Friday, September 29, 2006

September 28 Flu Update

Some worthwhile stuff today in the flu blogosphere.

WHO says that the bird is mutating, splitting into groups, and becoming resistant to anti-virals. Of course, this is the bad's most long-term significant story.

However, the virus has now been shown to mutate like seasonal flu viruses that require new vaccines every year. "We are going to have to come to the realization that these viruses are genetically variable," Perdue said. "The vaccines that we have predicted to be protective today may not be protective a year from now."

The two most effective anti-viral drugs currently in use are also in danger of losing their potency, according to influenza experts.

The sister of a bird flu casualty from earlier this year in Indonesia also has the bird flu.

First, with winter coming (frost on my windshield this AM), WHO is noting that the chances for a mutation of H5N1 are increasing. Why? Because H5N1 and the widespread seasonal flu could mix and cause a new, more transmissible H5N1.

Also, yesterday's story on the recreation of the Spanish flu is all over the place. Very interesting stuff. Here's NPR's take.

Revere @ Effect Measure has read the paper and this is a must read, as always. As it relates to H5N1, here is the key excerpt (emphasis is mine):

So far it appears the full 1918 genome is needed to produce the catastrophic response we associate with 1918 H1N1 and the current H5N1 subtype. We have yet to discover what parts of the 1918 virus are mirrored by current strains of H5N1 now circulating in many areas of the world in birds, with sporadic cases in humans, and incomplete knowledge of other possible reservoirs. It is possible that these virulence factors of 1918 are all present, given the clinical picture in humans. The question would then shift to those factors which govern the transmissibility of the virus from bird to human and human to human, since H5N1 currently is not easily transmitted to people as the 1918 virus was.

Helen Branswell on board, too. She notes that the lessons learned might help to study other immune system over-reactions.

CIDRAP also has this story. Interesting--notes (of course) that more study is needed, but also that perhaps a therapy could be developed that modulates the response of the immune system.

ProMed reports that China has finally shared the isolates from the Qinghai outbreak. This is important and very helpful, but as the mod notes, whether it is a true breakthrough in practice remains to be seen.

WHO experts also say that better diagnostics are needed for the bird flu--and if you're going to try to contain it, truer words were never spoken.

ProMed rounds the latest Indonesian death.

The economic toll for bird flu in Asia for 2003-2004 was $10B.

The UK held a bird flu summit.

A company in Britain is packaging pandemic treatment services for business.

A seminar in Cedar Rapids, IA, was designed to help business prepare for the bird flu.

After vaccinating 54.4 millon poultry, Vietnam says bird flu is under control.

Still, Vietnam notes the disease in neighboring countries and takes precautions.

Sign of the times: the FDA issues guidlines for developing cell-based vaccines.

Dr. Nancy Cox of CDC has won the Federal Employee of the Year award. She is an influenza expert.

The University of Alberta is doing a survey on pandemic awareness that has struck at least one observer as bizarre.

New England wildlife officials are preparing to fight the bird flu--just in case.


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