Thursday, February 02, 2006

February 2 Flu Update--is the Groundhog Day Metaphor cliche for today?

This report (and there are others) claims that 162 Iraqis are in the diagnosis center "on suspicion" of contracting the virus. I'll have to see more before I really but that. If true, its beyond significant.

I suspected I would find Recombinomics on this, and I did.

An Indonesian boy died of apparent bird flu yesterday.

This is comforting. US experts quoted in this story are resigned to the flu overwhelming us.

U.S. flu experts are resigned to being overwhelmed by an avian flu pandemic, saying hospitals, schools, businesses and the general public are nowhere near ready to cope.
This might be confirming the obvious, but WHO has confirmed the death of the teenager in Iraq.

Effect Measure on Iraq.

Kazakhs and Russians are preparing for the bird flu's inevitable return.

Based on what we heard yesterday, this is not terrible surprising, but the three cases in Hong Kong appear to be negative.

A Russian expert says the flu cannot be a biological weapon. (Note: who asked?)

Meanwhile, they're putting $46M into the bird flu fight.

There were sick birds in Syria (I don't recall this) but WHO says there is no evidence of bird or human flu.

This is interesting. How is Brown University preparing for the bird flu?

Not even sure why this is news, but WHO says "coordinated action" is the key.

There continues to be interesting news on the vaccine front. CIDRAP reports that two studies show that using the common cold virus as the basis for a flu vaccine may hold many advantages.

The studies are from CDC, and UPitt, as already reported. Helen Branswell gives us the straight scoop--encouraging, but there's a way to go.

β€œIt's very, very encouraging,” said Dr. Robert Belshe, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri.

(But) I've got a sign over my door that says: You can prove anything in mice. And so we need to get a clinical trial in humans and look at that information. And that would really be critically important.”


Flu viruses are constantly drifting in this way; it's why getting a flu shot one year won't protect you against next year's circulating flu strains.

And yet, when the mice were challenged with viruses isolated in Vietnam in 2003 and 2004, the 1997 vaccine was protective.

That suggests this type of vaccine is more cross protective than regular flu vaccines, creating the possibility that pandemic vaccine could be made and stockpiled in advance, the authors said.

New Scientist on this story as well.

Roche says it will likely produce Tamiflu in Brazil.

British research on increasing resistance in antivirals to Influenza A.

ProMed from around the world.

Dr. Gleeson is still on a steady yellow.


At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about the 162 people in 'thekurdistani', a web paper out of the UK that I'm assuming supports the formation of an independant Kurdish nation.

Based on my reading of the article, it appears that 162 people showed up with flu-like symptoms (keep in mind H3N2 is circulating in Turkey). Of these, roughly 32 had symptoms which prompted testing for H5N1. I don't know how many were ultimately kept--the article didn't say--I presume that would be based on how sick they were regardless of whether the illness was due to H5N1 or H3N2.

While this sounds good from the standpoint of there being only 30-odd highly suspicious cases, the bad thing it implies to me is that there's just been a congregation of 162 people some of whom have H5N1 and others who have H3N2 (and others who have neither of these but some other non-flu illness).

If we take on faith that the WHO isn't mistaken or lying about H5N1 still having low human-human transmissibility, then it would be unlikely any H3N2 sufferers will catch H5N1 from such an aggregation. But any genuine H5N1 patients may have been put at risk of additional infection by H3N2.

This leaves us with at least a theoretical possibility of having a reassortment event as a result of this congregation of people seeking treatment.

The only good thing is the last two times (1957, 1968) we had reassorted viruses causing a pandemic, the pandemic was relatively mild. So if we are blindsided by an H3N1 or an H5N2, my guess is that it would likely be a lesser problem than if H5N1 finds its way into our species all by itself.

Still, the economy is vulnerable. No matter how many people die, the worker absences from critical functions are gonna really mess with the conveniences of the first-world lifestyle, if not the necessities.

The newspaper is interesting to visit, as are the comments upon it. The comments especially seem to have a (non-terrorist) fundamentalist islamic slant which is not commonly seen in the western press.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Orange;

"British research on increasing resistance in antivirals to Influenza A."

Do you perhaps mean

"British research on increasing resistance in Influenza A to antivirals." ?

I had a good chuckle....

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Yeah, that's what I meant...glad I was able to give you a laugh :-)

On the other stuff, good post!


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