Monday, April 27, 2009
By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer Mike Stobbe, Ap Medical Writer – Sun Apr 26, 8:03 pm ET
ATLANTA – As reports of a unique form of swine flu erupt around the world, the inevitable question arises: Is this the big one?
Is this the next big global flu epidemic that public health experts have long anticipated and worried about? Is this the novel virus that will kill millions around the world, as pandemics did in 1918, 1957 and 1968?
The short answer is it's too soon to tell.
"What makes this so difficult is we may be somewhere between an important but yet still uneventful public health occurrence here — with something that could literally die out over the next couple of weeks and never show up again — or this could be the opening act of a full-fledged influenza pandemic," said Michael Osterholm, a prominent expert on global flu outbreaks with the University of Minnesota.
"We have no clue right now where we are between those two extremes. That's the problem," he said.
Health officials want to take every step to prevent an outbreak from spiraling into mass casualties. Predicting influenza is a dicey endeavor, with the U.S. government famously guessing wrong in 1976 about a swine flu pandemic that never materialized.
"The first lesson is anyone who tries to predict influenza often goes down in flames," said Dr. Richard Wenzel, the immediate past president of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.
But health officials are being asked to make such predictions, as panic began to set in over the weekend.
The epicenter was Mexico, where the virus is blamed for 86 deaths and an estimated 1,400 cases in the country since April 13. Schools were closed, church services canceled and Mexican President Felipe Calderon assumed new powers to isolate people infected with the swine flu virus.
International concern magnified as health officials across the world on Sunday said they were investigating suspected cases in people who traveled to Mexico and come back with flu-like illnesses. Among the nations reporting confirmed cases or investigations were Canada, France, Israel and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, in the United States, there were no deaths and all patients had either recovered or were recovering. But the confirmed cases around the nation rose from eight on Saturday morning to 20 by Sunday afternoon, including eight high school kids in New York City — a national media center. The New York Post's front page headline on Sunday was "Pig Flu Panic."
The concern level rose even more when federal officials on Sunday declared a public health emergency — a procedural step, they said, to mobilize antiviral medicine and other resources and be ready if the U.S. situation gets worse.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say that so far swine flu cases in this country have been mild. But they also say more cases are likely to be reported, at least partly because doctors and health officials across the country are looking intensively for suspicious cases.
And, troublingly, more severe cases are also likely, said Dr. Richard Besser, the CDC's acting director, in a Sunday news conference.
"As we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease," he predicted. "We're going to see more severe disease in this country."
Besser also repeated what health officials have said since the beginning — they don't understand why the illnesses in Mexico have been more numerous and severe than in the United States. In fact, it's not even certain that new infections are occurring. The numbers could be rising simply because everyone's on the lookout.
He also said comparison to past pandemics are difficult.
"Every outbreak is unique," Besser said.
The new virus is called a swine flu, though it contains genetic segments from humans and birds viruses as well as from pigs from North America, Europe and Asia. Health officials had seen combinations of bird, pig and human virus before — but never such an intercontinental mix, including more than one pig virus.
More disturbing, this virus seems to spread among people more easily than past swine flus that have sometimes jumped from pigs to people.
There's a historical cause for people to worry.
Flu pandemics have been occurring with some regularity since at least the 1500s, but the frame of reference for health officials is the catastrophe of 1918-19. That one killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people worldwide.
Disease testing and tracking were far less sophisticated then, but the virus appeared in humans and pigs at about the same time and it was known as both Spanish flu and swine flu. Experts since then have said the deadly germ actually originated in birds.
But pigs may have made it worse. That pandemic began with a wave of mild illness that hit in the spring of 1918, followed by a far deadlier wave in the fall which was most lethal to young, healthy adults. Scientists have speculated that something happened to the virus after the first wave — one theory held that it infected pigs or other animals and mutated there — before revisiting humans in a deadlier form.
Pigs are considered particularly susceptible to both bird and human viruses and a likely place where the kind of genetic reassortment can take place that might lead to a new form of deadly, easily spread flu, scientists believe.
Such concern triggered public health alarm in 1976, when soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., became sick with an unusual form of swine flu.
Federal officials vaccinated 40 million Americans. The pandemic never materialized, but thousands who got the shots filed injury claims, saying they suffered a paralyzing condition and other side effects from the vaccinations.
To this day, health officials don't know why the 1976 virus petered out.
Flu shots have been offered in the United States since the 1940s, but new types of flu viruses have remained a threat. Global outbreaks occurred again in 1957 and 1968, though the main victims were the elderly and chronically ill.
In the last several years, experts have been focused on a form of bird flu that was first reported in Asia. It's a highly deadly strain that has killed more than 250 people worldwide since 2003. Health officials around the world have taken steps to prepare for the possibility of that becoming a global outbreak, but to date that virus has not gained the ability to spread easily from person to person.
Updated: 04/26/2009 04:47:44 PM PDT
Even as more cases of swine flu emerged nationwide, Los Angeles County reported none over the weekend, but federal health officials said today they are "very pessimistic" that the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the unique virus infecting people in the United States, Mexico and other countries.
A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said Sunday afternoon that tests of the seasonal vaccine and the new virus show no cross-reaction, suggesting that people who got the vaccine have no added protection against the new bug.
It's possible that people who have been exposed to flu viruses every year - especially older people, with a greater exposure history - may have some natural immunity, the CDC official said in a call with reporters.
Federal health officials called for a public health emergency on Sunday, because of the uncertainty surrounding the strain, an unseen combination of bird-swine-human viruses.
Meanwhile, several countries reported cases of swine flu throughout the day. Mexico reported 1,384 people have been sickened, with 86 deaths.
The United States confirmed there are 20 cases, no deaths.
States affected by swine flu are California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas.
Other countries reported cases,but no deaths.
New Zealand reported 10 suspected cases; Canada confirmed six cases; Spain reported seven suspected cases; France reported one suspected; Israel reported one suspected case.
In the United States, safety measures include roughly 12 million doses of Tamiflu being moved from a federal stockpile to be delivered throughout the nation. Travelers at the borders are being asked about travel to flu-stricken areas.
Safety measures worldwide include airports screening travelers from Mexico for flu symptoms. China, Russia and Taiwan plan to put anyone with symptoms under quarantine. Hong Kong and South Korea warn against travel to Mexican City and three provinces.
