Plant Quarantine Unit has the responsibility to ensure that harmful pests and diseases do not enter Jamaica, and that only the highest quality, pest free produce is exported from the country.The Unit is headquartered in Kingston and operates two export complexes, one at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and the other at Sangster.Minister Samuda said he was also “surprised” to see the extent to which the unit is engaged in all aspects of securing the country’s exports.“For instance, the whole section dealing with fumigation and the care that is being taken to ensure that every item that is packaged and exported are properly fumigated, and offers the maximum safety to the customers at their destinations,” he addedMeanwhile, Minister Samuda said his Ministry would be examining ways in which it could contribute to the expansion of the Montego Bay facility, which he added, is being funded without any additional special budgetary requests. “It is not funded by the budget by special line provision.  They earn money and those resources put together with the Ministry’s ability to provide the necessary funds required to keep it going efficiently, is being done,” he explained.last_img read more