Thursday, January 19, 2006

January 19 Flu Update

Effect Measure notes that all the experts are saying that the Iraqi case is not H5N1. Heavy false negative alert, as always.

Meanwhile, Indonesia also confirms that a 14-year old girl died of a bird flu.

An Indonesian toddler who died of bird flu earlier in the week is said to be confirmed H5N1.

Meanwhile, H5N1 has been found in a dead bird in Hong Kong, seven miles from the Chinese border.

Yesterday, we noted that Lancet had written about Tamiflu being of unknown effectiveness against bird flu. Helen Branswell is on board with significant criticism of this report.

The lead author, meanwhile, argued Wednesday that the work is a solid piece of analysis aimed not at the public but at the scientific community. And Dr. Tom Jefferson said anyone taking from the review the message that neuraminidase inhibitors -- the better known of which is oseltamivir or Tamiflu -- do not work against H5N1 avian influenza would be misreading the article.

"That's not what the review says. That is wrong,'' Jefferson said from Rome, where he works with the Cochrane Vaccines Field, a division of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit network aimed at promoting evidence-based health care.
Belgium says it will have enough drug stocks in hand by the end of this year.

California has announced its bird flu plan.

WHO says that it expects the flu infection rate in Turkey to slow.

Latest WHO update on the China case (35F) we reported yesterday. Note her family members are under observation.

CIDRAP on the second mutation in the Turkey virus, also covered yesterday. Note that the mutation is bringing the disease closer to human infection.

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of this Web site, said the findings point up how little is known about exactly what changes would be sufficient to produce a pandemic strain of virus.

"We know what changes occurred in the 1918 virus, but is that the example or is that the model?" he said. "In other words, does it have to be exactly like that, or can it be a series of changes somewhat like that? We don't know if some changes are more important than others or if some changes have to happen together."

While virologists have learned a lot, "there's more that we don't know than we do know," Osterholm added. "The thing I think is concerning about the situation in Turkey is we continue to see the potential for mutations to occur, which in turn leads us to the possibility that all the wrong mutations might occur and result in a 1918-like experience."

Finland says it is ready for the bird flu.

The first of the ordered Tamiflu has arrived in Malta.

Detroit Free Press on the five things you should know about the bird flu.

Military officials met in Stuttgart to discuss the Army's plans if a bird flu hits Europe.

Effect Measure has the third installment on Virus 101.

ProMed with a multi-country review of the flu around the globe. Note continued bird outbreaks in the Ukraine.

Recombinomics on the science behind the flu mutations in Turkey.

With the bird flu safely overseas, Americans continue to voraciously devour chicken.

The Daily Mail (UK) says that elderberries may fight the bird flu. So does sauerkraut, which could make for a medically strong casserole, if highly distasteful.


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