Saturday, February 25, 2006

February 24 Flu Update

The Wall Street Journal ran a very interesting story out of their Hong Kong Bureau (Nicholas Zamiska) yesterday on how the world has been hurt by an academic dispute about bird flu samples in China. A US group of scientists had written a paper based on some Chinese samples from Qinhai, and did so without crediting the Chinese scientists. (Link is subscription required).

"Since that meeting, China hasn't provided a single sample from its infected flocks, despite repeated requests by WHO amid roughly 30 outbreaks the country has reported in tthe past 12 months."

Effect Measure comments on this story and this topic as a whole. Certain behavior might be acceptable in ordinary times, but not in extraordinary times.

Viruses move across borders much more quickly than data, even though the latter are capable of moving with the speed of electrons. The speed bottle neck here is social and political. Neither the outmoded system of international relations nor the twentieth century mentality that governs senior academic researchers and journal editors works in this situation. In an emergency there must be some recognition that the usual criteria of personal and national credit are suspended. That might entail both a real and a perceived sacrifice in recognition, credit and perhaps economic benefit. Since that is a lot to ask of people and nations, we see the best antidote is worldwide censure of behavior that in other circumstances would be considered acceptable and usual but in this circumstance is reprehensible.

WHO is reporting that a third human case in Iraq is suspected, north of Baghdad. Also, story notes that Perdue of WHO says that the disease appears to be the isolate from Turkey.

WHO is warning Iraq to do more to control bird flu.

South Korea is talking about four confirmed human infections. I think this is important. They were exposed in late 2004 to early 2004, and showed symptoms, yet have the antibodies today.

ProMed on this and others news. Mod comment on what this could mean.

India is awaiting one last lab result, but expects it to be negative as well.

However, not everyone is accepting what is coming out of India's news machine. Effect Measure translates a classically oblique and diplomatic that could signal real concerns about what has been learned there.

Here's the WHO report.

Recombinomics on what could be a human death in India.

ProMed with the straight news from India.

CIDRAP reports bird flu is in Georgia--the former Soviet state.

ProMed worldwide survey. Note especially the late reference to many dead birds in Pakistani Kashmir.

ProMed worldwide survey II.

Chiron says it will produce 70% of its US vaccine order before turning its attention to the next round of seasonal viruses.

Indonesia has the most cases, and this Australian says that the country has too little money and expertise to fight the bird flu.

ABC News (US) has this on a pandemic drill help in Lyon--a low-profile kind of effort from which things could still be learned.

This is something we would expect to see more of as things get worse--the Japanese have banned French poultry.

Here's another: poultry farmers in Nigeria are highly suspicious of the government's bird flu plans--a polisci point: mistrust in government, growing everywhere, will be making fighting a bird flu harder.

In Europe, airlines are looking for SARS on clues to fighting the bird flu.

European airlines have drawn up contingency plans to ground thousands of flights and installed disease protection supplies on planes in the event of an outbreak of the bird flu virus in Europe. There have been no changes so far to passenger's travel patterns following positive tests for the H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry in Europe, but airlines said on Friday they were leaving nothing to chance. Adopting lessons from the deadly SARS epidemic in Asia two years ago, some airlines have installed masks, goggles and gloves on planes while training staff how to respond to an epidemic.
We ran the picture earlier this week, but here's the National Geographic story--the ravens of the Tower of London have been brought in.

Controversey in Australia over speculation bird flu is already there.

Sensibly, the Red Cross says that the key to fighting bird flu is to empower local communities with information and resources--just what Secretary Leavitt says, though doesn't necessarily do.

Tamiflu has been good for business at Roche.

Indonesia is buying 12 million capsules of Tamiflu--5 million from Roche and 7 million from local sources.

Roche is trying to help India with its prevention need--more delivery statistics.

With all the Tamiflu talk, its important to keep in mind that there are still open questions as to its overall effectivenss. Enter Forbes with this article on concerns about drug resistance. Though this is for seasonal flu, it provides a cautionary tale.

A lecture was given at Purdue University on the bird flu. Here's the key quote:

George Avery, assistant professor of health and kinesiology, believes the issue is a serious problem, but not as big as many believe.

"We have the ability to develop these medicines and human-to-human transmission has not yet been proven," he said.

"Our current state of sciences are so advanced, we would be able to deal with (an outbreak)."

Local TV reports on how to find Tamiflu in the Tennessee Valley.

Effect Measure on the way chickens are raised in Arkansas. We often say that bird flu risk is less here because of how we raise chickens--read this for a different perspective.


At 3:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. WHO has told Iraq they must do more to control H5N1. I feel much safer now...


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