Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November 30 Flu Update

If you were here yesterday, you saw that WHO was fearing a three-person family cluster in Indonesia, with one fatality. Indonesia today confirmed the fatality as bird flu, and media reports say they are investigating the cluster, though the other families members cannot be tested because they were cremated after they died.

CIDRAP on Indonesia.

This step has the potential to be helpful. International health regulators are going to meet early next year to talk about how they can cooperate to speed the development of a vaccine.

Thailand is about to declare itself bird flu free.

The Medical Research Fund (UK) is planning to put in excess of 10M pounds into a bird flu fund.

China has lifted a quarantine in Hubei Province.

Interesting statement from China. The Health Minister says they national government is not covering anything up, and doesn't think the local governments are...but...

"What I am afraid of is the low level of competency and technical expertise of hospitals, clinics and medical personnel at the grassroots level, who may not detect cases as quick as they should."

Malaysia has a bird flu strategy, outlined below.

A Doctor interviewed in the Canadian Jewish News says that fear and panic about the flu are premature.

WaPo says the US will have 8 million doses of experimental vaccine stockpiled by February. You know the drill--it takes two doses, so that's enough for 4 million people. They are apparently testing a dilution strategy to try and stretch it word about an adjuvant.

From Vietnam, the report is that nearly 200 communes have bird flu outbreaks.

In Vietnam, a minister reminds everyone about the value of good environmental hygiene.

There's a hemisphere-wide meeting going on in Brazil to create a bird flu strategy.

In Oregon, they're keeping an eye out for bird flu, with an idea that its not time to panic yet.

The American Enterprise Institute asks if bird flu is "The One." Its a good article, questions the containment strategy, and talks about the same effects Dr. Osterholm does--disruption of supply chains, etc.

Next is China--the country is negotiating to make its own Tamiflu.

Here's something I haven't seen before. Apparently 20 states have laws against the use of thimerosal, which is a mercury based preservative. These bans are called a "significant" barrier to vaccine production.

Most doctors say thimerosal is safe and studies have shown there is no association between vaccines of any type and neurological diseases such as autism. Experts say the type of mercury used in thimerosal does not affect the body in the same way as mercury found in pollutants. But several groups dispute this and some high-profile books have claimed that mercury is causing an epidemic of neurological disease. They claim that U.S. health officials have covered up evidence of this.

ProMed on the Indonesian case.

ProMed on the story about the ineffectiveness of culling wild birds, and an exact zoological accounting of the sick birds in Romania.

Crofsblog found this poll that says US citizens have diminished confidence in their government to fight a pandemic.

Crofsblog also has this on 9 Chinese arrested for producing fake bird flu vaccine.


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