Thursday, March 02, 2006

March 2 Flu Update

Serbia reports bird flu in a dead swan...very likely to be H5N1, but there's no official report.

Likewise, in Azerbaijan, bird flu has been confirmed in poultry.

France reports 11 new cases in birds.

ProMed on two new suspected human cases in Indonesia and two new cases in Iraq.

ProMed on Niger appealing for international help, and new cases in wild birds in Greece and Hungary.

Not surprisingly, the Bahamas government has downplayed the chance of bird flu there.

Same in Canada, as Quebec farms that had imported chickens from France are believed to be bird flu free.

Correctly, the US has determined that the bird flu could be incubating right now somewhere, and no one would know. The US is looking to fill those surveillance gaps.

"But it really takes a lot of time and a lot of money. There are a lot of black boxes out there where something could emerge and we won't be able to find it," Gerberding added. Gerberding said the CDC was building 18 "platforms" around the world for speedier movement in case of an outbreak. An existing group in Kenya was able to get to Nigeria quickly after last month's outbreak in birds there, she said.

A professor in Stockholm says chemotherapy may help cure the bird flu. I'm not sure how this solution "scales" in the event of a pandemic.

Is this a portent of the future? Germans are dumping their cats at shelters.

Or is this a portent of the future. The Chinese continue to warn about a hostile spring.

CIDRAP on the Chinese prediction of a rough Spring. Dr. Osterholm steps in with what many people see beneath the announcement.

"Many of us believe that this type of discussion by someone as high as the vice premier really indicates that this situation is already occurring," said Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP Web site.

"You don't see these kinds of statements coming out of the government of China very often," he added.

Osterholm said he has been told there is more avian flu in China than has been reported publicly. "I can't say the sources, but there are more [human] cases going on in China than have been released and reported to the World Health Organization. Also, there's information from a variety of sources suggesting the level of bird infections is substantially higher than is being reported."

He said his information came from "sources on the ground in China as well as other informed government sources."

WHO official issues reminder that bird flu would be bad for economies across the globe.

The FDA has developed new guidelines for submitting clinical data for vaccine approval. The idea is to expedite appproval.

Alabama continues its bird flu pandemic preparations.

As noted here earlier, the Japanese have joined others in creating artifical sources of shikimic acid.

New York TV station reports that customs officials have been confiscating millions of Tamiflu pills being smuggled or hoarded.

The NY Times on US ordering more medication (covered here yesterday), and Democrats critical of the pace.

Effect Measure weighs in with Secretary Leavitt's ongoing tour where he tells every state that they are on their own in the early days on any crisis.

So am I agreeing with Leavitt? Yes and no. Yes, what he says is correct. But No, it didn't have to be. If we had spent the bioterrorism money rationally to strengthen the social service and public health infrastructures of our communities we would have taken a big step toward making them sufficiently robust to withstand the threat of epidemic infectious diseases of all kinds, including bird flu. Instead we wasted the money on bureaucratic wheelspinning, useless gadgets hawked by war profiteers and foisted on local communities, and distorted priorities. We've been doing it for almost five years, and Gregg, his party, his President and sadly, many Democrats (like Joe Lieberman) are responsible.
Effect Measure on the bird flu sending fear through....the poultry industry in the US.

An Italian scientist wrote his colleagues around the world, and asked them to release all flu sequences. Recombinomics on the case.

Recombinomics also on a suspected fatal familial cluster in Pakistan. We await further confirmation.

Laurie Garrett gave a talk in Madison, WI. She says that the bird flu would dwarf 9/11.

Not only does bird flu pose a potential global health catastrophe, its threat to national security could dwarf Sept. 11, a public health expert told a Madison audience.

"I don't say that lightly," said Laurie Garrett, who lives next to the World Trade Center site in New York and witnessed the 2001 terrorist attacks.


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