Tuesday, February 14, 2006

February 14 Flu Update

Happy Valentine's Day!

Albania is banning poultry imports from countries with flu.

Reuters says the dead swans in Austria were H5N1, and other news from every affected country in Europe.

MSNBC adds Iran to the list of countries with bird flu outbreaks.

ProMed from around the world...adding Germany and Russia to the bird outbreak list.

CIDRAP says bird flu confirmed of suspected in humans in five countries.

Birds have begun to leave Sub-Saharan Africa and head North. Morocco is preparing.

More bird flu in Romania, this time along the Black Sea.

Dateline Italy. Guy loses job delivering chickens because bird flu fears have driven sales down. The rest is tragedy.

Claudio Rubello, 49, pummelled his wife and 10-year-old daughter to death in their sleep and severely beat his two teenage sons, who survived the attack, before slitting his own throat with a kitchen knife, newspapers reported.

FAO says there's a real threat of bird flu throughout Europe.

VOA details the pressure on Nigerian farmers as the flu spreads.

On the domestic front, the Leavitt is promising immunity to vaccine makers before they start clinical trials.

Some good news on ProMed. As reported yesterday, two children in Nigeria do not have bird flu, and two people were released from quarantine in Greece.

The Italian Health Minister says only one region has not produced a pandemic flu plan.

To increase confidence in poultry, the Italian government is going to strengthen its inspection and labelling policy.

Taiwan says China's lack of transparency makes it a bird flu risk, and Taiwan would be among the first to pay. Story notes that some praise China for improving response compared to SARS.

South Africa says it has precaution in place for bird flu.

The CIDRAP conference on business preparedness took place today. Secretary Leavitt warned companies not to expect any help from the federal government.

An organizer of the conference, public health expert Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, outlined scenarios where corpses will pile up and vital global supply lines will disintegrate as the pandemic takes hold and up to 60 percent of the world's population becomes infected.

Still, 98 out of 100 people will likely survive, and that must be prepared for too, he said.

Hospital beds, ventilators, and surgical masks and gloves will run out almost immediately, Osterholm said.

Leavitt read a scenario in which every porch had a casket, there was no work and men were kept busy digging graves.

"This is not a Stephen King novel I am reading from," Leavitt said. He was reading from a Kentucky coal miner's account of the catastrophic consequences of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed between 20 million and 100 million people worldwide.

Inspired by Osterholm, AMR research wrote this on supply chains, and whether they would remain in place during a pandemic.

In Hollister, MA, a local columnist writes that after 1918, the pandemic of 200? should be taken seriously.

Reuters covers a topic you have seen here before--a paper calls for answers to the question of how to ration ventilators during a pandemic.

Algeria has a contract to produce Tamiflu.

Recombinomics has released a press release taking credit for predicting a mutation in the H5N1 virus.

Effect Measure on the "special situation" of Iraq.

Effect Measure encourages everyone to contribute to their community's bird flu preperations--not limiting preperation to merely an individual basis.

The big issues will be those loosely called social services: how to care for the many people who will need care despite no money, family or social support; how to ration scarce resources of all kinds; how to cope with a prolonged 30% to 40% absenteeism that can cripple essential services like food supply, pharmacies, water, power; how to provide for the dead and comfort their survivors. All of these things can be done by schools, businesses and agencies thinking ahead and putting in place some rudimentary planning. Who are the key people in your business and what would you do if they were out sick? What if power was off for a week or ten days? When do you close your school and what do you do about childcare if school is closed? These are hard questions but it won't do any good waiting for someone else to give you the answer. No one knows what to do. But you can start thinking about it. There is an impressive amount of raw brain power in our communities and we have no doubt some innovative solutions will be found -- sooner or later.
Dr. Gleeson says that while he remains on yellow, the situation has changed a lot in a month and the odds of staying H2H falls every day.

Right now, we have a phenomenally rapidly growing and fatal B2B infection (it kills birds), which will soon spread to every country in the world. These infected birds will infect other birds and rarely a human, most worryingly in geographic areas where humans and birds live in close contact. The virus might stay limited to B2B, but . . . .


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