Wednesday, July 27, 2005

July 27 Flu Update

AP is reporting that Indonesia has found a link between birds and the three cases in their country. The link was not with the birds directly, but with their feces. Of course, this feeds the desire to show no human-human transmission. Exect others to weigh in on this.

And they do....Effect Measure refers to it as the chickenshit theory.

Note--the officials do say they don't know if the victims were infected by the feces, and note confounding data as well about why farmers aren't getting sick.

ProMed weighs in. Note the mod comment that the infected people live in an upper class neighborhood.

Effect Measure on dwindling confidence in Indonesian reports.

A lab is closing in China due to Chinese flu restrictions.

Recombinomics looks at the closed lab, and wonders what it might be hiding (keyword: raging epidemic.)

Here's something I never thought of before. Question 1: What do you need to make flu vaccines. Answer: chicken eggs. Question 2: Who dies by the tens of thousands from bird flu. Answer: Chickens. See the problem.

Here's another story on Russia saying the flu in Siberia is not threatening to humans.

Forbes says Japan is finding more sick birds.

WHO is urging Indonesia to fight bird flu better.

The BBC reports this from the NIH. Newly published research shows that the flu virus mutates faster than anyone ever thought, complicating vaccine efforts.

Scientists previously believed that gene swapping progressed gradually from season to season.

The National Institutes of Health team found instead, influenza A exchanged several genes at once, causing sudden and major changes to the virus.

The findings in PLOS Biology suggest strains could vary widely each season, making it potentially harder to treat.

CIDRAP writes on this as well.

Bandladesh is banning poultry imports from five countries.

CBC reports they are ready for the flu in Northern Canada.

Forbes has an often repeated story--did the 1918 flu begin earlier than previously thought.

Recombinomics on the very high fatality rate in China from the "mystery disease."

Although some boxun reports have suggested Ebola, the proximity of Sichuan Province next to Qinghai Province suggests H5N1 may be responsible. All of the H5N1 isolates from Qinghai Lake have the PB2 polymorphism, E627K, which has never been previously described in H5N1 isolated from birds. Passage of isolates from Hong Kong or imported duck meat through a mouse brain yield an isolate with E627K, and such isolates were found in tigers that died at a zoo in Thailand had neurological symptoms, which may be related to the meningitis seen in patients in Sichuan.

Thus, the sudden increase of 37 patients reported above, the widespread distribution of cases in at least 75 villages, the high case fatality rate, and the neurotropism, all point toward H5N1 involvement in the expanding outbreak.

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