Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21 Flu Update

Quoth the Raven...


WHO update on the "rapid geographic spread" of bird flu.

For human health, experience elsewhere over the past two years has shown that the greatest risk of cases arises when the virus becomes established in small backyard flocks, which allow continuing opportunities for close human contact, exposures, and infections to occur.

All available evidence indicates that the virus does not spread easily from poultry to humans. To date, very few cases have been detected in poultry workers, cullers, or veterinarians. Almost all cases have been linked to close contact to diseased household flocks, often during slaughtering, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for consumption.

No cases have been linked to the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs, even in households where disease was known to be present in flocks.

France and the Netherlands are both calling for poultry vaccination in Europe.

Hungary confirms bird flu in birds--seventh EU Nation.

Helen Branswell on efforts to quell fears of bird flu.

John Wood, a leading influenza virologist, doesn't believe the recent developments have changed the nature of the pandemic threat posed by this virus.

"I think the risk is still the same as it was a few months ago, before the virus started moving all over Europe and into India and Nigeria," Wood, who's with Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, said yesterday.

The story goes on to quote the experts as saying they worry more when disease is in domestic birds, as opposed to wild birds. They then note that Nigeria and some other countries have had recent poultry outbreaks.

Effect Measure has a different WHO report that talks about mutations of the virus. Despite Dr. Nabarro saying that the virus was two mutations closer to H2H, this WHO statement says that its really very difficult to know that for sure. (I'm paraphrasing, you should read the whole thing yourself.) Revere is disappointed, though, when WHO concludes a nuanced statement with paradoxical confidence that human transmissibility isn't imminent.

Here's the link to the WHO report.

In India, the soybean industry says it won't be hit by the flu there, even if it loses chicken feed as a market.

As reported yesterday, Flu is back in Malaysia with 40 reported dead birds.

I think its a fair observation that there seem to be strong reactions in India to the flu being found there-but maybe its only because there's more English-language media there. There are apparently 8 new potential human cases in that country. Note this:

At a meeting of the CCEA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his senior colleagues decided to get the railways and Indian Airlines lift the ban on serving chicken and eggs. The decision came as different wings of the government appeared to be pulling in different directions.

Let's assume the use of "wing" is an unintentional pun.

Animal vaccine makers in India are gearing up a response.

WHO experts continue to express concern.

``It's absolutely unprecedented,'' WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng told The Associated Press. ``We've never seen so many outbreaks of the same virus in so many different regions, and our concern obviously is that humans could potentially come into contact with birds infected with H5N1, which would mean populations worldwide are potentially at risk.''

FAO says bird flu continues to spread among birds in Nigeria, but with no reported human cases.

The Indian Ag Minister has asked the media to stop inciting panic.

Officials in a part of India are reporting that they delayed reporting the bird flu, though only for a few days.

Bulgaria says no human cases in that country. (We doubted this one before).

Pigeonbasics.com is defending pigeon racing from bird flu panic.

Birds are dying in Niger, and the flu is feared.

Slovakia also reports bird flu in two wild birds.

Contrary to a report yesterday, the Palestinian MOH says no bird flu there.

The Daily Telegraph brings back stories from the 1918 flu, and reminds everyone that we are "overdue" for a pandemic.

Two large Swiss Pharma firms are combining forces to develop a RNAi based vaccine for bird flu.

"An RNAi therapeutic could be an innovative modality, crippling the virus through incapacitating several genes. In addition, such drugs might be adapted to new strains as they emerge. Of course, the technology is young and is just now being tested in early clinical trials, but our hope is that it will open new therapeutic frontiers," he added.

RNA interference, or RNAi, is a naturally occurring mechanism within cells for selectively silencing and regulating specific genes.

Since many diseases are caused by the inappropriate activity of specific genes, the ability to silence genes selectively through RNAi could provide a new way to treat a wide range of human diseases.

Fake Tamiflu continues to be available on the Internet.

Indonesia will deliver Tamiflu through community health centers. (Each center gets enough pills for 10 patients).

ProMed...travel warnings issued for Egypt, and surveillance ongoing in India. Mod CP says...

No new human case has been reported from any country. Also there has been no confirmation of direct transmission of H5N1 avian influenza virus from wild birds to humans anywhere in the outbreak areas or beyond. The screening [in Imdia] appears to be based to a large extent on symptomatology and may be intended to reassure the population rather than to locate human cases. -Mod.CP
Promed with various surveys of the news around the world. Note that poultry sales are plummeting.


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