Italy, Poland and Venezuela advised citizens to postpone travel to affected areas of Mexico and the United States. For information on swine flu, including prevention, go to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's website at http://lapublichealth.org/
As the UN warns the swine flu outbreak
, Tansy Huws, originally from London but now living in Mexico,
to describe her experience of swine flu.
I have been living in Mexico for only three weeks. The symptoms started last Sunday when I got home.
From one minute to the next I got nauseous and had very high fever. I just couldn't get out of bed during the whole week.
On Friday night I received a call from a friend wondering why I hadn't been around.
When I told her about the symptoms she told me to call the British Embassy. They told me to call the hospital.
The people at the hospital told me not to take any drugs so that the symptoms were clear and I could be diagnosed.
I went to the hospital on Saturday. There were many people at the hospital waiting to be diagnosed.
“ I think swine flu is very different from a normal flu because I just couldn't get out of bed ”
The test was very simple - they just asked me questions and measured my blood pressure.
They prescribed me Tamiflu and I am now feeling much better now.
I asked them if it was swine flu but they weren't very clear, the information wasn't very good.
I think swine flu is very different from a normal flu because I just couldn't get out of bed.
I think that the really ill people will not be able to go to hospital, and that the people who are able to go there are the people who don't have swine flu.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/27 09:02:22 GMT
© BBC MMIX
11:37 | 27/ 04/ 2009
MOSCOW, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - Countries around the world began measures to prevent a swine flu pandemic, as the human death toll from the virus rose to 103 in Mexico, with hundreds of other suspected cases.
Twenty human cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the United States and six in Canada, and suspected infections have been reported in New Zealand, Israel and Europe. The United States has declared a public health emergency.
The European Commission has called for an urgent meeting on the situation.
"The Commissioner in charge of public health has already asked for an urgent meeting of health ministers," Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told journalists in Athens on Monday. "We are following the situation very closely, together with the member states."
Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told reporters on Sunday that 103 people in the country are believed to have died from the virus, of which 20 cases have been confirmed.
The minister said that a total of 1,614 suspected human cases have been identified.
Mexico City, one of the world's largest cities, came to a virtual standstill on Sunday, as people stayed in their homes. City Mayor Marcelo Ebard said that stores and leisure facilities could remain closed for the next 10 days.
Several countries including Russia have advised their citizens to avoid travelling to Mexico, and have pledged to put any people showing symptoms of infection under quarantine.
China has banned pork products from Mexico and parts of the United States.
The New Zealand government reported several suspected cases on Monday, among a group of teenagers returning from Mexico. France, Israel and Spain also cited suspected cases among people returning from the Central American country.
World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan warned on Sunday that the outbreak had "pandemic potential", and urged governments to improve measures to monitor the virus.
According to the WHO, the mortality rate from swine influenza is between 1% and 4%. The virus often goes undetected, as the symptoms are similar to those of ordinary flu.
However, the WHO said on its website that cooked pork products do not pose a health risk.
"Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs. The swine influenza virus is killed by cooking temperatures of 160°F/70°C."
April 26, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Mexico City -- International officials Saturday declared the swine flu outbreak in Mexico and the U.S. a "public health emergency" as new cases were reported on both sides of the border and fears grew of a possible global epidemic.
The Mexican government indicated that the outbreak was more severe than originally acknowledged, announcing that more than 1,300 people are believed to have been infected. The virus, which the World Health Organization's top official said had "pandemic potential," is now suspected in the deaths of 81 Mexicans, Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova said.
Also Saturday, the Mexican government gave itself extraordinary powers to quarantine and forcibly treat infected people and to search homes and intercept suspected flu sufferers on public transport.
The emergency decree follows measures that have included the closing of schools in the worst-affected areas until May 6, and the temporary shutdown of museums, clubs and theaters in Mexico City. Hundreds of concerts, private parties and other events were canceled as federal and local officials urged people to avoid large gatherings.
In the United States, a new swine flu case was discovered Saturday in California and two in Kansas, bringing to 11 the number of confirmed incidents of the disease north of the border. All patients have recovered. Eight schoolchildren in New York City are suspected to have a form of swine flu.
At the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Dr. Anne Schuchat said the agency expected more cases and that containment was "not feasible."
"Having found the virus where we have found it, we are likely to find it in many more places," Schuchat told reporters in a telephone news conference. "It is clear that this is widespread, which is why we do not think we can contain spread of this virus."
Many in Mexico City took heed of the health warnings. A city of 20 million people can't ever really be a ghost town. But on a warm, sunny Saturday, only a fraction of the crowds that normally converge on this metropolis' parks and plazas were out and about.
People either stayed home, limited their weekend wanderings or wore masks in hopes they would be protected.
"Maybe it does some good," said Yolanda Flores, 40, a vendor who was arranging embroidered blouses at a stand in downtown Mexico City. She spoke through a loose blue paper mask, one of thousands distributed free by soldiers at metro stations and in the massive central Zocalo, or square.
A gallery opening for eminent artist Gabriel Orozco went ahead as scheduled, with patrons appearing somewhat carefree, sipping beer and juice. But some expressed concern.
"There is a lot of risk," said Anabell Villareal, a 45-year-old businesswoman in tight black jeans who had artfully draped a scarf across her mouth. "We are on alert. But by taking precautions we can continue to live with other people."
For many Mexicans, initial alarm over the outbreak was giving way to anger over the health crisis and skepticism about how the government was handling it. Mexico's flu season was intense and people were dying long before the government sounded the alarm Thursday, after a Canadian testing laboratory identified the unique strain, a mix of human, bird and swine flu viruses.
"The problem is this government never tells you the truth," said lawyer Jose Fernandez, striding mask-free through the posh Polanco neighborhood. "We don't know what's real and what isn't, just how serious this is, at what point they knew about it. . . . And it makes Mexico look bad."
Fernandez had just eaten breakfast with his two sons, Gonzalo, 16, and Pepe, 10, and they were taking a walk. The boys, however, were wearing masks. Just in case.
The only mask that Julio Rojas Ruiz had put on his 8-year-old son was a bright red plastic version of those used by Mexican wrestlers.
"The government is just trying to distract us from other problems, like the economic crisis," he said. "Or maybe it's even worse than they're saying?"
The World Health Organization on Saturday declared that the outbreak of the unique strain of swine flu is a "public health emergency of international concern."
Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, said the outbreak "has pandemic potential" because it appears to be transmitted from human to human. But she noted that it was far too early to predict whether a pandemic would occur.
