Saturday, July 23, 2005

July 23 Flu Update--What's going on in China?

The big story today might be a story....or it might not.

You are no doubt aware of boxun.com, a website/message board community which has posted a great deal of information on the bird flu in Qinghai province. They told of thousands of dead birds, human cases, arrests of people for talking about bird flu, etc. How reliable are they? This is a province with a high percentage of ethnic Tibet, so are they just making trouble for the government? The dead birds were more or less confirmed, the human cases have not...in fact, WHO looked into them and says they did not happen.

So, for what it is worth, the latest from Boxun is grim.

Epidemi.ca has an outstanding post on this. I'm excerpting just the part that concerns current activities, but the entire article is a must-read.

The past few days, postings on boxun.com go a lot further. On July 15, a possible connection between H5N1 and Chinese bioweapons research is mentioned. On July 18, there are, again very detailed, descriptions of an ebola outbreak in two provinces in southern China. The past two days bring reports of troop movements near Qinghai, of areas being quarantined, people being taken away and fights breaking out between farmers and doctors, and ultimately the military.

For now, all boxun.com reports remain unconfirmed, except for the bird deaths at Qinghai Lake. And there is still a chance that these are a bunch of people who want to discredit their government. We do not even know if the postings are written by the same sources. But the wealth of specifics and details makes it harder to dismiss them offhand. What seems clear, even without boxun.com, is that H5N1 is widespread in China, probably more so than in any other country. Add that to the fact that about 60 people have already died from bird flu in other Asian countries, while China claims no human infections whatsoever, and we can not help wondering.

Recombinomics has written on this as well. Here, he posts machine translations of chilling (if true) posts from boxum on Chinese military activity.

Excerpts

"Hey, are we going to war? Something's not right. I can see many armoured vehicles and soldiers with guns on the road. I can ever hear planes in the air. Rumor has it that they're from Yushu (i believe that this's a location, but i'm not sure which) Can someone please clarify what's happening?"

"They're over here too. I can see hundreds of troops, many of whom are in full battle order. I'm from Yushu"

"I'm from Chengdu. Are you from the region where the bird flu was found?"

"I'm seeing the same thing here too, in LaSuTung (translation, i think it's a mongolian city). I've never seen so many planes in my entire life."

"It must be related to the bird flu."

"I thought "it" (the bird flu) was from the Qinghai region? It's here now? That's really fast."

"We'd better keep a low profile. My parents are asking me not to venture out. I can see troops in full battle order grabbing people. But I'm not sure why so."

"You're right, I can see troops and planes too."

"Hey, I can see troops in "white suits" and planes flying at low altitudes. If you can see them too, can you please acknowledge?"

"I see people being snatched out of their houses"

"The troops are finally here. They're walking through the village (or town), checking the houses. I should be fine since I don't breed any birds."
This second Recombinomics post contains some additional information that indicates more unconfirmed reports of quarantines enforced on the ground.

I hesitate on passing along this information in this manner. I did it because you should be able to decide for yourselves what it means.

In other news....

Newsweek says people in Indonesia are not worried about the bird flu.

In Russia, they say the bird flu found in Siberia is not dangerous to humans.

The Calcutta Telegraph on the rising fears from new information on bird flu.

In case you were worried, Nicaragua is bird flu free.

Malaysia says its bird flu free as well....where have we heard that before?

Hygiene efforts in Thailand are underway to fight the flu.

Indonesia and China are going to cooperate on fighting the bird flu. They will work together by sharing experts and bird vaccine production.

In Australia, they are putting money toward a local vaccine.

This story says the Australian vaccine is on the fast track.

In Wisconsin, they have a bill that would let retired Doctors practice again in a flu pandemic.

You will recall the Trust for American Health report that made news due to its modest but awful death toll projection and its criticism of US preperation. Here, they commend US for a recent tamiflu order.

Recombinomics has other boxun.com data, including an unconfirmed report about bird flu in Chengdu in Sichuan.

Recombinomics also has boxun news of 300 dead birds in Guangzhou Guangdong

CIDRAP has further information on the Siberia reports.

Effect Measures comments on the US pandemic plans, which are finally coming together. He notes that the plan calls for high government officials to get rationed Tamiflu.

Effect Measure comments on the rapid change in the Indonesian situation.

ProMed on Siberia.

Finally, I feel a little remiss in not doing this earlier, but here is some data on Qinghai.

Qinghai Lake (qīnghăi hú) is another great trip, albeit further from Xining than Kumbum. The lake is the largest saltwater lake in China, and is also located on the "Roof of the World," the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The lake itself lies at 3,600m elevation. The surrounding area is made up of beautiful rolling grasslands and filled with Ethnic Tibetans, making for an authentic experience. Most pre-arranged tours will stop at Bird Island (niăo dăo), but check to make sure if admission is included in any tour package. A Tour from Xining, around the entire lake, and back with stops for lunch, shopping, and sightseeing can easily run 12 hours (more for Bird Island), so it may be wise to allot an entire day for this side trip.

3 Comments:

At 10:47 AM, Blogger jerseycityjoan said...

I am glad you shared the Boxun.com stories. I didn't quite know what to make of their animal and human flu death stories before; I sure don't know what to make of this newest bunch, which are even more startling and grim.

My #1 question is: why hasn't the Chinese government blocked the boxun.com website? Why are they allowing such awful things to be said, whether true or false? That's not their philosophy.

It's all very strange and disturbing.

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The flu epidemic was so stronmg as it occurred at teh tail end of world war one. Indeed all the calims about how it was caused fall upon world war one. Whether it was caused by the weakening of populations of world war one, and movement of doctors to fight on the front, or cure there. Plus by the weakening of the population as of the massive social chanmges caused by enrollment, THere are soem claims, it was actualloy started among the unnaturally crowded movements of world war one trenches, of people lieing in teh mud, weaked, edn and wounded, helping disease thrive. Then mass troop movements totally unchecked at times helped it's spread and the fact thatit spread during world war one, The state of war caused little international co-operation, and also saw the disease able to become rampant in areas, and from this a disease spawned which was sent right round the world. Infecting most terribly the poorest and most poverty stricken areas.

 
At 11:40 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Joan, as always, thanks for checking in. That is, indeed a good question. If this site is reporting what is going on, why is it still operating? I don't know the answer to that. Time will tell if these posts are accurate.

And anonymous, there is no doubt that the conditions following WWI helped to spread the so-called Spanish Flu. One of the things that interests me so much about the flu is that it is so contagious and lethal that it literally finds our weakest points...elderly, young people...in some cases, it even turns a strong immune system into a weakness.

I'd recommend the writings of Dr. Osterholm (search for "We're screwed") for a nice synopsis of why our current life is just as well suited for a flu crisis.

 

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