Governing the Flu: The International Affairs of Influenza

IAS/SIR Speaker Series ft. Dr. Abigail Carlson

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abigail Carlson of Washington University's School of Medicine was this week's guest for our IAS/SIR Speaker Series. Perfectly timed during the peak of the flu season, Dr. Carlson's presentation went beyond the discussion of typical biological aspects of influenza in order to analyze the economic and political concepts that are also tightly intertwined with the disease. Such economic concepts included the estimated $3.3 billion dollars that were lost in response to the rising prices of eggs and mass killings of bird flocks in the agricultural sector as a result of the 2009 swine flu epidemic. Diplomatic and political relations mentioned included the complexity of the international negotiations required to choose, produce, and release yearly influenza vaccines worldwide. Through her presentation, Dr. Carlson clearly established that there is much more to the internationality of influenza than just transnational transmission of the disease.