April 30 Flu Update
Bird flu suspected in New Jersey...not H5N1--Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza.ProMed on culling in Pakistan, wild birds in Germany, and H7N3 in England.They say that the number of flu cases in the Sudan has dropped.
From Thailand, article says the world is watching the bird flu....and while Thailand has done a good job controlling it, no one can afford to be complacent.Officials in the US increasingly worry about animal smuggling and infectious disease.The "Student Operated Press" covers recent bird flu outbreaks.The Public Health Institute looked at some troubling flu scenarios at a recent conference.
Interesting Chicago Tribune article on Wall Street (Citigroup) picking pandemic winners and losers. For example...good for health firms....bad for airlines.Kentucky story on local RN working on pandemic planning committee.
Here's how a worldwide flu epidemic might start:
A sales manager for a multinational corporation returns to his California office from a business trip to Vietnam, feeling sick.
Within days, this otherwise healthy man is near death. Other employees come down with a flulike illness. A cleaning woman dies.
Tests show he has infected his co-workers with a form of bird flu that originated in Asia. Public health officials fear the worst: an outbreak of deadly pandemic flu.
What responsibility does the multinational corporation have to its workers? Can public health officials make residents stay in their homes to prevent the spread of disease? Can the government commandeer a local doctor's supply of Tamiflu for people who need it most, or force nurses to be vaccinated? What if frightened nurses refuse to work?
April 29 Flu Update
Very slow news period. Management (?) has been working to figure out how to handle the British outbreak of H7. We held a meeting of our editorial board (Ha, ha), and decided that while covering it at first was OK due to the possibility of two strains mixing, it isn't going to cause a pandemic, so it is not something we plan to spend a lot of time linking, too.Crofsblogs notes the same..."No news is bad news." The minister for Health in Punjab is going to be very unpopular with local chicken farmers. He said while there was no bird flu there, people still shouldn't eat chicken.An anti-flu conference is scheduled for Bangkok.Monroe County, WI is making local preparations for the bird flu.
Louisiana is doing the same thing....however, given their hurricane experience, they have an odd perspective.
The health department has been working on bio-terrorism and infectious disease practices. It will conduct an exercise Aug. 23 in Brodhead, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies and Monroe Clinic. The department will set up a fake clinic and call on the state's Interim Pharmaceutical Stockpile, a strategy to purchase, store and distribute pharmaceuticals to hospitals and local public health departments.
It's not like it's going to be a huge wave that's going to wash over us like Katrina, but you need to be alert and you need to be aware that there's a possibility."A letter to the editor in Bangladesh urges the goverment to be proactive on the bird flu.They are also preparing in Northwest Arkansas.ProMed on England, and a report on birds from Germany.
Promed with a story on bird smuggling in Vietnam. It is clear that smuggling and migratory birds both play a role, and smuggling may have a larger effect than originally suspected. This is important, since (as mod notes below) it effects bird vaccination programs.
If the above report is correct -- and there is no reason to doubt it -- it is clear that Vietnam will have to consider a regular poultry vaccination policy to protect itself. Los Angeles (San Pedro) Harbour is one of the largest container traffic ports in the world. One must wonder how many containers have come through it in the past 12 months with hidden chicken parts. If they have, so far we have been fortunate, as have other Pacific-facing ports in the Americas.Effect Measure on Harvard developing a new way to synthesize Tamiflu.
April 26 Flu Update
Nick Zamiska is in today's Wall Street Journal with a story that some have been watching for...is there undereporting of cases in China? The story says that local governments may not have reported human cases to the Central Government.
Local health officials in China have failed to report possible humanNature has a computer simulation out today--the upshot...no stopping the bird flu.Reuters has a slightly more optimistic report on this study.
cases of bird flu to the central government, according to a person
familiar with the matter, raising the possibility that some officials
may be concealing suspected cases and that the death toll in China is
higher than the official tally of 12.
Their findings, reported in the journal Nature, suggest household prophylaxis, along with stockpiling vaccines and immunising children early, would have a significant impact. "Put those two measures together and you can get an almost two-thirds reduction in illness rates," Ferguson said.A Macedonian man is being tested for the bird flu.Three potential cases are being tested in India, too.Pakistan says 57 suspected human cases are negative.Birds have flu in Britain, but it appears to be H7.More culling and positive tests in Bali. More avian outbreaks--bird flu reported in the Ivory Coast.Recombinomics notes that the Ivory Coast is on a flyway that leads to Europe and North America.Educational column written by UN on next pandemic, run here in South Africa.KFC is putting a sticker on all its food to help ward off bird flu fears.
