Wednesday, May 24, 2006

H2H avian flu transmission in Indonesia?

“Tell the truth. Just don’t tell the whole truth,” my AP English teacher said. It seems that The World Health Organization is following this advice in the wake of a recent Avian Flu outbreak in Indonesia.
A woman who worked selling vegetables contracted the H5N1 virus, possibly from live animals that were sold in the market where she worked. She brought the infection home and this resulted in the death of a total of six family members. A seventh family member was able to survive the infection.
In a conservative move the WHO has not explicitly stated that Human to Human (H2H) transmission is at play in this outbreak. Instead WHO said:

“no evidence that efficient human-to-human transmission has occurred”

Many Infectious Disease Professionals are arriving at the conclusion that H2H has occurred, although this transmission has not been efficient. So what’s the big deal? People who monitor H5N1 become suspicious when the WHO tells part of the truth. So when the WHO says genetic sequencing of this Indonesian flu strain shows no significant mutations in the virus, people may be skeptical. Especially since the sequencing is not freely shared with researchers.
The bottom line is that H5N1 has changed in this respect: it appears that people with no direct contact to poultry can become infected with the Avian Flu. This is a new development…or it is new because we are uncovering more of the whole truth?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

DHS Designates our Biodefense Technology

With as much emotion as engineers and researchers can muster, everyone at our firm celebrated an important achievement last Friday.

We received DHS SAFETY Act Designation!

In order to understand why this was so important to us, you’ll probably need to know what the SAFETY Act is. In 2002 the US Congress passed the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act. The law aimed to help bring anti-terrorism technology to the market place. Law makers were concerned that issues surrounding liability would prevent much needed security technology from being developed and deployed.

The SAFETY Act set predetermined liability limits for the manufacturers and users of Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies (QATT) for claims arising out of a terror attack. The SAFETY Act effectively removes many of the barriers facing new defense technologies. As those barriers decrease, adoption of critical infrastructure protection technology increases.

Why are we so happy?
The Designation recognizes all of the exhaustive efforts of our staff. DHS requires comprehensive data during the application process. Once compiled, the application is scrutinized by a group of technical experts empanelled by the DHS.

Our team spent more than 300 man hours in the compiling, writing and submission of the application. The months of hard work paid-off on Friday when we read the words in the letter from DHS Under Secretary Jeffrey Runge:
“I hereby designate the Technology as a Qualified Anti-terrorism Technology and issue a Designation…for the technology.”
We are in good company. Other enterprises that have successfully earned Designation include Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrup-Grumman and IBM. We’re not as large as those companies…at least not yet!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bird Flu goes Hollywood

ABC is airing a 2 hour made for TV movie dramatizing the outbreak of a deadly pandemic flu. “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” is certain to start people talking about the pandemic problem, but some health experts are concerned the drama may inaccurately portray the real situation.
In a breaking of precedence, the US Federal Government is prepared for a flood of potential inquiries from Americans who watch the movie. Health and Human Services has issued ‘talking points’ for staff who may encounter bird flu related questions.
While some health care experts are panning the pandemic thriller for hype, tv critics seem to agree it is good television.
The Hollywood report recommends the movie!
Hopefully the movie will cause conversations about the bird flu, and maybe, just maybe it will lead to better understanding of infectious disease. For that reason alone, I would give the effort two thumbs up!

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ohio Hospital Association

Ohio Hospital Association
We just returned from attending a seminar in Dublin, Ohio (just northwest of Columbus). VIGILAIR Systems was there due to our relationship with the Ohio Hospital Association. More than 100 delegates from across Ohio gathered to learn more about the rigorous Joint Commission Environment of Care survey methodology and standards
Our company President and I met many committed professionals who typically work behind the scenes at hospitals, yet are critical for healthcare to function.. We were pleasantly surprised at the level of delegate awareness regarding hospital acquired infection and possible contributing environmental factors.
Seminar moderator Ed Snyder kept the day long tutorial fast paced, fresh and interesting. I would strongly recommend him and his organization (, to anybody in healthcare who wants to exceed JACHO’s expectations.
Expanding on our recent successes in the Pennsylvania market, we look to work closely with many of healthcare professionals in Ohio, such as those who attended the ‘Practical Answers to the Tough EC Questions’ seminar hosted by the OHA.

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