Friday, May 12, 2006

May 11 Flu Update

Updates on the vaccine front today. French researchers say they have promising work on a bird flu vaccine.

Meanwhile, Helen Branswell is reporting that vaccine makers are actually finding it harder to make vaccine than they thought--and they thought it would be hard. (As always, Branswell is a must read).

The problem lies in the concentrations of hemagglutinin that manufacturers are getting when they grow the H5N1 vaccine prototype virus in eggs. Hemagglutinin is the protein on the virus's outer coat that a vaccine would teach the immune system to recognize and attack.

Dr. Klaus Stohr, the WHO's special adviser on pandemic flu vaccine, confirmed Wednesday that at a recent meeting in Geneva vaccine makers reported the H5N1 prototype virus produces roughly a quarter to a third of the hemagglutinin yield when compared to production runs with seasonal human flu strains.

Effect Measure gives an analysis of the vaccine news.

Speaking of vaccines, what if you only had enough for 10% of the population? (and you might). Sounds like a group exercise in a freshman philosophy class, but no, it is a serious question in Science magazine. Argument is for young people, since they have longer lives ahead of them....(my note, and are more afflicted by bird flu).

Djibouti has one human cases and three cases confirmed in birds, based on this ProMed account. (Bottom of article also reports a bird outbreak in the Sudan).

Note the mod comment:

Combined with a human case, it might signal the presence of a widely spread, established epizootic.

The Ivory Coast says the bird flu is under control.

Morocco says a suspected bird flu case tested negative.

ProMed also updates on Russia, Nigeria, China and Denmark.

Jackie Chan is doing public service announcements warning children about the dangers of bird flu.

Here are global report cards for national preparedness for a pandemic. US gets a C-.

Laurie Garrett, of the Council of Foreign Relations, was a consultant to Fatal Contact. A Pulitzer winner, here's what she said about the show.

"The film is very grim. But I don't think it is sensationalistic," Garrett told WebMD. "I didn't think they exaggerated, but it is a worst-case scenario. A virulent, highly contagious flu comes to America. There is no viable vaccine on tap. The drugs have limited or no efficacy. There are shortages of essential supplies and goods that become acute later in the epidemic."

A bird farm in Virginia has extensive precautions for visitors.

Transcript of a chat held in Kansas City on bird flu.

Pennsylvania has opened its pandemic preparedness website.

Here's a link to a site.

The City of Ottawa, Canada, has announced the "Are you ready" campaign.

Thunder Bay, ON also has a local campaign.

Congressional testimony says that if teleworking is required, Federal workers are behind the private sector in being ready to do it.

Midwest City, OK, has a bird flu plan (comments spurred by Fatal Contact, as were many similar comments by local officials across the US)

In Ireland, they have relaxed rules on pigeon racing.

Effect Measure notes that a South Carolina State Rep is proposing a $1,000 fine for violating a quarantine.

Partly due to bird flu, the price of fish is going up.

Recombinomics has a report on whether fertilizer might have caused a cluster of cases in Indonesia.


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