Sunday, February 12, 2006

February 12 Flu Update

The New York Times on the spread of flu to Western Europe. Everyone at great pains to say that there's nothing to be alarmed or surprised about.

The NY Times also had this "News Analysis" on a "worrisome new front."

As late as Monday, Nigerian veterinary officials were assuring the nation that the disease was not in their country. But Juan Lubroth, a senior veterinarian at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said in an interview that there was strong evidence that bird flu took root in Nigeria "a few months ago." While the outbreak took place on a commercial poultry farm, he said, the virus may well have been percolating for months in backyard flocks.

"How long has it been trickling around, with five deaths here and five deaths there, and owners would possibly not be aware of the problem?" he asked.

The Director General of WHO had a statement on the situation in Nigeria. It reads to me like WHO wants the world to know help is or was available to Nigeria. (ProMed link contains other news as well).

The single most important public health priority at this stage is to warn people about the dangers of close contact with sick or dead birds infected with H5N1. The vast majority of all human cases and deaths from H5N1 have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults.

Signalling a potential further spread, Slovenia has sent samples to that 24/7 lab in Britain from a swan.

Some people might have wondered about the bird flu reaching Italy while the Olympics are there--a perfect virus distribution system, if H2H existed. (That crazy short track speed skating is on as I write.) Anyway, the outbreaks in Italy are 600 miles from Turin.

ProMed on the news from Europe.

The Chief Veterinary Officer of Victoria, Australia says there's nothing to worry about in Australia, because they know what to do.

Fortunately, the wild waterfowl such as ducks, which are the normal carriers of bird flu and which have been partly responsible for spreading H5N1 between countries, simply do not migrate to Australia.

Those birds that do migrate to Australia, such as some of our shore birds, are much less likely to be infected, and have virtually no contact with domestic poultry.

WHO lab confirms that the two deaths in Indonesia were bird flu.

USAID is sending a team to the Phillipines to consult on bird flu prep.

UK's DEFRA Chief Vet (DEFRA is Department for Environnment, Food and Rural Affairs) issues a statement on bird flu.

Taking account of the latest incidents in Eastern Europe, our current risk assessment remains that the overall risk of an imminent outbreak in the UK of avian flu (H5N1) is increased, but still low. However, there is a high risk of further global dispersal and future events may lead us to change our risk assessment. That is why we constantly keep alert to developing factors and are ready to act if necessary.
Here's a medical Q&A in Orlando on the bird flu. The doc is a plastic surgeon.

Recombinomics uses the report from Slovenia to note that the bird has been in the region for months and poor surveillance kept it from being reported sooner.

Recombinomics sees a family cluster in Najaf, Iraq.

Recombinomics also has reports of dead birds (flu?) literally falling from the sky in Iraq.

Crofsblogs says you should just to the the Sofia News Agency to see their bird flu news. They are worried there.

Crofsblog also had this on flu creating outcasts in Iraq.


At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in California, the seasonal flu hit Los Angeles about 3 to 5 days before it hit in San Francisco--a distance similar to that between the outbreaks in Italy and Turin.

Subtract 5 days from the last day of the Olympics. So long as there is no human-human spread in Southern Italy before then, the virus will have missed this particular 'opportunity'.


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