The small stickers are being put on the lid of every bucket of chicken that KFC sells in the U.S.
The seal is a pre-emptive campaign assuring customers that the chicken is "rigorously inspected, thoroughly cooked, quality assured."
"While it doesn't specifically mention avian flu, for deliberate reasons, it reassures our customers that our food is perfectly safe," said Jonathan Blum, a spokesman for Yum Brands Inc., the parent of KFC.
A Nigerian state has set a budget to fight the bird flu.The University of Tennessee is making bird flu plans.The US has donated personal protective equipment to Vietnam.The Wisconsin AgSec is pushing for a registration program, and he says bird flu is a good reason why (it strikes me that this is exactly the kind of rudimentary data gathering people should do in the pre-crisis period).Another interesting local article on the preparations in Woodstock, Canada.The Magical Mystery Flu Tour is now in Louisiana, where the usual messages were delivered.Recombinomics says that bird flu could be migrating through Kazhakstan, a small thing that could indicate migration toward Western Europe and North America.Effect Measure on a new blog--on local pandemic planning in King County, WA.Another intersting Effect Measure article. The CDC is looking for personal data on people who travel, they say so they can contact people if a pandemic breaks out and someone on their flight might have been the carrier. Might sound reasonable enough, but everyone, from ACLU to the airlines, is objecting.ProMed on Afghan, Russian and Bali news reported yesterday here.Clearly, the flu will be no fun--Hawaii says in a pandemic, hugging and kissing will have to be limited.
April 18 Flu Update
A new country hit---The Sudan reports one human and five bird cases.A 21M, a Chinese migrant worker, is critically ill with bird flu. CIDRAP on China and the Sudan.ProMed on China and Sudan, and a world overview.
Vietnam poster educates on thorough cooking of chicken.
The H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread to 20 new countries in just 6 weeks, Nabarro said. "We think it probably went into Cote D'Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, in the past few days," he said. [So far, the outbreak in Ivory Coast remains to be confirmed; see further also about suspected outbreaks in Sudan, Africa's largest country. - Mod.AS]Recombinomics on the Sudan.Whatever happened to the migratory bird debate...the EU's Food Safety group issued a statement that settled the whole thing.
"It's a most extraordinarily rapid movement that we have seen," he told the conference. The virus seems to be carried partly by the poultry trade and partly by migrating birds, Nabarro said.
According to the AHAW Panel, some species of wild birds (mainly waterfowl such as ducks and swans) are definitely carrying H5N1 and are considered to be responsible for its introduction in the EU. There is increasing evidence that H5N1 can be present in several species of wild birds (e.g. ducks, sparrows, swans) without them showing clinical signs. There is therefore a high probability that the virus could be carried over long distances by wild birds (especially migratory birds).Paul Wolfowitz says $500M has been set aside at the World Bank to help the bird flu fight, citing potential economic disaster.Late last year I got some emails from An American living in the Czech Republic...and I fully understood the fear that you could get trapped in a foreign country, unable to travel home. Britain is now sending similar messages to its expat community.Yesterday, countries were saying that they wondered if they could ever be H5N1 free...yet Indonesia says it will be bird flu free and is winning the battle.India is continuing its flu control efforts.International experts are travelling to Vietnam to learn how to fight the bird flu.Very odd Nigerian fact sheet on bird flu.CIDRAP on yesterday's report about healthcare workers staying home in a pandemic.A market study says the flu therapy market is being driven by fear and a constrained market.Effect Measure on the loss of wetlands, how it relates to the flu, and how it may drive birds closer to people.Roche revenues up 61% over Q1 05.$1million was invested in a green vaccine process.ABC has unveiled is top secret sweeps project....A BIRD FLU MADE FOR TV MOVIE! It will have to work to be as good as the CBC version.
April 16 Flu Update
Last night, we ran the WaPo story on the US pandemic plan. Suffice it to say its all over the news today, with not much variation. Until we see more, I'm going to avoid running repetitive stories.Pakistan has its third outbreak since the beginning of April.ProMed on Pakistan (second story on this link).ProMed with yesterday's Danish news (good) and Egyptian news bad (death).ProMed with OIE---Germany (59 cases in wild birds), UK surveillance plans and the Ivory Coast.The Ivory Coast confirms dead birds not H5N1. A Philly-area company has seen its fortune soar on a novel and promising vaccine approach.
