Friday, May 19, 2006

May 18 Flu Update

WHO says its unlikely the Indonesian cluster was H2H, citing the family gathering as a possible cause, not commenting on the mother being sick prior to the gathering.

ProMed on Indonesia and Egypt (as reported elsewhere).

More ProMed on Indonesia, not ruling out, not ruling in.

Recombinomics says there are three family members from the cluster who are showing symptoms, though mild. He sees this as more evidence of H2H.

Thanks to the alert reader who sent me this. Deep in this story, there's news that the H5N1 may be found in pigs in Indonesia, which introduces a whole new player to the mutation game.

``We have not yet found any evidence of the ongoing transmission among chickens in that area,'' Omi said. ``That's why we want to know what is happening there.''

Ten of 11 pigs in the district where the infected people lived were found to have avian flu antibodies in their blood, Indonesia's Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono told reporters in Jakarta today.

The presence of antibodies is an indication of an existing or previous infection. Antibodies were also found in the blood of chickens and ducks by a national laboratory in Bogor, and confirmatory tests on the animal samples are under way, Apriantono said. He didn't give more details on the location of the animals.

``If the virus is in pigs, that would be a major concern,'' Ton Schat, a professor of virology and immunology at Cornell University, said in an interview today.


ProMed has this story, too, with a request for lab confirmation before too much is made of it.

This also has the potential to be important. ProMed has the news that there are reports of a Chinese Goose Farm located near Qinqhai Lake, with obvious implications for the spread of the bird flu since last year.

Egypt has its sixth fatality from H5N1.

Here's a guy we haven't seen before--the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security. He says most states are not ready for "inevitable" bird flu.

More from the US government--Dr. Fauci says the flu is as likely to burn itself out as start a pandemic.


US is getting started on its goal of testing 75,000-1000,000 migratory birds in Alaska.

Canada is doing a similar survey.

CIDRAP says who experts are in Indonesia to inspect the cluster.

FAO makes a point that it feels compelled to pop in and make once in a while--they think the most logical place to fight the flu is among animals.

Denmark has H5N1 on a poultry farm.

ProMed notes this comes despite great efforts by the Danes to prevent it. First case in a domestic fowl (plenty in wild birds).


Bird flu is now shown to be reducing tourism in Asia.

The Bird flu is not in Michigan yet, but the state was showing off its shiny new flu lab.

There's been some talk about this already....Nature writes about the SARS experience and whether curtailing air travel would help. Answer: once there are a sufficient number of cases, not much will help.

Businesses in Charlotte, NC are warned about the bird flu.

A statewide flu summit will be held in Montana on May 23.

Also, a local planning summit was held in Monticello, IN.

CIDRAP on the fired Romanian vet.

Recombinomics calls for the immediate release of the Indonesian sequence.

Excellent Effect Measure post, covering all kinds of things. Says weight of evidence is on Recombinomic's side--there probably is limited H2H going on in Indonesia. Why no healthcare workers have gotten sick is a good question....also muses on Henry Niman, Marc Siegel, and the world energy crisis (:-). Must read.

ProMed with another interesting post on the migratory bird debate. Note that some people have gotten sick swimming in water infected with bird dung, which is apparently a fish farming practice.

At present, a new theory is gaining ground that the outbreak in wild birds near Qinghai Lake may be linked to fish farms around the lake. As early as 1998, scientists cautioned that human health hazards like an influenza pandemic could arise from the practice of bringing together fish farms with farm livestock. Some researchers say that bird flu may be spread by using chicken dung as feed in fish farms, a practice now routine in Asia.

According to Le Hoang Sang, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City's Pasteur Institute, Chicken excrement is one of the main carriers of the H5N1 virus, which can survive in a cool and wet environment for a month and slightly less if in water."

In January 2006, a 9 year old boy died from bird flu in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh after he caught it while swimming in water in which the bodies of infected poultry had been thrown. BirdLife International, a global body for bird protection groups in more than 100 countries, is calling for an investigation into the possibility that the fish in these ponds, which are fed with chicken dung, may be the means by which the new strain of avian influenza, H5N1, is being spread. It says that outbreaks of H5N1 have occurred this year at locations in China, Romania, and Croatia where there are fish farms.

US AID official says when it comes to bird flu, little things mean a lot.

A flimsy bamboo fence, a little ditty about washing hands, a mat to wipe the feet on -- simple and inexpensive measures can go a long way to slow the spread of bird flu, a U.S. aid official says.

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