In London, a British Airways crew member was taken to a hospital as a precaution after developing flu-like symptoms on a flight from Mexico City, the airline said Saturday, Reuters news agency reported.
In the United States, CDC field teams are assisting local investigators in California, Texas and Mexico, officials said.
The toll appears to be rising steadily in Mexico. On Saturday, 16 states -- twice the number of just two days ago -- were reporting suspected swine flu cases. Almost all of the deaths so far have been in Mexico City and Mexico and San Luis Potosi states.
One of the big unknowns in this outbreak is why the disease is so deadly in Mexico but has been milder in the United States. CDC officials cited several possibilities, including inferior environmental and general health conditions in Mexico, or a slightly different pathogen in the strain. Other experts said the flu's virulence could have been exacerbated by the slow response of Mexican health officials.
President Felipe Calderon said, "We have to avoid this becoming a pandemic."
The emergency decree he authorized Saturday also empowers government security forces to prevent gatherings if they are deemed a threat to public health.
About 70% of Mexico City's theaters, museums, clubs and dance halls obeyed orders to close, city officials said. Schools, already shut in Mexico City and Mexico state, will also be closed in nearby San Luis Potosi.
Soccer tournaments went ahead as scheduled -- but with fans barred from attending matches. The Roman Catholic Church said Mass would be celebrated today, but asked parishioners to wear masks and not greet one another with handshakes or embraces.
Traffic was as light as it is when the city shuts down over Christmas break; the sprawling Chapultepec Park, where thousands of families throng on weekends for picnics, boating on the lakes or playing volleyball and riding bikes, was close to deserted.
"There is no one," said Magdaleno Zamorano, 70, who had set up a food stand to sell fried bread and popcorn. "I think the government is fighting this, but people are afraid, just in case. But I have to come here. If I don't work today, tomorrow what do I eat?"
The Anthropological Museum, where President Obama presided over a gala state dinner just nine days ago, was shuttered, like most such cultural venues. Dejected tourists, including three Canadian women who had traveled to Mexico just to visit the famous museum, read the notices posted at the doorway and turned away.
A huge black bow indicating mourning was tied to the museum's facade. It is in memory of the museum's director, who died of pneumonia. The health secretary said his death was not related to the swine flu epidemic.
(04-26) 13:58 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --
The U.S. declared a public health emergency Sunday to deal with the emerging new swine flu, much like the government does to prepare for approaching hurricanes.
Officials reported 20 U.S. cases of swine flu in five states so far, with the latest in Ohio and New York. Unlike in Mexico where the same strain appears to be killing dozens of people, cases in the United State have been mild — and U.S. health authorities can't yet explain why.
"As we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease," predicted Dr. Richard Besser, acting chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We're going to see more severe disease in this country."
At a White House news conference, Besser and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sought to assure Americans that health officials are taking all appropriate steps to minimize the impact of the outbreak.
Top among those is declaring the public health emergency. As part of that, Napolitano said roughly 12 million doses of the drug Tamiflu will be moved from a federal stockpile to places where states can quickly get their share if they decide they need it. Priority will be given to the five states with known cases so far: California, Texas, New York, Ohio and Kansas.
Napolitano called the emergency declaration standard operating procedure — one was declared recently for the inauguration and for flooding. She urged people to think of it as a "declaration of emergency preparedness."
"Really that's what we're doing right now. We're preparing in an environment where we really don't know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be."
One thing that is different about a major pandemic is just how hard it hits patients and how rapidly it kills. Patients affected by the flu can be broadly categorized into 3 prognostic types. The first type has a poor prognosis no matter what is done for them. The second might survive if there was full access to high technology medical care and resources. The third type is highly likely to recover from the flu as long as they are provided with consistent low-technology supportive measures that can be administered in home settings.
Type 1 patients have the poorest prognosis and almost all will die within 2 or 3 days of the development of their first symptoms. The cause of death in these patients during the 1918 flu was massive respiratory failure from overwhelming lung-destroying viral pneumonia. There was no effective treatment for this in 1918, and there is none today despite all the advances in medicine that have occurred over the last 90 years. Signs and symptoms of type 1 patients include rapid onset of severe shortness of breath, cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin of the hands, feet, and around the mouth and spreading centrally), or bleeding from the lungs, stomach and rectum.
Type 2 patients are similar to type 1 patients except they do not die after 3 days. Some but not many of these patients would survive if they had access to an ICU, ventilators and expert medical care but if we have a severe pandemic, those resources will not be widely available. Even if they had access to these services, many of them would die anyway. Remember, no matter what you do, they are likely to pass away in a week to 10 days after becoming ill.
Type 3 patients make up the majority of those that become ill with influenza. Fortunately, these patients have a good prognosis if they receive timely and diligent supportive care that can be provided well in a non-medical setting such as the home. Most of these pandemic flu victims will be severely ill and weakened by the infection such that they will be too ill to get out of bed. Many type 3 patients will be completely dependent on others for care. Without simple care, some of these patients will die from preventable causes like dehydration but with simple care, most of these patients will recover. No matter how good the care provided, some type 3 patients will die. This is not your fault. This happens usually because they develop a serious secondary condition that actually becomes the cause of death. Examples of these secondary conditions include bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and heart attack. There is nothing you can do but keep doing the best you can and let nature take its course.
The influenza virus usually enters the body through the respiratory tract but can also gain access through the intestinal tract. The virus causes a variety of symptoms with fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose and general aches and pains as the leading ones. In addition to these principal symptoms many also experience headache, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
These symptoms could be due to some other infectious agent or even the influenza virus but not the pandemic strain since it is possible that both endemic (routine seasonal flu varieties) and pandemic strains could both be circulating in the community at the same time if the pandemic flu appeared during the November-March flu season. In fact, this scenario is what looks to be the most likely time for the pandemic to begin. The best guess for the start of the pandemic at this point is between December 2005 and April 2006.
There are several ways to tell the difference between the flu and less severe illnesses. First of all, unless the flu is circulating in the community, then your illness is probably not flu, because it tends to occur in epidemics that are easy to spot epidemiologically. If the world is in the midst of a major pandemic, you will have no problem knowing about it. Just tune into CNN, as it is likely to be wall-to-wall pandemic coverage 24/7. Another clue to whether or not someone has flu is that flu is much worse than simple cold viruses or most other causes of respiratory or gastrointestinal (GI) infections. The fever and body aches are really quite remarkable and often associated with strong shivering.
