Wednesday, September 14, 2005

September 14 Flu Update

In China, an expert is warning of a flu pandemic, and he's the same guy who blew the whistle of SARS.

Jakarta is offering free medical treatment to anyone with the flu.

The EU is urging governments to purchase flu medication before the pandemic hits.

There's an herbal brew remedy to the flu in Jakarta.

The BBC has a story which is very good. It talks about the rapid spread of the bird flu if clusters in Asia got large, and how, essentially, nothing could be done about it.

Dr Edmunds said: "This time we would expect it to be spread more quickly than it did last time because we have a lot more flights and there's a lot more contact between people these days.

"If it's spreading widely in south east Asia, then a few weeks is really all we could expect before the pandemic arrived here.

"So there isn't much time."

But he said analysis showed travel restrictions were likely to buy very little time, and be very expensive.

Screening people coming into the UK would be "very ineffective", and likely to pick up few cases because during a flu pandemic, people with symptoms would not be allowed to board a plane anyway, he said.

But many of those who did travel could be incubating flu but not showing any signs, meaning screening, say for high temperatures, on arrival in the UK would not stop cases getting through.

Dr Edmunds said: "There is only one thing that can be done to stop it, and that is to stamp it out at source and if you're lucky you can stop a pandemic developing at the source."

A Helen Branswell story is always welcome---this one is on a recently announced International Flu Conference in Canada.

Good news--the ostrich population in South Africa is bird flu free.

In Thailand, they feel like they are making progress on a flu vaccine.

Recomobinomics writes that the lack of human cases in Indonesia could be a lack of testing.


At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am at a loss to figure out the true threat from an H5N1 pandemic. Yes, we know that it is possible to get a mutation or recombining of this virus but this has always been the case with all strains. So, is this really different from any time in the past? Probably not, it just seems to be a bandwagon effect. Now, I personally decided a while ago to stock enough critical supplies to last 6+ months, that's about all anyone can do. That and monitor news sources for cluster outbreaks. Tell you what, it takes a lot of time and $ to get ready for a disruption, I'm still not done. Like I said, I just wonder how much of the concern is warranted versus the chicken little effect, I'd hate to have done all this prep for nothing.

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

Hey it would be worse to do no prep for something.

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Lisa the GP said...

What is different about this time is:

H5N1 has not infected humans before and so we have no immunity to it, unlike several other flu strains to which we have partial immunity.
H5N1 has already shown some limited ability to infect humans. While other flu viruses in theory could develop this ability, they are not, at the present time, exhibiting this behavior, otherwise we'd be watching them too.

These are the traits which make it a potential pandemic virus. The trait which makes it more alarming than the average pandemic is that this flu in all the species it has infected has been more lethal than any other flu known.

Whenever a virus grows in a new host species, within that individual those viruses that are doing the best relative to their fellows have more progeny. This means every human infection acts as a filter to select for viruses that are adapted to infecting humans more efficiently. So the fact this virus has 'a foot in the door' and occasionally infects humans means that it has evolutionary pressure on it to become more human-adept. If it wasn't infecting humans at all then there'd be no pressure on it to become more human-adept. So the fact that it occasionally infects humans means it is more likely to infect us en masse than other flu viruses that are novel to our species but have not yet developed any capacity to infect us and have 'pro-human' selection put upon them.

At 6:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re 11:39

If you have supplies for a couple of months, maybe it would be a good idea to reach out and strengthen the response capacity in your family or neighbourhood or "community".

There could be a "community preparedness week" emerging in the blogosphere.

One of the ideas that keeps coming up is that we might foster open, typed "conversations" between, say, business owners of different types of business, and flu experts. These conversations might provide "templates" that others might copy in order to get ready better.

Might global conversation build a global immune system?



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