Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January 10 Flu Update

There's a new reported case of bird flu in Turkey.

Turkish PM says flu "under control" there.

More...cases are not critical.

OIE says bad weather is making the flu fight harder.

WHO Update on Turkey. Says 100,00 courses of Tamiflu have arrived--we'll see about the resistance issues now.

In Britain, a lab is ready to crack the code of the flu in Turkey, and reveal all its secrets.

Researchers at the National Institute of Medical Research can use the code to determine whether the virus is resistant to Tamiflu, the drug being stockpiled to deal with a potential pandemic, the London Telegraph reported.
"It is incredible. This will tell us where the virus came from. It will tell us whether there have been mutations," he said.

Effect Measure on this, and the Turks who are flooding hospitals and clinics...and how, in his view, the claims of "no evidence" that virus has changed being increasingly "hollow"

Excellent comments on Effect Measure as well, including some from Revere and Recombinomics.

ProMed on the WHO report from Turkey...note the following.

So far, children have predominated among fatal cases of the disease, and there has been no apparent transmission of virus between family members, although siblings have been infected. Healthcare and agricultural workers have not featured as victims of infection. These features suggest that the transmissibility of the H5N1 avian influenza virus remains unchanged.

Effect Measure lays out the spectrum of potential answers for the riddle about why people seem to be getting infected in Turkey more than elsewhere. Note that he echoes my comment from yesterday that flu doesn't need a high fatality rate to be catastrophic.

Helen Branswell is back. She writes that the first impression--and only that--is that the disease is no different than in Asia.

"I don't think there is something strange going on. That's not my impression," Rodier said from Ankara, Turkey, during a WHO briefing for reporters.

"But we're talking about impressions here, not about fact. And fact has to be established by data collection and data analysis, and that takes time."

ProMed on the study about the higher incidence and lower fatality. Mod comment below is valuable, as always.

In the absence of supporting serological data, it is premature to conclude that all or any of the symptomatic flu-like illnesses recorded are associated with H5N1 avian influenza virus. There are a diverse range of human respiratory viruses that could account for these findings.

CIDRAP on the news cases in China and Turkey.

Recombinomics has data that says 139 suspected and confirmed cases are in Turkey. Heavy on the suspected.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin is pushing for Russia to protect its southern border against bird flu.

Serbia is increasing border patrols as well.

ProMed on border controls in Bulgaria.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reminds everyone that when it comes to the bird flu, don't forget the pigs.

US Labor Unions are looking for protection for front-line workers in the event of a pandemic.

Alabama says chickens there are "really safe."

How will zoo animals in San Francicso be protected. Articles says they will go off display as soon as the flu is near.

Not suprisingly, this report says that Roche has reserved enough Tamiflu for each of its 65,000 employees and their families.

Vietnam says it has extracted shikimic acid from star anise.

Given that the flu may develop resistance quickly to Tamiflu, the Vietnamese are adopting their strategy for fighting the flu.

In Japan, H5N2 may have its first human cases.

Radio Open Source at NPR is planning a story on "The virus hunters." They are beginning to work on the show, and contacted me this week about who they might talk to about the bird flu. They also asked me to encourage you to go to their website, and submit the questions you would like to ask to the top scientists and authorities in the flu field.

The link is here.

I also was contacted by CBC, and had the opportunity tonight to preview a rough cut of a docudrama they are airing on January 11 at 9 PM--Eastern, I assume. It is excellent, and if you're reading with CBC access, you should tune in. It focuses on a family with a nurse/mother, and her dilemma...as well as showing people heading for the hills--only to be not welcome. Interspersed are experts like Dr. Webster, and other Canadian public health experts. Schools are closed, Vatican City closes St. Peter's Square, etc...and yet, each public health expert says that those measures don't really help. This is the full dramatization of Dr. Osterholm's (who is featured) "We're Screwed" scenario.


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