Sunday, August 21, 2005

August 21 Flu Update

In Switzerland, they are preparing to educate poultry farmers.

In a related story, poultry farmers are just beginning to dig out in Thailand.

The "hero" of the new flu virus is a man named Robert Webster of St. Jude's.

The Staunton News Leader of Virginia has this op-ed piece on what bird flu could do...and its written by a Doctor.

Here's an op-ed from Jamaica, on bird flu and HIV and all kinds of things.

The New York Times says that public health officials in NY have been meeting since February to plan for the pandemic. This is a must read, with excepts below. I ask my more learned readers this: they are working on the assumption there is no drug answer. They are preparing for that eventuality. Is this the kind of planning everyone should be doing?

If a pandemic similar to the one of 1918 occurred today, as many as 2.8 million New York City residents could be infected within months, sending more than 200,000 to the hospital and clogging the morgues with 400 deaths a day during the peak infection period.

With a vaccine for the strain of influenza referred to as avian flu A(H5N1) many months away from final testing and production, most of New York's planning is being done on the assumption that there will be no vaccine available to prevent illness and only limited drugs to treat patients and help protect essential workers.

Still, it is not clear how effective any drug will be against a mutated strain. Therefore, the response plans will set a framework for dealing with some of the more delicate issues that would have to be addressed in event of pandemic flu, such as when and where to establish quarantines and how to deal with sick people entering the region by airplane. Health officials are also thinking through the risks and benefits of measures like canceling public gatherings, ordering businesses shuttered and closing schools. The challenges are as basic as getting people to cover their mouths when they sneeze and as complex as increasing the capacity of laboratories to do testing.

Additionally, engineers are studying the ventilation systems in many hospitals to see if it is possible to create isolated sections so that an already difficult situation is not made worse by having the entire facility contaminated.

"The real issue is trying to control transmission," Ms. Waltman said.

Many hospitals have recently redesigned their emergency room entrances so that the acutely ill can enter without coming into contact with others in the building, she said.

The Lancet recommendation of Relenza has been good for shareholders of the company that makes it.

Yesterday, we had a report of wild bird flu on a commercial farm in Russia. Recombinomics has his take.

As does ProMed...

This is interesting. ProMed summarizes a journal article that looks at wild fowl, the natural reservoir of bird flu. By looking at the range of virus within the birds, the authors suggest that by studying wild fowl proactively, you might be able to anticipate the range of the virus, and develop vaccine coverage.


At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Plan on there being no drugs available to help. If you don't already have your Tamiflu or Relenza now, you probably won't be able to get it.


At 4:18 PM, Blogger jerseycityjoan said...

The above link is from a 8/18/05 post by New Zealander blogger JM O'Donnell at

The story says "Drug maker Roche has applied to the Medicines Classification Committee to remove the prescription only restriction on the antiviral drug, Tamiflu."

Isn't this strange? As O'Donnell points out, "If we're just going to throw these into an unrestricted environment where people may irresponsibly breed resistance, just like what was experienced with the over prescription of antibiotics, we are just going to be ensuring that more coffins will be required if it does get to the point of a pandemic."

In addition, I wrote in a comment, "Roche has multi-million dose orders that have gone unfilled. Why is Roche trying to open up another distribution channel for a drug that it can't supply?"

Any ideas?

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Melanie, that does seem to be the current thinking among the "realists" such as Dr. Osterholm. There will be no drug solution riding over the hill. As always, thanks for reading and credit you have us recently on the "bump."

Joan, thanks for comment and the link. I hadn't seen that one. It does boggle the mind. Would it be easier to distribute if no Rx was required? No, that would be dumb, right? I don't claim to understand.


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