When flu affects the GI tract it presents with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Patients with flu are really sick and often are so weak they have a hard time getting up out of bed without help. So, one way to tell the difference between the flu and other infections is that the flu is really severe and tends to affect the respiratory track most often, but can also cause severe gastroenteritis (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea).
It is likely that the healthcare system will be the first societal institution to collapse under the strain
In the event of a major pandemic, healthcare services and especially hospital services will be rapidly overwhelmed. It is likely that the healthcare system will be the first societal institution to collapse under the strain, with recovery not expected until after the return of other essential utilities and services. It is true that the first victims of the flu will get excellent treatment, including hospitalization and even ventilators if required. Before long, though, all the available resources will become exhausted.
In order to reduce healthcare costs, hospitals have significantly reduced the number of available patient beds and nursing staff. In fact it is a common occurrence today for hospitals to be “on bypass” when it comes to accepting critically ill patients in their emergency rooms via ambulance. This happens when every ICU and CCU bed is already occupied in the hospital. During a routine flu season these days, the number of patients hospitalized in critical condition is such that all these critical care beds and available ventilators in many US cities are fully occupied for weeks each year. So you can imagine that if the number of critically ill patients presenting to the hospital emergency department with pulmonary failure from influenza suddenly increased exponentially over those expected with the seasonal flu, the chances of getting an ICU bed or ventilator would not be good. Once the pandemic settles in, the hospitals will be full, including waiting rooms and hallways. The medical staff will be sick themselves; some will be dead. The hospital will quickly run out of supplies such that there will be a shortage of everything from drugs, IV fluids, to body bags. So, in my opinion, it would be unwise to remain in the city so you can take advantage of the healthcare system in case you become ill.
Food supplies are likely to become limited in the event of a major pandemic. Storing a supply of canned meat and fish, dried beans, and rice is a prudent consideration. Consider basics like salt, sugar, cooking oil, and multiple vitamins as well. If food shipments are interrupted to the urban centers, it won’t be very long before food is gone from the grocery shelves. If you have any doubt about this, think back to what happens when there is a threat of an ice or snowstorm.
The power grid is fragile in the US, especially on the east and west coasts. Despite the brown and black outs of 2003, not much has been done to reduce the vulnerability of the power grid, the energy bill passage in July 2005 notwithstanding. The grid is literally interconnected such that what happens in one part has an impact in another. While the grid has some built-in automatic circuit breakers designed to isolate a power overload condition before it spreads and causes a widespread blackout, for the most part, the system is operator dependent.
Much of the power production in the US is coal fired and these units depend upon regular delivery of coal by rail. Power industry guidelines call for the plants to keep at least a 25-day coal stockpile to ensure uninterrupted power production in the event of a coal supply disruption. If a critical number of system engineers employed by the plant, the railroad, or the coalmine become ill, die, or are otherwise absent as a result of the pandemic this would result in the shutting down of that plant if coal supplies run out. Nuclear plants could be shut down if the number of plant personnel fell below a predefined threshold for safe operation of the plant.
Since plant and grid repair and restart crews would also be affected in a similar manner to the engineers, the time to bring the shutdown system back up will also be more prolonged than under normal conditions. If enough plants are affected, this raises the chances of brownouts or blackouts affecting large regions of the US that could be quite prolonged.
The interruption in electric power service could last a month or two at most. One way to cope with this is by having a small number of key battery operated devices like lighting, flashlights, and a radio. Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries are now available that are a much-improved rechargeable battery compared with what was available in the past. Good selections of excellent battery chargers that use solar power for energy are now available. These
chargers can be coupled with a photovoltaic (solar power) module that will reliably and quickly (if big enough) charge your NiMH batteries over and over again. Good NiMH batteries, various chargers, and a selection of small PV modules suitable for this purpose can be purchased from Real Goods at www.realgoods.com.
Public water systems employ a host of professional and operational staff that would be expected to experience illness at the average rate of the community as a whole. So, absenteeism could affect service reliability, as would loss of electric power, as these utilities use electric pumps to pressurize their systems. If water service is interrupted for a time, remember to wait a while before drinking the water once service is restored because it may be contaminated with bacteria initially.
It would be prudent to have some potable water available for use in an emergency. Tap water can be stored in 55-gallon drums. Make sure the drum you purchase is new or if not, that it is OK for storage of potable (drinkable) water rather than one that held toxic chemicals. You might also consider how you could divert rainwater from your downspouts for storage and drinking. Water collected from the roof will need to be purified before drinking because it could be contaminated. I found several helpful water purification suggestions on the US Federal Emergency Management Administration’s web site.9
Local TV and Radio broadcasts will probably cease if there is a regional power failure in your area as will cable TV. Satellite TV may remain active but you will need an alternative source of power to operate your system to view it since your power will be out. Landline telephone systems have an excellent record of remaining operational even during power failures. In the event of a widespread prolonged blackout, they will not be able to continue to function for very long. Cell phone towers have a small backup power capability but this won’t last long. So if the grid fails, all phone service will as well.
A good quality battery operated radio capable of receiving AM, FM, and Short Wave stations would be a smart way to keep up with local and world events in the event that the usual methods were impaired. Even if there are no operative local or regional news broadcasts, someone somewhere will be on the air reporting the news and providing information of interest to flu survivors. It will be comforting having access to this information should a major pandemic come to pass.
My dear Burt- It is more than likely that you would be interested in the news of this place, for there is a possibility that you will be assigned here for duty, so having a minute between rounds I will try to tell you a little about the situation here as I have seen it in the last week.
As you know I have not seen much Pneumonia in the last few years in Detroit, so when I came here I was somewhat behind in the niceties of the Army way of intricate Diagnosis. Also to make it good, I have had for the last week an exacerbation of my old "Ear Rot" as Artie Ogle calls it, and could not use a Stethoscope at all, but had to get by on my ability to "spot" ' em thru my general knowledge of Pneumonias. I did well enough, and finally found an old Phonendoscope that I pieced together, and from then on was all right. You know the Army regulations require very close locations etc.
Camp Devens is near Boston, and has about 50,000 men, or did have before this epidemic broke loose. It also has the Base Hospital for the Div. of the N. East. This epidemic started about four weeks ago, and has developed so rapidly that the camp is demoralized and all ordinary work is held up till it has passed. All assemblages of soldiers taboo.
