Supercourse Newsletter, October 30, 2005
Halloween Edition of the Supercourse... don?t be afraid!!
Q: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A: Because he didn't have any guts.
Our work to use epidemiology and Internet technologies to help
the kids in Pakistan is working. Drs. Khawar Kazmi and and Ali
Ardalan have joined Soni Dodani. Ali and others have generated 4
outstanding, state of the art lectures on Earthquakes. We will
be distributing his lecture titled ?Earthquake in Pakistan, Oct.
8, 2005?. It is a wonderful lecture that presents the best pos-
sible information concerning the science of disasters, and how
this relates to the horrible earthquake in Pakistan. The kids
are still scared, as Khawar indicated as they still are feeling
the rumblings of earthquakes through out Pakistan. As seen on
Pakistani TV, floors of school buildings crashed killing dozens
of kids. They also saw kids their own age dying or horribly
maimed being pulled from building. This has lead to a fear, and
a perceived risk that if they go to school, they will die.
We want children to understand that earthquakes are acts of na-
ture, and there are seismologic reasons why they occur. In addi-
tion, we as epidemiologists want to present risk estimates so
people realize that earthquakes, even a massive one as in Paki-
stan, are rare events. For example, Khawar showed that in the
past 10 years about 1,500,000 people died of heart attacks,
where as 40,000 died in the earthquake. Earthquakes are sudden,
deadly, and in the news. However, the actually mortality risk
over a 10 year period is less than 3% that of CHD, yet Paki-
stanis, and people world wide fear dying of an earthquake much
more than dying of a heart attack. Moreover, kids are afraid to
go to school. We want to help them understand the science of
what happened, and help them to understand their fears so that
they do not become emotionally ?stunted? about school and about
Khawar is now working the teacher?s networks so that we can be-
gin to push the lectures forward. We have virtually no resources
so we will target the schools have are connected to the Inter-
net, which is likely around 10-20% of the 54,000,000 children
which represents 5-10 million children. Khawar just reported
that he has talked with some of the teachers groups and they are
quite excited about the project. We are soon starting our dis-
tribution system and will keep you posted.
Lecture of the week:
Influenza: An Impending Pandemic
Whether you are located in the US, UK, Russia or rural China,
the fear of avian flu is creeping up from your TV screen, Inter-
net, radio, or word of mouth. We see dead chickens in garbage
bags in Asia, and Turkey. Avian flu is really hot. What is avian
flu? Is it as dangerous as it sounds? Rachid Chotani from Johns
Hopkins university is aiming to give us the answer in his Just
in Time lecture "Influenza: An Impending Pandemic" accessible at
ingly, despite having 10 events with influenza pandemic poten-
tial in the past few decades, we were fortunate not to experi-
ence full blown flu pandemic in the past 35 years! We have addi-
tional JIT lectures on this topic: "Avian Influenza Zoonosis"
http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec13521/index.htm and "Bird
Flu" http://www.pitt.edu/~super1/lecture/lec13421/index.htm We
have several other excellent lectures just on influenza itself.
Please visit the Supercourse website for more information.
Faina Linkov reporting.
Q: Why did the vampire need mouthwash?
A: She had bat breath.
This is the peak of Autumn, and this year is exceptionally beau-
tiful. Despite nature coming at us with Katrina, Rita, and
earthquakes, fall is so beautiful in Western Pennsylvania, you
should come and visit. The leaves practically glow - yellow,
green, and orange. The squirrels (and of course the turkeys) are
fat as pigs. Walking outside is fantastic as it is just above
freezing and you can smell the wood fires, especially this year
as the price per liter of gas is about the same as a one caret
diamond. It is a most beautiful time of year, but a little sad
as we enter into the cold of winter.
Q: Why don't monsters eat clowns?
A: Because they taste funny.
Have a Happy Halloween! Best regards from your friends in Pitts-
burgh and world wide.
Ron, Faina, Mita, Soni, Eugene, Dracula, Ali, Arlene, Saida,
Anna, Frankenstein, Tom, Francois, Khawar, Nat, Julia