In East Africa, a doc answers questions--including about tourism.This article is a bit less reassuring---the "full scale" of the threat to East Africa.In India, flu has hit small farmers the hardest.Following a cull of 300,000 birds, flu is said to be under control in Gaza.
"We are very excited about Novavax's approach," said Terry Tumpey, senior microbiologist at the CDC, which is working with more than a dozen smaller companies on new technologies to narrow the time it takes to make an avian-influenza vaccine.
Novavax has a different way of making flu vaccine, using virus-like-particle technology (VLP) that extracts protein genes from influenza virus and turns them into particles that mimic the virus and trick the immune system into creating antibodies.
The recombinant particles can be customized into a vaccine in about two to three months, instead of the six to nine months it takes to create a conventional flu vaccine in chicken eggs.
In Afghanistan, WAPO reports that "plucky" (they should be ashamed of themselves) women are leading the fight against the flu.From Delaware, consensus that small business would be hit the hardest, yet few are ready. Includes a funeral director showing off his protective equipment.The Royal Brunei Armed Forces conducted a desktop pandemic exercise.
"Now we know what to do about this new disease. We wash and boil eggs before eating them, we keep the pens clean and change the soil," said Abida, one of 300 widows in the Kabul district of Charai Qamber who raise poultry at home, with chicks and training provided by CARE International.The Health Director in Pueblo, CO, says that education is the key to fighting the bird flu.
Effect Measure with a press release from the American Fire Fighters, showing they get the flu risk--and what should be done about it.
April 15 Flu Update
Quiet Holiday weekend. Have a good Easter.Apparently, President Bush is ready to sign a pandemic plan. WaPo has the story. We can digest later, but it appears to include some strong actions. (This is a must read)
Helen Branswell is back again with another must read. The seminal question is this: its been 10 years since H5N1 was discovered...no pandemic yet. Why? Does it mean it won't happen? (Branswell can even make a "no one knows" story interesting).
The Treasury Department is poised to sign agreements with other nations to produce currency if U.S. mints cannot operate. The Pentagon, anticipating difficulties acquiring supplies from the Far East, is considering stockpiling millions of latex gloves. And the Department of Veterans Affairs has developed a drive-through medical exam to quickly assess patients who suspect they have been infected.
"I think that the best answer is that we do not understand the rules under which influenza pandemics form," says Taubenberger, the American scientist who led the team that found and sequenced the 1918 Spanish flu virus.
"And therefore we don't actually know if there are biological constraints limiting particular strains and particular subtypes, that they either can or cannot adapt to humans and cause pandemics," Taubenberger, chief of molecular pathology at the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, explains in an interview.
Here's a hint of things to come. A story in Scotland complains that anti-virals produced there are being shipped to other countries---even though Scotland has a shortage.They're still coloring Easter Eggs in Switzerland, despite bird flu fears.Qatar reports 6,000 negative tests on birds.Northern Ireland is thinking about what it will do to fight bird flu in prisons.Scottish columnist with rambling opus on bird flu. Officials from Kodiak AK returned home from a flu summit.A Dr. in Bahrain told people there that hot Middle Eastern summers would kill the bird flu virus.Governor Rendell of Pennsylvania has told the poultry industry that their leadership is preparing the state for the bird flu.Another warning on illegal Internet Tamiflu.Guernsey says it has enough Tamiflu for 20,000 people.ProMed with a set of OIE reports.ProMed on the suspected (and now negative) Danish case.
April 11 Flu Update
Sorry we're late today. Things seemed to conspire against me (including there being a huge amount of news)....A 41F in Southern China is being tested for bird flu after reporting with symptoms.A poultry worker in Indonesia is sick with the bird flu.There's also a 12th case in Egypt.An additional non-fatal human case in Azerbaijan has been identified retrospectively.CIDRAP with the news from around the world.CIDRAP looks at FAO reports, with an eye on the situation in Myanmar.Locals says dead sparrows in Japan are unlikely to have bird flu.Seven polutry farmers in India have committed suicide because of bird flu impact on business.Perhaps today's biggest news...New Scientists is questioning how Britain drew samples to develop negative tests on birds there, calling into question the extent of bird flu in the UK.Effect Measure blog the New Scientist story.
At the same time, the British papers are full of the news that the bird died elsewhere and floated to the UK, making it a "one off" occurence.Here's a new perspective....wetlands restoration and its role in the bird flu.Anthony Fauci on MSNBC tries to inoculate (sorry) the public against a strong reaction to the first time an H5N1 bird is found in the US.UN warns against a growing complacency in Asia.The US begins to study low dose vaccines.USA Today looks ahead to the day when bird flu is found in US, and predicts that poultry sales will take a hit. Article talks about cooking chicken and about industry protection to the bird flu.Classic USA Today Factoid collection.This story runs every two weeks it seems. "EU says Europe fully prepared for bird flu."A Singapore based company continues to take its flu test to market.
