Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21 Flu Update

We've updated the death toll to 103, based on WHO figures, which said that 7 of 11 Azerbaijani cases were positive. 5 of the 7 were fatal. Key element follows:

There so far was no indication of direct exposure to dead or diseased poultry in some of the cases. That has been the usual source of exposure for humans who caught bird flu, which remains a difficult disease for people to catch.

WHO report from Azerbaijan.

Recombinomics sees a familial cluster.

Just as alarming, ProMed reports 14 suspected new cases in Azerbaijan.

ProMed on confirmed case in Pakistan, as well as suspected in Slovenia and Kazhakstan.

If a pandemic starts, only about three dozen nations have the resources and infrastructure to properly do surveillance and containment.

From Pakistan, a medical superintendent from a local hospital had this to say:

“It is not a deadly virus because only 83 people worldwide have died of it since its discovery,” he said, blaming the media for negatively highlighting bird flu by publishing sensational stories. “Neither have we prepared for the virus nor is there a need to do so,” he added.

At the same time, this story seems to say some positive results have been received in Pakistan, and they caused a "red alert."

Story looks at legislative efforts in US states on bird flu.

Four negative results are in from India.

Bay of Plenty (NZ) has rejected advice on stockpiling Tamiflu in favor of anti biotics....because they anti biotics they can use even if there is not a pandemic. (??)

Meanwhile US computer study says that closing schools won't help prevent pandemic...children will just meet at the movies, stores, etc. What will work, it suggests, is for people who are sick of who have contact with the sick to stay home.

WHO hosted a major flu summit in Africa. They are calling for a continent wide committee to monitor and do surveillance.

The WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Luis Gomes Sambo, told the conference in Gabon's capital Libreville that countries found to have bird flu must implement a minimum level of control measures, including confining poultry, improving veterinary controls and ensuring those involved used protective clothing.

Such measures are far from straightforward in Africa, where many areas lack basic public health and veterinary services and what clinics there are often run short of essential supplies.
Labs confirm India has been hit by the Asian strain of bird flu--the Chinese and Vietnamese version.

NY Times on WHO's call yesterday for sharing of flu samples.

The FDA has called for a ban on using human anti virals in poultry, to preserve their use in humans.

Alaska (likely first bird flu state) is stocking up on Tamiflu.

The Malaysian health minister says no human bird flu there.

More on the US government's interagency plan for fighting the flu.

A survey business conference attendees says that a large majority don't believe the government is ready for the bird flu.

Effect Measure on continuing stories about whether the flu strains should be public, which of course they should. Gives a tip of the hat to leaders in science and journalism who were at the forefront of this issue.

More Effect Measure. A couple of days ago we ran a story from the Boston Globe that talked, in our view, about states and the federal government having responsiblity, and not relying so much on the local system. Revere has a different view "dumb and dangerous" and you can read it here.

ProMed on yesterday's report about two strains of bird flu.

Recombinomics with ample reasoning behind the theory of recombination as opposed to random mutation.


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