Saturday, July 29, 2006

July 29th Flu Update

113 people are now suspected of having bird flu in Thailand. I sense a need for caution here...this would be the fastest ramp up of the virus if true, but it seems like it might be panic. Thailand says it is not "worrisome."

The ministry said 75 suspected patients were in Phichit, 14 in Sukhothai, five in Kanchanaburi, three in Nakhon Sawan, three in Suphan Buri, two each in Bangkok, Phitsanulok, and Phetchabun and one each in Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Nayok, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Maha Sarakham, Uthai Thani and Uttaradit.

2,000 chickens in Laos died of H5N1 in the Mekong Valley, based on government reports.

The controversey over the Indonesian samples--unreleased by the government there--continues unabated. Declan Butler weighs in to say that not only have no human isolates been shared, but also no avian isolates until very recently.

Experts say that without thorough genetic sequencing of bird viruses from the area it is difficult to tell whether the virus is mutating, or how the human cases correspond to birds in the area. There have been some human viruses found in Java that so far have no obvious avian counterparts: perhaps simply because matching strains in birds have not been sequenced, or perhaps not.
Effect Measure comments on this. Note the following if you're ready for a shock:

(from original article): The Jakarta teams alone have discovered an average of 24 previously unknown infected locations a week between January and May. "The community surveillance system is starting to work," says Roeder.

(Revere) You read that right. Not 24 new infected locations in all. 24 infected locations a week over five months! The place is a f***ing (edit mine) bird flu fermentation vat and they are withholding sequences and isolates?

ProMed has it as well. Note the mod comment.

A report says GSK alone could produce 1 billion doses of its new flu vaccine.

Minnesota is buying Tamiflu under the federal program.

Hong Kong is now banning poultry imports for 14 days after an outbreak, not 21.

WaPo on a gateway for getting flu into Southeast Asia....illegal bird smuggling out of China.

As bird flu continues to spread across the Eastern Hemisphere, international health experts warn that illegal trade in poultry, poultry products and other birds is often the primary cause.

Japanese researchers are now doing bird flu testing on monkeys.

The experiment could shed light on aspects of the infection mechanism of the viral strain that remain a mystery, and pave the way for a human vaccine, the researchers said.

"The highly virulent H5N1 strain virus could kill mice and chickens when they were infected with it but it remains unknown what exactly would happen for monkeys," Kazumasa Ogasawara, a Shiga professor, said.

"Monkeys have immune system cells akin to those of humans, so the research should also be useful in devising measures against infection in humans," he said.

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