These men start with what appears to be an ordinary attack of LaGrippe or Influenza, and when brought to the Hosp. they very rapidly develop the most viscous type of Pneumonia that has ever been seen. Two hours after admission they have the Mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the Cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the colored men from the white. It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate. It is horrible. One can stand it to see one, two or twenty men die, but to see these poor devils dropping like flies sort of gets on your nerves. We have been averaging about 100 deaths per day, and still keeping it up. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a new mixed infection here, but what I dont know. My total time is taken up hunting Rales, rales dry or moist, sibilant or crepitant or any other of the hundred things that one may find in the chest, they all mean but one thing here -Pneumonia-and that means in about all cases death.
I have a copy of 'The Great Influenza' that I bought about 3 years ago. I've been leafing thru it again today to get a sense of the 'now and then' comparisons. So, i'm toying with the idea of taking passages from the book to match what is unfolding now on a regular basis going forward to see how much insight can be gleaned and trends identified. My first entry:
From Chapter 14 'It Begins'
In France there had been some localized flare-ups of influenza during the winter, but they did not seem to spread and behaved like endemic, not epidemic disease. The first unusual outbreaks in Europe occurred in Brest in early April where American troops disembarked. In Brest itself a French naval command was suddenly crippled. And from Brest the disease did spread and quickly in concentric circles.
Still, although many got sick, these outbreaks were, like those in the United States, generally mild. Troops were temporarily debilitated, then recovered. For example, an epidemic erupted near Chaumont involving U.S. troops and civilians; of 172 marines guarding headquarters there, most feel ill and fifty-four required hospitalization - but all of them recovered.
The first appearance in the French Army came April 10. Influenza struck Paris in late April, and at about the same time the disease reached Italy. In the British Army, the first cases appeared in mid-April, then the disease exploded. In May the British First Army alone suffered 36,473 hospital admissions and tens of thousands of less serious cases. In the Second Army, a British report noted, "At the end of May it appeared with great violence.... The numbers affected were very great.... A brigade of artillery had one-third of it's strength taken ill within forty-eight hours, and in the brigade ammunition column only 15 men were available for duty one day out of a strength of 145."
The British Third Army suffered equally. In June troops returned from the Continent introducing the disease into England. But again the complications were few and nearly all the troops recovered. The only serious concern - and it was serious indeed - was that the disease would undermine the troop's ability to fight...
Round 1 - Check. Profoundly similar sounding right down to nearly the precise day of the month, exactly ninety-one years ago.
Will contribute more as conditions progress.
Readers in Mexico have been emailing the BBC describing the sense of fear gripping the country as a result of a flu virus outbreak, which has so far claimed more than 80 lives.
The World Health Organization says the virus has the potential to become a pandemic.
Read a selection of BBC readers' comments below.
I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.
There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here. Antonio Chavez, Mexico City
I am a doctor and I work in the State of Mexico. I don't work in the shock team; I am in the echocardiography team, but I do get some news from my colleagues in the hospital. There have been some cases of young people dying from respiratory infections, but this happened before the alert and they were not reported because the necessary tests weren't done. We doctors knew this was happening a week before the alert was issued and were told to get vaccinated. I went to buy some anti-virals for my husband, who is also a doctor, because he had contact with a young patient who presented influenza symptoms and died. I don't think pharmacies stock enough anti-virals.
I understand the government doesn't want to generate panic, but my personal opinion is that they issued the alert too late. Still now, the population is not getting the information they need. We have been out in the street and some people are not wearing face masks and are not taking any preventive measures.
Guadalupe, Mexico City
“ Friends working in hospitals say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse ”
Alvaro Ricardez, Oaxaca City
I think there is a real lack of information and sadly, preventative action. In the capital of my state, Oaxaca, there is a hospital closed because of a death related to the porcine influenza. In the papers they recognise only two people dead for that cause. Many friends working in hospitals or related fields say that the situation is really bad, they are talking about 19 people dead in Oaxaca, including a doctor and a nurse. They say they got shots but they were told not to talk about the real situation. Our authorities say nothing. Life goes on as usual here.
Young people are going to schools and universities. Buses and planes go and come from Mexico City as frequently as before. Even with two people dead locally, last night the local baseball stadium was full, mainly with young people. What's really happening? I know vaccines are good for nothing, and if you take care, maybe you won't die, so, why not acknowledge the real situation? I know that the economic situation is not the best, and it will worsen with panic. But panic comes from a lack of information. Many people travel for pleasure or without any real need. Stopping those unjustified trips can help a lot to ease the situation. We must do something! Alvaro Ricardez, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico
The truth is that it is very strange, what we are living through here. The streets are empty, we are all staying in our houses. People are only going out to the hospitals, drugstores and to buy food. The great majority have their mouths covered. Concerts, festivals, masses have all been cancelled, the football matches have all been played behind closed doors. On the television and radio, every commercial break contains information on the symptoms, saying that if you have them to go to the doctor at once. Although we have been told to go to work as normal on Monday, I am worried because I am employed at a company where there are many people and believe that it could be highly contagious. They say on the news that the cases that are most critical involve people aged 20 to 50. Nallely T, State of Mexico
“ Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we are all trying to be as safe as possible ”
Mariana, Mexico City
Right now the situation is quite scary. We've never been living under such circumstances and it's caught us completely off guard. We are a developing country so our health system isn't very effective, plus the fact that our city is overpopulated doesn't help much; the government is doing what they can but I don't think it's enough. So the future isn't looking too bright. Everyone is very frightened, there are few people on the streets and we are all trying to be as safe as possible. But not knowing exactly how the virus works and how it can be killed off creates a horrible uncertainty. I'm being pessimistic but that's how most people I've talked to feel. Mariana, Mexico City
It's certainly been very quiet where I'm living in the Historic Centre of Mexico City, whereas normally the centre is almost uncomfortably packed at the weekend. Most people also seem to be wearing the face masks being handed out by the army around the city. There always seems to be a healthy mistrust of the government here, but I wouldn't say I'm sensing a great deal of paranoia or panic. It does seem as though the unprecedented actions being taken by the government to contain the virus don't match with the statistics being provided, however, so there is some doubt as to whether they're just being overly cautious or whether things are a lot worse than what they're telling the public. Randal Sheppard, Mexico City
