Sunday, July 03, 2005

July 3 Flu Update

A bird club in the Phillipines is working to spread the word on bird flu, making them now more active in the fight than the US Government.

Vietnam take on the WHO announcement that they are still on high alert.

Outstanding Baltimore Sun article (must read) on the situation in China, a lack of transparency, and what effects that has.

A transparent flow of information is thus essential, critics say. Yet Beijing continues to delay providing information and access that, considering the fast pace at which viruses can move and mutate, could be essential to the WHO's efforts to combat the H5N1 virus.

After making the U.N. health organization wait for weeks to get permission to visit the region hardest hit by the bird flu, the agency continues to wait for permission to visit the neighboring region of Xinjiang in the remote northwest, where migratory birds have also died of avian flu.

For some time now, according to the WHO, Chinese government experts have isolated genetic sequences of the H5N1 flu strains that are killing the birds in western China, but the government has yet to make the information or samples of the virus publicly available.

The doctor-diplomats of the United Nations organization are constrained by diplomatic protocol and by politics, and critics say China has put considerable political pressure on WHO officials not to embarrass their Beijing hosts.

The result is that the health experts the United Nations relies on to lead the fight against avian flu must wait in Beijing for weeks, time could be used to help China track the virus. Beijing was first aware of deaths likely caused by the avian flu as early as the first week of May, but the WHO was allowed to visit the region only last week.


Malta preperations for bird flu.

Malaysia is hosting a bird flu conference to start tomorrow (through Epidemi.ca)

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