by DemFrom CT
I haven't put up any flu diaries lately, but I haven't been idle. I've been working with the Reveres (editors of the public health blog Effect Measure) and Melanie Mattson (Just a Bump In The Beltway) to put together a flu wiki to act as a respository and also as an experiment in how-to for local communities and those with specific issues. I'm going to steal from Effect Measure:
Many readers of this site know what a wiki is. But probably many more don't. Here is one description, taken from the site that makes the software engine we plan to use (pmwiki):
WikiWikiWeb is an "open-editing" system where the emphasis is on the authoring and collaboration of documents rather than the simple browsing or viewing of them. The name "wiki" is based on the Hawaiian term "wiki wiki", meaning "quick" or "super-fast". The basic concept of a WikiWikiWeb (or "wiki") is that (almost) anyone can edit any page. While at first this sounds like a recipe for complete anarchy, the truth is that sites using this system have developed surprisingly complex and rich communities for online collaboration and communication. Yes, it's possible for someone to go and destroy everything on a page, but it doesn't seem to happen often. And, many systems (including this one) have built-in mechanisms to restore content that has been defaced or destroyed.
The point of the system is to simply make it as quick, easy and rewarding as possible to create or edit online content.
Using any standard Web browser, a person can edit (almost) any page on the system using relatively simple TextFormattingRules. [In fact it's] not even necessary to learn the Text Formatting Rules; others will often come in and reformat things for you. After all, anyone can edit!
Effect Measure continues:
The most famous example of a wiki is the huge free encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Our intention is not to compete with wikipedia, but instead establish a venue for knowledge compilation and generation relevant to epidemic avian influenza. How it will evolve and be configured will be determined by its contributors (you!), but we are hoping eventually to have city, region and country specific sections, entries explaining important elements of biology and drug actions, anticipation of consequences and solutions for them, and many other things beyond our imaginations but within the ken of our collective intelligence.
It seems likely that should a pandemic hit in the next year, we are unprepared (or in the words of Dr. Michael Osterholm, 'we're screwed'.
Since the 2005 flu pandemic is entering the final phase 6, a review of the H5N1 pandemic timeline is useful. H5N1 progressed in Asia from a bird flu in 1996 to a human pandemic in 2005.
And note that because Emergency Department (ED) visits are at an all-time high, yet the numbers of EDs are shrinking, the ability to suck up the extra patient load a pandemic would bring is extremely limited.
Look for an announcement of the Flu Wiki opening for business over the next week or so, even sooner if things go right. There'll be room for everyone's input. In fact, we'll need everyone's input.
This is one case where I'll go on record and say I hope Osterholm and the rest of us are wrong.