Saturday, January 13, 2018

CDC Grand Rounds: Nuke Detonation Postponed, Severe Flu Response Instead


A little over a week ago (see in Upcoming CDC Grand Rounds: Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation) the CDC announced a timely presentation on responding to a nuclear detonation on American soil. 
Although you wouldn't know it from the predictable and cringe worthy media (and social media) response - this is the sort of thing that, 30 years ago - would have raised almost no eyebrows among the American public.
For reasons not fully explained, the CDC late yesterday switched next Tuesday's Grand Rounds Presentation to the Public Health Response to Severe Influenza. This is admittedly another timely topic - and one that is arguably more pressing - given the current severity of this flu season.

First the details on next week's presentation, then I'll return with a bit more.

Public Health Response to Severe Influenza

January 16, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. (ET)

Note: January 16 CDC Public Health Grand Rounds topic change to: “Public Health Response to Severe Influenza”

Registration is not required to watch our free Grand Rounds presentations. The webcast link below is only active during the date and time of the session, but all sessions are archived for future viewing.

CDC Grand Rounds Live Web stream

The topic for CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds on January 16 will now focus on influenza. With the spike in flu cases around the country, this Grand Rounds will provide key and timely information for public health professionals on how to reduce the spread of seasonal flu in communities and adjust to spot shortages in antiviral drugs because of high influenza activity in some areas.

To date, this influenza season is notable for the sheer volume of flu that most of the United States is seeing at the same time which can stress health systems. The vast majority of this activity has been caused by influenza A H3N2, associated with severe illness in young children and people 65 years and older.

Join us for this session of Grand Rounds to learn what steps can be taken to reduce the spread of flu in communities and adjust to spot shortages in antiviral drugs in some places experiencing high influenza activity.

Note: The previous public health topic will be rescheduled for a future Grand Rounds.

CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds Presents:

“Public Health Response to a Sharp Increase in Severe Seasonal Influenza”
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET)

Global Communications Center (Building 19)
Alexander D. Langmuir Auditorium
Roybal Campus
Presented By:

Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS)
Principal Deputy Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dan Jernigan, MD, MPH, Captain, USPHS
Director, Influenza Division
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Chasing Flu”

David Wentworth, PhD
Chief, Virology, Surveillance, and Diagnosis Branch, Influenza Division
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“The Problem of H3N2”

Alicia Fry, MD, MPH, Captain, USPHS
Chief, Epidemiology and Prevention Branch, Influenza Division
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Mitigating Influenza with Vaccines and Antivirals”

Each month the CDC holds a Grand Rounds event  that focuses on a single health-related issue. In the past I’ve highlighted their broadcasts on such diverse topics as Multidrug-Resistant Gonorrhea, Childhood Emergency Preparedness, and Discovering New Diseases . . . to name a few.
The CDC maintains an archive of these informative presentations – going back to 2009 – which you can access at Grand Rounds – ArchivesHighly recommended.
I don't know how much this past week's public response weighed in on the decision to postpone, but according to yesterday's carefully worded announcement, the `previous public health topic will be rescheduled.

For those of us who grew up during the cold war, discussions of what to do during and after a nuclear detonation are very familiar, and was even considered a suitable topic of conversation for grade school aged kids.

Every child was taught how to  `duck and cover’ by Bert the Turtle in civil defense cartoons, everyone saw the weekly CONELRAD testing on the radio and TV. 
"This was a test. Had this been a real emergency, you'd have been instructed to turn to your local CONELRAD broadcaster for more information. This was only a test"

Prime time TV shows (like this 1955 episode of MEDIC called `FLASH OF DARKNESS') painted a grim picture of nuclear holocaust. 

During the Cuban Missile crisis, when I was about 8 and living in Florida, I got the short course in radiation sickness, fallout shelters, `duck & cover’ drills, and emergency evacuations from my local elementary school.  I recounted some of those experiences in a blog called NPM11: Creating A Family Communications Plan.
While I'm certainly not arguing for a return to that sort of incessant and stark civil defense messaging - particularly to kids - I am dismayed at how we as a society appear to be `triggered' by the mere discussion of certain types of threats. 
We don't get to pick and choose what threats we face, or what disasters will befall us. We need to be prepared to deal with all types of threats, even low probability ones like a nuke detonation on American soil.

But apparently, in this 21st century, the first rule of nuclear preparedness is we don't talk about nuclear preparedness. 

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