Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 22 Flu Update

The big news today is a study that purports to explain why flu isn't easily transmissible between people.

Scientists say they've found a reason bird flu isn't spreading easily from person to person: The virus concentrates itself too deep in the respiratory tract to be spewed out by coughing and sneezing.

I thought that all this sounded kind of familiar. So, check my archives, I saw that Helen Branswell wrote on this back on June 19, 2005, based on an autopsy of a flu victim.

Slated for publication in the July issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, their findings of an atypical pattern of infection - deep in the lungs, away from the tracheal lining where virus could easily be coughed out at others - may help explain why H5N1 influenza doesn't yet spread easily among people.
So did Gina Kolata, based on an interview with Jeffrey Tauenberger.

The bird flu viruses now prevalent share some of the crucial genetic changes that occurred in the 1918 flu, scientists said, but not all. The scientists suspect that with the 1918 flu, changes in just 25 to 30 out of about 4,400 amino acids in the viral proteins turned the virus into a killer. The new work also reveals that 1918 virus acts much differently from ordinary human flu viruses. It infects cells deep in the lungs of mice and infects lung cells, like the cells lining air sacs, that would normally be impervious to flu. And while other human flu viruses do not kill mice, this one, like today's bird flus, does.
So why is this news?

ProMed on these reports, note the mod comment from CP.

Recombinomics notes that some genetic data suggests the version which has been deadly (and maybe more H2H) in Turkey and Azerbaijan may bind better to upper respiratory cells.

Bird flu in Gaza (in birds).

Britain confirms bird flu in Pakistan, and chicken sales go straight down.

China has decided to turn over its flu samples to WHO, in a concession to public pressure.

Any work done with China's viruses will have to credit the lab that supplied samples, and WHO has promised to help China negotiate terms of any commercial gain from them, she said.

"We hope that this is now the start ... of regular sharing that doesn't involve the degree of negotiations that we've had," she said.

Nick Zamiska from the WSJ is back...from tomorrow's paper. WHO has said it can't open its database because some countries would object. Yet, those countries have told the Journal they don't object. What's the real hold up here?

CIDRAP says WHO has published a revised pandemic containment plan. Its still basically the same containment plan.

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, a leading pandemic preparedness advocate and a skeptic on the possibility of containment, said the revised WHO plan represents "a more realistic approach" to containment than the previous version. "However, the activity of the last 2 months in countries throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa only further supports the fact that early recognition and documentation of an emerging pandemic is going to be difficult if not impossible," he added.

Link to the WHO plan.

ProMed on Gaza and Israel, but also on a "worsening" situation in Russia and on OIE reports of a substandard flu vaccine for birds being used in China (remember when they were going to vaccinate every bird in the country?)

MSNBC on what schools will need to do during a pandemic, as one of the world's most effective incubators.

This report says the outbreak in Azerbaijan that has killed 5 "appears to have been contained."

The virus may be contained, but fear is running rampant. People are afraid to attend funerals, even with assurances of no H2h.

Egypt reports its fourth human case.

ProMed on Egypt, but also on an interesting report from Cambodia that says asymptomatic cases may not be going undetected--a key flu surveillance and virulence question.

ProMed on outbreaks continuing in Israel and Malaysia.

Bloomberg says cases will only increase as the virus spreads in Asia and Africa.

A lot of ink has been spent talking about Hungary's flu vaccine, and countries have contacted them to discuss purchasing it. The Scientist (UK) tells everyone to just hang on a minute--its unlikely to be all its cracked up to be.

Ian Gust, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, told The Scientist that the Hungarians employed a method that most of the developed world has not used in at least forty years. “It is a relatively crude process that was associated with a lot of reactions in people who received the vaccine in the past,” he said. “I don’t think developed countries would revert to this.” Most of the developed world’s manufacturers are working onHN1 vaccines, containing split and whole viruses, but are “using more sophisticated production processes.”

Some people seem surprised that an African flu conference discussed containing the virus without discussing how to prevent humans from getting it.

OIE report from Sweden, via ProMed.

GSK and Roche get big orders from the US Government.

A company called PPG is working with Roche to make (I assume) shikimic acid artifically.

US Hospitals are thinking about humans bringing the disease here, theorizing (probably correctly) that the first US cases will be in travellers returning from flu stricken countries.

At the University of Chicago Hospitals, any patient with flu symptoms who'd recently traveled to Asia and had contact with live poultry would be sent to an isolation room, said Dr. Stephen Weber, whose job is to control infection outbreaks.
Local NY upstate TV report on local preperations for the bird flu.

Michigan looks at its migratory birds and thinks flu.

Wow. Big day on the flu news from. Effect Measure adds needed perspective.

The best outcome will be if this pandemic never materializes. This is possible, although seeming less likely by the day. The advantage of strengthening community relationships and structures that foster mutual aid in prepration is that it will not be wasted. We get better, stronger, more resilient communities for whatever happens.

There is still time to fill the sandbags and get our treasures up off the floor. We can help each other. Let's get busy.


At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent work in researching your archives. The NY Times is so arrogant that they reallly believe that if they are just discovering something, it must be new.Its not news until it is in the NYT!

At 1:41 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Thank you, sir.


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