Wednesday, October 19, 2005

October 19 Flu Update

China is reporting large numbers of dead birds--2,600 in the Northern grasslands. Sure to raise ongoing concerns about their openness over the past few weeks.

This Australian news service has the story of the bird flu re-emerging in Russia, China, and elsewhere--note at the end of the story a reference to fear of the disease landing in Africa.

Here's a direct UN story on risk to the Middle East and Africa--note that humans living in close proximity to poultry is the key element.

Britain has announced plans to buy enough vaccine to cover every single person in the country--even at two jabs/person.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Health Minister has had to backtrack on a similar suggestion.

In Russia, hundreds of birds were found dead in a region south of Moscow, and preliminary evidence of H5N1 has been reported.

CIDRAP on Russia and China.

Link to an NPR update on bird flu.

The Esteemed Helen Branswell has this from Canada, where the Health Minister has said Canada will donate 10% of its drug stockpile to needy countries--and call on others to do the same.

More Branswell...as scientists look for the carrier of the bird flu in what might be an impossible challenge.

The vast new geographical expansion of the dangerous H5N1 virus has avian influenza experts worried a bird version of the Stealth Bomber may be at play.

And they readily admit that finding the asymptomatic culprit or culprits from among thousands of species of birds may be a herculean challenge.

"If this is a . . . virus that seems to have fixed itself in some species and we don't know which species it is -- but maybe it's not showing any clinical sign in this particular species -- how do we find this guy?" Michael Perdue, avian influenza expert with the World Health Organization, asks with evident anxiety in his voice.

The realization that some mystery migratory birds are spreading the Asian virus suggests future unwanted appearances in Europe cannot be ruled out.


San Jose Mercury News with a summary story.

Bloomberg on Russia, and a second site in Romania.

EU reaction to the alarming news from Tula, south of Moscow.

A bank in Australia is accusing the government of downplaying the effect of bird flu on the economy.

I get a lot of inquiries about drugs, vaccines, tamiflu, etc, here. The New York Times has a must read today on this topic. Read all the vaccine talk in this blog today, and then read this--emphasis added.

Most of the drugs have never been used to control outbreaks, and it is not even clear how well they would work against the dreaded H5N1 virus if it should jump from birds to humans. It is also unclear whether a vaccine currently under production would have any effect against an emergent pandemic strain, even its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, admits.
There is huge uncertainty about how best to prepare for such a pandemic, and fundamental questions remain unanswered. If, for example, governments were to treat 20 percent to 40 percent of their populations with antiviral medicines - the strategy outlined by many European countries - the virus could quickly become resistant to available drugs, making it even more dangerous.


The Swiss Interior Minister has decried bird flu hysteria.

A new contingency plan from the British government reportedly says that a pandemic would hit Britain one month and overwhelm the NHS.

The Fort Wayne (IN) News Sentinel has an editorial with what might be one of the most elegant phrases on what the current plan is.

The most effective step the world could take is to establish a comprehensive global surveillance system capable of swiftly detecting and reacting to a human outbreak....That will require the pocketbook of rich nations, which can best afford to create a surveillance system, and the cooperation of poor nations, where a bird flu outbreak is most likely to occur.

The BBC says that the Hungarian vaccine shows promise. Here's an interesting quote:

Hungary's health minister Jenö Rácz was among several dozen Hungarians who underwent tests of the trial H5N1 vaccine.

He said: "The results are preliminary but I can say with 99.9% certainty that the vaccine works."

An IPSOS poll says the Spanish the and Italians are most bird-flu worried.

Indian drug companies see a windfall coming.

The paper in Lancaster (PA) talks to poultry farmers in that area who are concerned about bird flu.

CBC analysis piece from Sandra Donaldson--giving tips and advice.

Roche sales projections for upcoming year.

CIDRAP's Michael Osterholm warns people not to over-rely on Tamiflu.

"It's being sold right now as almost the Cipro of post-9/11," said Osterholm, referring to mass purchases of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, after mailed anthrax attacks killed 5 people in the United States in the fall of 2001.

This TV station in Oklahoma City ("Family Television") has noted that the rush is on for Tamiflu.

Branswell is interviewed on bird flu coverage which has passed the tipping point and gone thermonuclear.

Effect Measure has a commentary on reduced public health funds from the Bush Administration.

A new angle from Effect Measure--what about bird flu in jails?

Recombinomics has the Russian and Chinese OIE reports from today.

Recombinomics on bird flu in European Russia.

ProMed on the Russian and Chinese OIE reports.

Crofsblogs has this on an idea in Bulgaria to use ultrasound to divert migratory birds.

Crofsblogs has preperations for bird flu in South Korea...

and Brazil.

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