Saturday, November 05, 2005

November 4 Flu Update

There are major new flu outbreaks in China and Vietnam.

In China, the outbreak is in Liaoning, where 9,000 chickens died and 369,000 were killed.

"370,000 in one outbreak to be destroyed is really, really big. This is not a good signal," said Noureddin Mona, China representative for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation.
In Vietnam, there's also 3,000 dead birds, and a new suspected case in a pregnant woman (24). (Note that if you look back on this blog, Vietnam has been announcing that it has been bird flu free (in humans) for 3 months, so this will be bad news in the country if the case is confirmed).

(Here's the latest link we ran from Vietnam touting their success).

CBS News has the China and Vietnam story as well.

Reuters on the new suspected case in Vietnam.

Recombinomics on the new case in China.

CIDRAP on the new cases in Vietnam and China.

The San Francisco Chronicle has become a frequent publisher of flu information. This excellent column talks about whether we can expect the government to bail us out

Regina Phelps, a leading San Francisco emergency-management consultant, said she appreciates the president's belated attention to the matter. But she isn't encouraged.

"I don't know if our government is going to be able to do what it needs to do to meet this challenge," Phelps told me. "In light of what's happening in Iraq and the recent hurricanes, we can't look to government to save us from this.

"Businesses are going to have to rise to the occasion," she said. "It's going to have to happen on the private-sector level."

CBS News Healthwatch has questions answered from WebMd about the bird flu.

This very interesting story comes from the Philippines, and it talks about protective measures being taken in Asia.

In the Philippines, officials announced that all athletes from bird flu-affected countries coming to Manila for the 23rd Southeast Asian Games this month will be banned from visiting aviaries and poultry farms-just in case this was on their itinerary. Health officials have expressed concern that the virus could be carried into the archipelago by means of the travelers' clothing or shoes.

In addition, visitors would be banned this year from going to Sagada to trap migratory birds at night using nets, after attracting the fowls with lanterns or small fires.

"Bird owners should not kiss their pets," Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement outlining measures people should take when handling their feathered friends.

On Tuesday, Vietnam banned the sale of duck blood pudding-a specialty appetizer that aficionados say is too much of a tradition to give up, although it's been blamed for passing bird flu to people.


Shanghai officials said they would disinfect the shoe soles of all travelers arriving by land, sea or air, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

This is a must-read from the BBC, outlining the policy dilemmas in fighting the flu, from shutting schools (ie, it makes sense, but what would it do to productivity as parents had to stay home to care for children? What about the children of healthcare workers, etc.)

The EU reports that Roche is working to increase Tamiflu production.

There's H5 in Japan word if it is N1 or N2.

A UPI analysis of the Annan speech that spelled out what has to be done--beyond stockpiling antivirals--to fight the flu.

Here's the original UN plan post.

SE Asian nations vow cooperation against the bird flu.

Thailand announces that two people who died of respiratory illness did not have the bird flu.

The EU Commissioner is visiting SE Asia.

The Farm Bureau News says agriculture is doing its part to fight the flu.

In Salt Lake City, they say a Utah pandemic could kill 4,000.

(Just an aside, but there are all kinds of death projections being done, and they're all guesses. My benchmark is always the 1918 flu--2.5% death rate on 20% (or 25%) infection. For Utah, that would yield around 15,000 deaths.)

Thailand is moving ahead with generic Tamiflu, with production beginning in January.

So is Vietnam.

Roche says it will work with anyone to create the ability to increase Tamiflu supplies.

In Memphis, they say that Tamiflu runs are uneccesary.

Brunei is stockpiling Tamiflu.

Singapore says essential workers will get the first Tamiflu.

Denmark is increasing its Tamiflu supply.

Yale professors say the President's funding to improve cell culture vaccine development is ahead of itself--cell culture needs more basic research to get the job done.

CIDRAP on reports of economic catastrophes in Asia if pandemic hits.

Effect Measure writes on something I had wondered about---what was the final answer to the question of which agency would coordinate US response to the pandemic. The answer is DHS, with roles for many other agencies.

Must, must read for flu junkies. There's a debate going on at the Scientific American blog, featuring many of our favorite characters, including Revere and Wendy Orent. It all started with this:

It began with this John Rennie post trying to sort out the worry/don't worry camps.

Wendy Orent fired back, defending and clarifying her positions.

Paul Ewald responded as well, attacking Revere's viewpoint on the flu.

Finally, Revere answered, saying that Ewald is a fringe figure.

Revere also posted an answer on Effect Measure as well.

<>Effect Measure continues to roll out its review of the Bush flu plan. This one is very good, as it examines the assumptions (r-nought, etc) of the bird flu. Here is Revere's conclusion:

So that's what the planners were planning for. Straightforward. Correct. None of it news. It says, in essence, what many have known for years. If a pandemic strikes, we're screwed.

A 1918-like influenza pandemic would tax the resources of the best prepared nation. It is an overwhelming natural catastrophe. But like other natural catastrophes (e.g., hurricane Katrina), adequately preparation makes a world of difference in mitigating the consequences. ...

Hence the stark reality of the Pandemic Flu Plan, which has no real plans in it except to say to the states and localities, "Watch Out. Here it comes. Good night and good luck."

ProMed on the Russian outbreak we reported yesterday.


At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does your benchmark estimate simply take the global numbers from 1918 into account? If so, is there any reason to believe that the U.S. statistics would deviate from the global ones?

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Good question. I looked at the 1918 Flu entry on wikipedia to find the answer.

In fact, there was wide variation around the world in death rates.

The entry says 28% of the US population was infected, and 500K-675K died. With about 106 million Americans, that translates to 1.7%-2.2% fatality rate. So, my number could be anywhere from a close to moderately high.

As I said, its all a guess, but thanks for your question, which encouraged me to develop better numbers.


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