Right now, things are far from under control here. All the museums, zoos, and concert venues have been closed. Masses, football games, sporting activities, cultural activities, have all been cancelled. All schools will be closed until 6 May, from kindergarten to university. We don't know what to think, the truth is that the government isn't telling us the truth. This case is worst than we think, some people take this just like a joke but not me, this is serious! Als it seems clear that this illness doesn't appear to be affecting the whole country, just Mexico City, the State of Mexico and San Luis Potosi. Carla, Mexico City
I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths. Yeny Gregorio Dávila, Mexico City
The situation in Mexico City is really not normal. There is a sense of uncertainty that borders on paranoid behaviour in some cases. At this very moment, Mexican TV is showing how military forces are giving masks to the people in the streets. Moreover the news is sending alarming messages for the audience. Really, the atmosphere in the city is unsettling, a good example: pubs and concerts are being closed or cancelled and people don't haven thorough information. In this city (and country) there is an urgent need for assertive information, no paranoid messages from the government or the Mexican media. Patricio Barrientos and Aranzazu Nuñez, Mexico City
Massive events have been cancelled at the National Auditorium - Mexico City's largest indoor venue with capacity of 10,000 - which has been closed. Two soccer games have been cancelled at the Olympic Stadium. A sold out game with 70,000 expected attendance will be played behind closed doors. Another game at the famous Azteca Stadium that would draw an attendance of 50,000 will also be played behind closed doors. Juan Carlos Leon Calderon, Mexico City
It's eerily quiet here in the capital. Lots of people with masks, Facebook communities exchanging gallows humour, everybody waiting to see if schools and universities will stay closed for ten days (as goes the rumour). All masks have been used up, and we are waiting for new supplies. Dr Duncan Wood, Mexico City
“ We will be sick soon and, well, do the math - 400 can infect at least another two per day ”
Adriana, Mexico City
Yesterday in my office it was a bit surreal walking in to see all in blue masks with deep cleansing of computer equipment and surfaces going on. Let's hope it is contained and does not escalate. The local news is reporting 200 fatalities and reports of flu spreading from areas outside of Mexico City. Given the volume of daily commuter traffic on cramped busses and trains, this may not have to be too virulent to be disastrous in human terms. I wonder what controls there will be on flights in and out. Will Shea, Mexico City
I work for the government as a head of a computer infrastructure operations department. At work we are doing several actions to try not to expose workers. We sent several home. I support the Pumas football team and the very important match with the Guadalajara team will be played behind closed doors. My family and I are going to stay home all weekend. We feel a little scared and confused with the feeling that we are not given being told the truth. Many people think the numbers of dead people is higher than we are being told. Marcos, Mexico City
The whole city is affected, I have a very bad feeling about this. Two of my friends at work are sick, they were sick for a couple of days, they went to the hospital and they sent them back to work. The doctor told them it was just a flu until Friday when the alarm was spread, then they were allowed to go home. I work in a call centre and I'm worried because there are no windows in the building so it cannot be ventilated and around 400 people work there.
We all have talked to our supervisor but no one has done anything not even sterilise or disinfect the area. We will be sick soon and, well, do the math - 400 can infect at least another two per day. The authorities say there's nothing they can do since it's a private company and I can assure you, the company I work for is not the only one like this in the whole city. Us workers don't have much protection from our government and if we want to keep our jobs we have to go anyway. Adriana, Mexico City
My sister got influenza like symptoms two weeks ago. She is fine now, thank god, but similar cases have been showing up since two weeks ago. I work for a bank and we were told to take our laptops because there is a high possibility to work from home. I have gone out to buy some face masks. Ruben Farfan, Mexico City
I'm a college student in Mexico City, and I can only say that the information that the media has provided doesn't seem to be enough, we do not now how serious it is because they have failed to mention it. There have been two ways of responding to this event, the ones that have entered themselves into quarantine claiming that the government is hiding something much more serious, and those who take this as a joke saying that everyone is overreacting. To put a cherry on top all kind of crazy rumours are flying around - that they are going to quarantine Mexico City, that a school and some specific branches of offices and jobs are going to be suspended for days to come, and so on. I wish more info was available, for example how to prevent it? Have there been many deaths? Is there a threat of an epidemic? Mari A, Mexico City
I didn't hear about the flu epidemic until last night at 2330. Yesterday the streets were almost empty compared to a normal Friday afternoon. The media is bombarding the same information over and over again, but the authorities haven't said anything new yet, only that they have enough vaccines for those with the flu and that we should avoid public spaces. Paulina, Mexico City
This is another blow to the tourism industry in Mexico, even though non of the events that is taken place is anywhere near the tourist areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta, the news comes across as all of Mexico is affected! After wrong reports of drug related violence, military presence etc. in Cancun, which hurt the industry tremendously, now people think that all of Mexico is affected by a virus that is mostly present in the capital. I guess the problem is that this is a country where the capital carries the same name as the country, thus when people hear news about Mexico, albeit it refers to Mexico City, they assume it is affecting the whole country. Rainer, Cancun
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/26 18:47:44 GMT
© BBC MMIX
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Situation Update No. 1
On 25.04.2009 at 03:39 GMT+2
The Health Department is monitoring an outbreak of flu at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, Queens to see if the students may have come down with the swine flu virus. As many as 300 students have reported they were suffering from flu-like symptoms. Some of the students told PIX News they recently visited Mexico. The flu outbreak forced school officials to cancel an event called "International Night," which was scheduled for Friday night. A thousand people has been expecting to attend. There are reports that initial tests on some of the students have come back negative for swine flu and that they may be suffering from a regular strain of the virus unrelated to the those cases from Mexico. A form of swine flu is suspected of killing as many as 60 people in Mexico and sickened more than a thousand others. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed eight people in the United States have contracted swine flu and will be keeping the American people updated. President Barack Obama is also being updated on the outbreak.
Q+A - Mexico hit by deadly new flu virus
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A dangerous strain of flu never seen before has killed up to 60 people in Mexico and spread into the United States, where several people were reported ill.
Here are some questions and answers about the virus:
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?
Mexico has confirmed 20 deaths from the flu and has 40 other possible fatalities and 1,004 people reported infected. Most of those who died are aged between 25 and 45.
In California and Texas, eight people were infected with the new strain, but all of them have recovered.
WHAT KIND OF FLU IS IT AND HOW IS IT SPREADING?
The virus is an influenza A virus, carrying the designation H1N1 and is spreading from person to person. It contains DNA from avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
The virus is being passed on by sneezing, coughing or physical contact. Though a link to swine flu was originally suspected, the Mexican government has now ruled out any risk of infection from eating pork.
