Thursday, May 18, 2006

May 17 Flu Update

WHO has confirmed the Indonesian bird flu deaths in the Sumatra cluster....but wait, there's more.

In a day of fast-moving events, the WHO also said a caterer from Surabaya city in East Java had died of bird flu, while Indonesia's health ministry said local tests had confirmed a 12-year-old boy from Jakarta who died four days ago was infected with H5N1. Both cases are separate from the Sumatra case.
CIDRAP on the Indonesian situation...note this (emphasis added):

However, Hong Kong virologist Guan Yi told Reuters that the lag reported between symptom onset in the first victim and in the second wave of victims in the extended family was unusual.

"If they were all infected by the same source," Guan said, "their onset time [of illness] would have been closer. . . . They may have infected one another . . . but we have no evidence."

Recombinomics says a family barbecue is being positioned as the cause of the cluster--but the mother was sick two days before, according to his data.

A Romanian minister has taken the fall for the re-emergence of the virus there...he was ''sacked."

ProMed reminder that the human case there was negative.

A duck has been found H5N1 positive in Laos, their first positive case since 2004.

Omsk region of Russia has reported case...

and a bird smuggler is being investigated to see if he caused the outbreak.

This is short, but very interesting. One of the things Dr. Osterholm has been persuasive on is food--with just in time delivery, how will we move food during a pandemic? Apparently, grocery companies are being urged to think about a couple issues--note the phrase "home delivery."

The Harris County Health Board (Houston, TX), held a seminar to urge all schools in the country to prepare for the bird flu.

"Any of us who have any experience with young children know they are very efficient and effective transmitters of germs."


In the event of an outbreak, Love said, public health officials would have the authority to close schools, though such a decision would not be made lightly or in a vacuum.

Some studies have shown that even though closing schools can be disruptive, doing so at the outset of a pandemic could decrease the attack rate in the community by up to 33 percent.

Providing tools, guidance

"That's very significant," said Love. "Therefore, we ... are encouraging our schools and providing them with the tools and guidance they need to develop their plans to respond in a pandemic influenza."

New Zealand has upped its biosecurity to meet international standards.

An alternative paper in Richmond reminds readers that there is no assurance in a plan.

The IBM bird flu plan made Fast Company today.

Here's an additional article. The leader is Dr. Brilliant from Google, who also used to work at WHO. He's trying to apply open source technology to fighting the flu. The geek in me is interested in this.

HHS released a checklist for long-term case and other residential facilities, and how to deal with a pandemic.

The Ornithology lab at Cornell has been asked to do some research on the migratory birds and bird flu.

Even though no bird with the deadly A(H5N1) strain has yet been detected in North or South America, Cornell ornithologists have already pointed out that bird migration routes are "leaky" - they are broad pathways rather than narrow corridors, and birds are known to get lost frequently. Birds from Asia that breed in Alaska could be found elsewhere, such as along the U.S. Pacific coast.
But even if an infected bird landed in the lower 48 states, the poultry industry is probably safe.
"It's a whole lot easier to see someone smuggling an infected gamecock or parrot into the U.S. through Mexico or Canada," Kevin McGowan said, a research associate at the lab.

More from Cornell, as they get educated on the bird flu.

Indiana is preparing a cross-agency effort to fight the bird flu.

Mayo Clinic fact sheet on the bird flu....

Viruses are masters of interspecies navigation. Mutating rapidly and often grabbing the genetic material of other viruses, they can jump from animals to humans with a quick flick of their DNA. Sometimes, as in West Nile fever, the transfer occurs through an intermediate host such as a mosquito. But viruses can also make the leap directly.

Here's an interesting, practical perspective. If you did had Tamiflu during a pandemic, how would you get a kid to take it? Apparently, it tastes bad. (Been to that movie).

CIDRAP notes that tests show Flu Mist is more effective for children.

Breaking that law and counterfeit Tamiflu continue to be problems.

Effect Measure comments on Homeland Security's biosecurity system.

ProMed summarizes news seen elsewhere.

In this update:
[1] Europe, surveillance results, wild birds
[2] Romania (Brasov), commercial poultry farms
[3] Egypt
[4] Indonesia (Papua)
ProMed also has an OIE report from Sudan--confusing, but an apparently step back.

Recombinomics wonders if a novel cleavage site is present in recent Indonesian cases.

Recombinomics also wonders if swine might be involved in Indonesia.


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