Thursday, July 07, 2005

July 7 Flu Update

More on the Asian plan. Focus is to be on small scale farms where 80 percent of flu is said to begin. This does strike at the grassroots cultural nature of the problem, and will be very difficult. Wet markets will also be a focus.

Flu efforts stepped up in Hong Kong...

And in Vietnam, the same thing is going on.

In a longer term, the country will raise poultry according to three modes, namely industrial scale, semi-industrial scale and household scale with a focus on the semi-industrial scale. Sixteen cities and provinces nationwide, including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, must complete construction of concentrated slaughterhouses before 2007, while poultry must be transported by specialized vehicles, Anh said.

Bird Flu has reportedly been "ruled out" in a death in Cambodia.

Washington Post writes on the dire shortages of medication in flu stricken nations.

The Scientist (UK) reports a leading virologist is being stymied in his attempts to study the flu in China. Read on:

"God help me," Guan said, sounding exasperated, "they are trying to close everyone's lab." He said he believes the new rules are an excuse for authorities to exert tighter control over the dissemination of lab results, and are not aimed at protecting the wider population from bird flu outbreaks that have dotted the country in recent months.

He said the regulations will mean that the Animal Influenza Laboratory of Ministry of Agriculture in Harbin will become the primary lab sanctioned to carry out diagnostics on avian flu.

Effect Measure weighs in on new Chinese restrictions.

The Christian Science Monitor has this article exploring the fine line between warnings and false alarms...noting examples back to swine flu. I note what I view is the highly optimistic view of one man, who says people will react well if they have all the information.

CIDRAP on news from Nature and Science on the results of investigations in China.

The recent outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza among wild waterfowl in western China could provide a launching pad to spread the disease throughout Asia and beyond, according to two reports published by leading science journals today.

Thousands of birds have died in the past 2 months at Qinghai Lake, a wildlife refuge that is an important gathering site for many species of waterfowl. World Health Organization officials have described the outbreak as the first one to kill large numbers of migratory birds.

Two teams of scientists who studied the outbreak report some early findings today in online editions of Nature and Science. Both see a danger that the disease, confined mainly to Southeast Asia and East Asia so far, could vastly expand its range.

"There is a danger that it [the H5N1 virus] might be carried along the birds' winter migration routes to densely populated areas in the south Asian subcontinent, a region that seems free of this virus, and spread along migratory flyways linked to Europe," says a report by H. Chen and colleagues in Nature. "This would vastly expand the geographic distribution of H5N1."

In Science, a large team of Chinese authors under the leadership of George F. Gao of Beijing writes, "The occurrence of highly pathogenic H5N1 . . . infection in migratory waterfowl indicates that this virus has the potential to be a global threat: Lake Qinghaihu is a breeding center for migrant birds that congregate from Southeast Asia, Siberia, Australia, and New Zealand."

Recombinomics comments on this development.

ProMed has the story of the migrating geese as well. Their moderator raises this unanswered question.

There are some questions awaiting clarifications in this case, such as the exceptionally high mortality in wild waterbirds of different species. What was their respective susceptibility? Could other factors, additional to H5N1, have played their role?

Recombinomics cites evidence in Nature that the bird flu is more widely spread in China than previously thought.

Again citing Nature, Recombinomics says that the strains in China are amantadine sensitive, contrary to widely circulated media accounts. comments on the WHO plan.


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous SilverLining said...

I have (in my "lay" capacity as a weather blogger) posted a contrast between the optimism and "energy" of the WHO multi-point plan and the events at Qinghai Lake and beyond as shown by a series of Recombinomics posts.

Various commentators have been pointing fingers and saying (already before the pandemic) that it's the "fault" of authorities that no one is "ready" for the coming pandemic. Granted that I am not a virologist or epidemiologist, but I wonder if anyone . . . could . . . prevent the spread of this disease in the wild and domestic bird populations. Human cases could be quarantined. But migratory birds? How...?

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Silver Lining--I checked out your site last night. You make an interesting point. In one sense, I diagree. There are steps that could be taken that could mitigate or eliminate the threat from this pandemic. On the other hand, one of the things that fascinates me about the flu is that it is a force of nature. Its a little bit like trying to prevent a hurricane. Its a powerful and awesome thing IMO, with huge ramifications to human kind. The virus has the ability to find our weaknesses (from crowded trains in 1918 to large-scale poultry farming in 2005.


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