HOW SERIOUS IS IT? Continued...
The CDC says it is too early to fully assess the threat posed by the new flu virus.
The Mexican government said on Friday the rate of deaths has slowed in recent hours and that it has a million doses of antiviral drugs, which is more than enough to treat all reported cases.
Central American countries were not reporting any cases of the new flu for the time being.
HAS MEXICO EVER SEEN AN OUTBREAK LIKE THIS BEFORE?
Mexico has not suffered a serious flu epidemic before.
Many Mexicans vaccinate themselves against common flu, which hits each year in a season that normally ends in February or March. Worldwide, seasonal flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people in an average year.
WHAT MEASURES IS THE MEXICAN GOVERNMENT TAKING?
Mexico City has closed universities and schools until further notice, suspended all major public events and advised people feeling flu-like symptoms to stay home from work.
Mexico City's busiest subway stations are handing out face masks to passengers to use on crowded train carriages. The city government has closed museums, including the popular Anthropology Museum.
Authorities recommend people avoid crowded places and have cautioned people not to shake hands or kiss when greeting or to share food, glasses or cutlery.
The government has also extended the deadline on filing tax returns by a month to the end of May.
WHAT IS THE REST OF THE WORLD DOING TO HELP?
The U.S. government said it was taking the situation seriously and monitoring for any new developments.
The CDC said it is working on a vaccine.
Geneva-based U.N. agency the World Health Organisation said it was in close contact with U.S., Canadian and Mexican authorities and had activated its Strategic Health Operations Centre -- its command and control centre for acute public health events.
The WHO says it is ready to use rapid containment measures if needed, including antivirals, and said Mexico is well-equipped to handle the outbreak.
SHOULD TOURISTS WITH TRIPS PLANNED TO MEXICO BE WORRIED?
The CDC and the WHO say there is no need to alter travel plans and Mexico said it saw no need to close its borders. Continued...
Canada's government has advised doctors to be on the alert for reports of illness from people who recently travelled to Mexico, but has not recommended cancelling trips.
(Writing by Catherine Bremer; Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Walsh)
When the disease first broke out into mammals in Indonesia, guess what it's "street" name was?
Argh Plop disease.
You can't make this **** up. Why Argh Plop? Because that was the noise the cats made as they fell out of the tree dead.
Influenza can infect anything with lungs. But since each lung, on the biochemical and biological level is unique, unique forms of influenza are required to infect those lungs.
As an example, the temp found in the nasal cavities of some birds is XX. In Dogs it's ZZ. If you take tissue samples from each animal and see if they can get infected by the same bug, the answer could be yes. But only the bird gets infected in real life. Why, because the virus only grew well in the XX temp environment.
There were reports a few years ago of Monkeys being practically wiped out to extinction in Costa Rica a few years ago from a strange disease.... No known cause....
ShareThisBy MARK STEVENSON
Associated Press Writer
Published: Friday, Apr. 24, 2009 - 10:00 am
Last Modified: Friday, Apr. 24, 2009 - 12:50 pm
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's federal government has closed museums, libraries, and state-run theaters as well as schools in its overcrowded capital to stop a swine flu outbreak authorities say may have killed as many as 60 people.
The government already shut down schools across Mexico City Friday in hopes of containing the outbreak that has sickened more than 900 people. World health officials worry a global flu epidemic could spread from the city of 20 million.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tests show some of the Mexico victims died from the same new strain of swine flu that sickened eight people in Texas and California. It's a frightening new strain that combines genetic material from pigs, birds and humans.
Deadly Flu - an advisory was issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada to health services across Canada
“The vast majority are returning from Mexico relaxed,” she said of Canadian tourists. But she advised travellers to take the usual precautions, such as getting a flu vaccination before heading south and washing hands thoroughly while in Mexico. The affected areas of Mexico were Mexico City, San Luis Potosí, Oaxaca and Baja, Skowronski said. Dr. Arlene King, director general of the Centre for Immunization and Respiratory Infectious Diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said one of the lessons learned from the SARS outbreak in 2003 was the need for effective communications between various agencies and health care providers. Williams also stressed that a stringent record of any illnesses that might match the profile of the respiratory condition should be relayed to the proper authorities. "We'd rather know more than less . . . we want to know all the details," he said. "That's why we're engaging our wider medical community at this time to active surveillance rather than passive surveillance. "For (Mexico), it's early, and we're pleased they moved so quickly to inform their partners of what's going on. . . . That's to be applauded and that probably wouldn't have happened five or seven years ago." According to the federal government, more than 1.2 million Canadians visit Mexico each year. )
Friday, April 24, 2009
Testing YouTube's Audio Content ID System
Commentary by Fred von Lohmann
An enterprising YouTube user has completed a fascinating set of tests to figure out how sensitive the audio fingerprinting tools are in YouTube's Content ID system. (This is the system being used by Warner Music Group to do wholesale censorship of music, including clear fair uses, on YouTube.) After uploading 82 videos that include altered versions of The Waitresses' hit, "I Know What Boys Like," the experimenter comes up with a number of interesting conclusions:
It's everywhere: It scans every single newly-uploaded video, no matter if it has a title/description that seems suspicious. It generally finds them mere minutes after the upload completes. And videos uploaded before the system was installed aren't immune either. It looks like it's going through every single video that has ever been uploaded to the site, looking for copyright problems. It sounds ludicrous, but remember that YouTube is backed by Google, and Google has plenty of hardware to throw around. I have no doubt that they'll eventually trudge through every single video, if they haven't already finished. I wonder how much CPU time (and electricity) they squandered on this?
It's surprisingly resilient: I really thought it would fail some of the amplification tests. Especially the +/-48 dB tests. One was so inaudibly quiet, and the other was so distorted it was completely unlistenable. It found all of them. Likewise, it could detect the sound amidst constant background noise, until the noise level passed the 45% mark. With that much noise, it overpowers the song you're trying to hide. Likewise, it catches all subtle changes in pitch and tempo, requiring changes of up to 5% before it consistently fails to identify material.
It's rather finicky: I can't explain why it was able to detect the camcorder-recorded audio at 5' and 31', but not at 12'. Similarly, the vocal removal/isolation tests should've had similar results. But then again, the effectiveness of the Stereo Imagery tests depends entirely on how the song itself was engineered -- Just because it turned out one way for this song, that doesn't mean it will react the same way to the other songs with that same modification.
