Thursday, March 16, 2006

March 16 Flu Update

Today's lead story....scientists have identified mutations the flu virus might make to cause it to be transmissable between humans.

As reported in the March 17 issue of Science, the researchers used a technique called functional glycan microarray, which studies specific sugar molecules that allow the virus to attach itself to cells. There are a few known mutations that can convert other viruses with H2- and H3-type components from bird to human infections, but the new study showed that these mutations do not cause the H5 bird flu virus to switch to a preference for infecting human cells.

There was a slight change in the virus found in the Vietnamese boy. "This paper concludes that this change might be sufficient for the avian virus to get a foothold in the human population, but not sufficient for the virus to have full virulence in humans," Paulson said.

There is a teenager in Serbia from an area with sick birds, and the teenager is sick with flu like symptoms.

Sick birds found in Myanmar and Malaysia.

A number of chickens are sick in Orkney (Scotland) and its being looked into.

There's further concern of a new outbreak in India.

Bird flu is confirmed in Afghanistan.

There may be bird flu in Southern Israel.

CIDRAP updates the outbreaks...

as does ProMed.

Nick Zamiska is back again in the WSJ today, with a profile of a vet who is applying what he learned fighting rinderplast to bird flu.

The New York Times has an excellent story summarizing what we have heard for a long time--business is behind government in pandemic planning.

India says it is taking proactive steps to protect against the bird flu.

Roche has picked Martek Biosciences to help it produce shikimic acid, and therefore, more Tamiflu.

CIDRAP on Roche upping its production schedule for Tamiflu...and evidence from CDC of hoarding in NYC.

USA Today on upped Tamiflu production. Production target is 400 million.

Still on Tamiflu, there's been a lot of talk about how effective the drug is against bird flu. Doctors on the front line have even said it did nothing. In SE Asia, they are pilot testing a double dosage to see if that helps. Of course, that lowers the number in the link above to 200 million.

The long awaited Dutch bird vaccination program is underway.

Yesterday, we reported sick Azeri dogs. Effect Measure says that might or might not pan out, but reminds us not to be distracted from Indonesia, which he feels is the real trouble spot, noting a lack of the normal flu protection measures there.

Effect Measure on the Bush Flu Guy stepping down.

Effect Measure on the leader of the Russian Community party, who says bird flu is an American plot.

Jasper FL is using an accessible metaphor for pandemic planning...a hurricane.


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