Communion Of Dreams

Welcome to our old friend, the Plague, version 2.0

In this post from last week, I talked about the relevant issues confronting us with pandemic threats such as the bubonic plague. Well, as you may have heard over the last day or so, public health authorities have acted to impose quarantine restrictions on a man with a drug-resistant form of TB. He’s now being treated with antibiotics as the authorities try and back-track his recent trip to Europe and see who he may have exposed to this particularly nasty strain of the disease.

In my early thinking about the ‘fire-flu’ which forms the back-story of Communion, I was intending on it being a strain of influenza which had developed resistance to early anti-viral treatments. I thought I’d have a series of serious but not pandemic flu strains weaken the global economy, and then have a really nasty one hit that was drug resistant. But so few people understand about the problems presented by widespread and inappropriate antibiotic use, that I gave on on that mechanism, figuring that it would just take too much explanation. Going with the ‘weaponized’ form of flu gave me some additional plot devices to work with, as becomes clear when you read the book.

But that doesn’t mean that the threat isn’t real. In fact, the reaction of the public health authorities is telling, I think. They know that having a nasty, drug-resistant form of TB widely spread by someone this way is a very serious threat, and could easily present a huge problem, and turn back the public-health clock 100 years.


Jim Downey

2 Comments so far
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While the medical response to pandemic flu will be important to controlling its spread and limiting its toll, there are considerable non-medical issues related to flu preparedness that are essential for ensuring the continued well-being of the nation’s economy. Planning for Continuity of Operations (COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) is critical to maintaining the overall viability of society. Thus, while we rightly prepare for the flu, we must be equally prepared to function during the flu.

The Center for Technology and National Security Policy of the DOD’s National Defense University has prepared a number of freely-available items which can help civilians be prepared both before and during the flu. “Bird Flu and You” is a poster available in 9 languages with basic information about influenza preparedness. “Weathering the Storm” is a report with information about planning for COOP, including instructions for carrying out “tabletop excercises” with a COOP plan.

Electronic copies of the poster are available at Electronic copies of the report are available at, and to request hard copies of the
report, contact the Life Sciences group at

Robert E. Armstrong, Ph.D.
Mark D. Drapeau, Ph.D.

Center for Technology and National Security Policy
National Defense University
Washington, DC

This is the view of the authors and does not represent the official view of National Defense University, the U.S. Dept. of Defense, or the U.S government.

Comment by Mark D. Drapeau, Ph.D.

Dr. Drapeau,

While your comment is likely a generic one, posted anywhere someone blogs on this subject, I am happy to allow it. If your information helps just one family, that’s worth it.

Thank you for your efforts in this area.

Jim Downey

Comment by Communion of Dreams

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