It's downright dumb: Wrap your heads around this. When I muted the beginning of the song up until 0:30 (leaving the rest to play) the fingerprinter missed it. When I kept the beginning up until 0:30 and muted everything from 0:30 to the end, the fingerprinter caught it. That indicates that the content database only knows about something in the first 30 seconds of the song. As long as you cut that part off, you can theoretically use the remainder of the song without being detected. I don't know if all samples in the content database suffer from similar weaknesses, but it's something that merits further research.
It seems to hear in mono: When I uploaded the files with out-of-phase audio, the tests consistently passed. When the first out-of-phase test is played back in mono, the resulting audio sounds exactly like the Vocal Remove test (which also passed). When the mono-converted/out-of-phase test is played back in mono, both the channels cancel each other out and the result is (theoretically) silence. This is what the fingerprinter hears, and what it bases its conclusions on.
April 23, 2009
Michael Savage Takedown Letter Might Violate 512(f)--Brave New Media v. Weiner
By Eric Goldman
Brave New Films 501(C)(4) v. Weiner, 2009 WL 1011712 (N.D. Cal. April 15, 2009). The Justia page.
In October 2007, radio personality Michael Savage (aka Weiner--hence the case caption) went on an anti-Muslim tirade on his radio show. This has become the source of at least 2 lawsuits.
The first lawsuit was brought by Savage against the Council for American-Islamic Relations, which posted 4 minutes of excerpts to its website as part of critical remarks about Savage. I previously mentioned that lawsuit here. In July 2008, the judge tossed Savage's lawsuit based on CAIR's fair use defense.
This ruling relates to a different critical video. Brave New Films created an 83 second video entitled "Michael Savage Hates Muslims," which included about 1 minute of audio from Savage's tirade (all of which had been in CAIR's post), some additional critical commentary and a promotion for the related site nosavage.com. In January 2008, BNF posted the video to YouTube. In September 2008, Savage's syndicator, Original Talk Radio Network, sent a "driftnet" takedown letter to YouTube covering 259 videos on YouTube, including BNF's "Michael Savage Hates Muslim" video. YouTube disabled both the video and BNF's YouTube channel. BNF filed a 512(g) counternotification and initiated a lawsuit against Savage and OTRN, seeking a declaratory judgment and alleging a 17 USC 512(f) violation that the takedown letter misrepresented the infringing nature of the video. This ruling deals with Savage's motion to dismiss the 512(f) claim.
Savage first argued that OTRN, not him, sent the letter, so he should not be liable for any misrepresentations in the letter. In fact, Savage has at least some copyright registrations to his show (including the episode containing his tirade) in his name only, so it is unclear what, if any, copyright interests OTRN could be asserting on its own behalf. However, the letter contained (consistent with 512(c)(3) notices generally) a declaration under penalty of perjury that OTRN was acting on behalf of the copyright owner. Indeed, by definition, every proper 512(c)(3) takedown notice creates apparent authority between the sender and the copyright owner (if they are different). This creates a possible conundrum. If OTRN was, in fact, a rogue independent contractor of Savage, it's a little unfair to Savage to hold him accountable for rogue acts. On the other hand, the court can allocate the financial responsibility between the principal and rogue agent.
Savage's second argument is that the takedown letter was not a 512(c)(3) notice and therefore did not satisfy 512(f)'s statutory requirements. For an analogous case (not cited), see the Dudnikov case. The court rejects the argument, saying that this takedown letter was substantially equivalent to a 512(c)(3) notice and therefore governed by 512(f).
Finally, Savage argued that the takedown letter was protected by statutory pre-litigation privileges. The court rejects this too, saying that the statutory privileges don't apply.
As a result, Savage remains potentially on the hook for a 512(f) violation. It will be interesting to see what the court does with the Lenz case, which seems relevant. If CAIR's use of the material had already been legally adjudicated as a fair use before OTRN sent the driftnet takedown letter for a clip containing a small fraction of the same material, there could be a good argument that OTRN did not adequately consider the fair use defense as required by Lenz.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
First, let's sort out the parties, the works, and the causes of action, because it's a bit complicated. The plaintiffs are Henley and Mike Campbell, a songwriter and guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. According to the complaint, Henley and Campbell wrote the musical composition for "The Boys of Summer" and jointly own the copyright. They are both suing DeVore and his campaign's Director of New Media and Internet Strategies, Justin Hart, for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement over the use of the "The Boys of Summer" in what DeVore has termed a "parody" that substitutes a new set of lyrics attacking Boxer for the original. In addition, Henley (but not Campbell) asserts claims for false association or endorsement under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, and a similar claim under California Business & Professions Code section 17200.
As for "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," neither Henley nor Campbell claims to own the copyright. (The composition was written by Danny Kortchmar.) The only claims on "All She Wants" are by Henley under the Lanham Act and 17200, on the theory that DeVore's video falsely implies that Henley -- a well-known liberal activist -- endorses the conservative Republican's campaign against Boxer. (I count at least $9,000 in contributions by Henley to Boxer's campaigns over the past decade.)
One interesting bit of legal history (I think): according to the complaint, Henley sent a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube on the "The Boys of Summer" video on April 3, and DeVore responded with a counternotice April 7. This lawsuit was filed April 17 -- 8 business days after the counternotice. As far as I am aware, this is the very first time a copyright owner has filed a lawsuit based on a YouTube video within the DMCA's 10-14 day window during which the content owner may inform the host that he has initiated an action, signaling that it should not re-post the material (if it wants to maintain its safe harbor). If anyone knows of an earlier example, please let me know in the comments.
Henley and Campbell are represented by a team at Morrison & Foerster that includes Stanford Law School professor Paul Goldstein, who is Of Counsel to MoFo. The case has been assigned to Judge James Selna, who sits in Santa Ana.
UPDATE: I have learned that DeVore and Hart will be represented by Chris Arledge of Turner Green Afrsiabi & Arledge LLP. This case is turning into a mini O'Melveny & Myers reunion. Judge Selna is a former OMM attorney, as is Arledge (and I). And OMM previously represented Henley and the Eagles in a lawsuit (since dismissed) brought by former Eagles member Don Felder. (For the record, I do not believe the relevant statute requires Judge Selna's recusal.)
(h/t THR, Esq. and Courthouse News Service.)