Reuters on Chinese chicken markets...suffice it to say that the locals (like many people will daily exposure to a risk) are less worried than you'd think.
Same for Indonesian farmers....
A woman who runs the tiny convenience store next to the feed depot by the market's exit feels the same way. "The chickens aren't afraid, so why should we be?"
"If I die from bird flu, that is my destiny. But if I have to wear shoes, gloves and masks, my work becomes slow and my impatient customers will go somewhere else," he said while cleaning the guts of a chicken with his bare hands. "If that happens, I'll be dead," said the 28 year-old Jamal, who has worked at a market itn a Surabaya slum for a decade.Report on how the bird flu has hit the Polish Poultry Industry.IMF predicts major impact on world economy if pandemic hits. Great descriptive phrase: "Low probability, high impact."Russian scientists say they are developing an oral flu vaccine.The Scottish executive says it will not release any more flu results until the end of the week.As things quiet down in France, the country eases flu rules.Brazil is announcing new bird flu measures.Toronto says it would vaccinate all residents against bird flu, but probably after the first wave hits.
Scotland was going to crack down on noisy, annoying seagulls, but now won't since they are afraid their volunteers will get bird flu.A Maryland health educator says bird flu is serious, but no reason to panic (I swear, when anyone says it is time to panic, it will be my lead story).In Fort Morgan, CO, local health officials discuss quarantines and other pandemic responses.Algeria is producing Tamiflu.
The BBC looks back at how Germany reacted to its first H5N1 bird.A while ago we had a story on a study that said even an imperfect flu vaccine would help fight a pandemic. CIDRAP has a good analysis of that idea.
"A moderately effective vaccine would work if you could get it into enough people," said Poland, who directs the Mayo Vaccine Research Group and Program in Translational Immunovirology. "This current vaccine, if we used the whole world manufacturing capacity, offers enough doses for somewhere around 37.5 million people. So that's not an answer." He added that it may be necessary to make more than one vaccine, given the different clades (families) of H5N1 virus that have emerged.
Poland also said no one knows how contagious the next pandemic virus will be. "My understanding is that the estimated R number for the 1918 pandemic was right around 3," higher than the maximum of 2.4 used in the study, he said. "You wonder now if we truly have a novel subtype that's easily transmissible, given the travel we have, if we wouldn't have higher numbers. The average family is bigger than two people."
Effect Measure looks at Britain's high level dispute over the pandemic.
ProMed summarizes worldwide OIE reports.
The infected swan is being labeled an "isolated case."Maybe. But highly improbable. And if I were a resident of the UK I would much rather authorities erred on the side of caution than on the side of optimism.
April 9 Flu Update
A month after finding the flu, Niger begins to cull.ProMed with 3 reports from around the world.Conservationists say that bird flu is giving wild birds a bad name.
Because the role of migratory birds is a very obvious one, it's often very tempting to say that migratory birds are bringing the disease," Robert Hepworth, executive secretary of the Convention on Migrating Species, told Reuters.More from Britain, where it is safe to say this week's cabinet document release has caused a shockwave (combined with the arrival of the flu). Note how they plan to deal with transport problems, one of Osterholm's bigger concerns.
"Migratory birds have been involved of course, but the actual evidence of migratory birds spreading this disease across continents on a large scale is very patchy."
There are also reports that off-duty firefighters and retired lorry drivers will be pressed into service to ensure deliveries of essential food supplies in the event of a pandemic.
Who's to say they will show up for work?I know from time to time people in the flu blogosphere are accused of scare-mongering. Isn't this statement from Britain's scientific authority equally bad--sure of something he doesn't know?
In an odd counterpoint, the British Tory party is distancing itself from an MP who ridiculed the idea bird flu could hit humans.A British vet objects to the Times calling UK response to bird flu "sloppy."The Scottish First Minister is defending the government's response.Finally, the Queen is taking action to protect her birds. (via Crofsblogs).More on the new methods to develop vaccines, beyond eggs.Bird flu to be a factor in holding up the development of the Asian economy.
Sir David King said that it was “totally misleading” to suggest that a global flu pandemic in humans was inevitable. His attempt to ease public concern coincided with the leak of documents detailing government plans to deal with a widespread outbreak of a human form of the virus.