October 25 Flu Update
Readers Dave and John sent this along. The New York Times on the issue of respiratory protection, and how it could be our only line of defense against the flu.The UN is warning that a repeat of last winter's bird flu outbreaks in Europe is possible again.
``It is possible that a similar situation could occur in the approaching weeks with the migratory movement of wild birds from their northern breeding grounds,'' the United Nations agency said in the October edition of a newsletter published on its Web site. ``Eastern Europe and Caucasus region is at particularly high risk'' because of the higher density of backyard poultry there.South Korea is preparing to fight the bird flu this winter, and they are prepared to take strong measures.
If a case is reported, an area up to three kilometers (two miles) from the site will be quarantined and all birds that could have contracted the disease will be destroyed. Movements of birds from the area will be banned for at least 30 days.CIDRAP on how Vietnam might be a world model for how to fight the bird flu.
After responding to its 2004 outbreaks mainly by culling infected flocks, Vietnam in 2005 became the first country to institute mandatory nationwide poultry vaccination.
In addition—and almost simultaneously—the national government banned poultry rearing and live-market sales in urban areas; restricted commercial raising of ducks and quail, which can harbor the virus asymptomatically; imposed strict controls on poultry transport within Vietnam and agreed to examine illegal cross-border trade; and launched an aggressive public education campaign that deployed radio and TV advertising, neighborhood loudspeaker announcements, and outreach by powerful internal groups such as the Women's Union and Farmers' Union.
The country also compensated farmers for birds that had to be killed—initially at 10% of the birds' market value, and now at 75%.
CIDRAP also on a story from a couple of days ago. Certain types of birds are likely to carry H5N1, and for that reason, could be used as "sentinels."
Monitoring for flu has started in Azerbaijan.A Scottish tour operator says that bird flu scares in the Mediterranean region have impacted its business.The quarantine has been lifted in Inner Mongolia.Wisconsin says it is ready for the bird flu.New Zealand is providing support to bird flu efforts in the region.Health officials in Terre Haute, IN are planning for a flu pandemic.For those who are into this...homeopathic flu remedies.
October 24 Flu Update
Novartis is reporting success on its cell-based vaccine.
When asked how long it takes to produce the cell-based vaccine, company officials told CIDRAP News by e-mail, "Currently, basically the same as egg-based except lead times are much shorter and start-up is more flexible."Russia has tested its bird flu vaccine on 240 volunteers. Effect Measure blogs a Branswell article about doing away with the handshake culture--for our own good.Revere also blogs the article we ran yesterday on WHO's warning to the world to step up the pace of vaccine production. Predictably and correctly, investments in public health are called for.East Bridgewater, MA is working on its bird flu plan. And, it starts from the right premise.
“In the face of an epidemic, East Bridgewater is on its own,” said resident Eric Averill, a member of the town's Pandemic Flu Preparedness Committee.
Note that everone else will have help. But East Bridgewater
is on its own. OK, that was a joke. But, it is a great Eastern tradition to have a citizen on the Town Committee.Zanzibar came across some eggs smuggled in from Tanzania. To keep the area free of avian flu, the eggs were incinerated.Schools in Muncie, IN are educating children and their families about pandemic flu.A seminar is also being held at Hutchinson Community College--Kansas.University of Colorado students and faculty are being urged to wash their hands--yes, to fight pandemic flu, but it is also the right thing to do.Indiana is holding a tabletop flu exercise this week.
“Since it is not possible to predict when a pandemic will occur or how severe it will be, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in making sure that the state is doing all it can to respond effectively when it does happen.”The ABC show "Fatal Contact" on bird flu is now on DVD.
October 22 Flu Update
Back on the mend. Bed rest, fluids, etc.Excellent story on the course of the bird flu as a news story. Once all the rage (right after Katrina), now off the headlines (as we know from our hit counts). Today? The disease is making its expected consistent progress.
Effect Measures blogs this story as well.
Now, with the disease still centered in Asia and the failure of migratory birds to spread the illness to Europe and North America, the H5N1 virus has dropped out of the media spotlight. The dearth of coverage has prompted some to think that the threat of a pandemic has passed.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
This year, a person dies from the disease about every four days, compared with about once every nine days last year, according to World Health Organization data. Of the 109 confirmed human cases of bird flu this year, 73 have been fatal. That's up from 97 cases and 42 deaths in all of last year.
As long as this viral stew continues to bubble away in China, southeast asia, the Middle East and Indonesia we face the real possibility it will change character to make human beings an efficient new host for the virus to carry out its only function, make copies of itself.China says it has inoculated all domestic fowl in Inner Mongolia.The Swiss have become the first country to buy GSK's pre-pandemic vaccine. It is supposed to have 80% protection, and prime the immune system prior to a perfectly matched strain being developed. It is yet another strategy to buy time for the only perfect solution--a strain-specific vaccine.Reader Wulfgang pointed me to this story--the release of a GAO report on preparation for bird flu in the Department of Defense. I haven't read it, but the report appears to indicate that the preparations are moving along, there is still work to be done in accountability and communications.Here's a link to the full report.There are flood waters in Thailand, and people are being warned to spray disinfectant to help to guard against many things, including bird flu. How waterborne is bird flu, anyway.This story from Cyprus says Europe is preparing for the bird flu---and that nations supposedly hvae enough Tamiflu for 20-30% of their population.Bahrain reports that Japan is working on curing the bird flu.Eskimos in remote Alaska knew something important was going on when government officials started showing up. The village is in the flight path of migratory birds.
Sorry for the quiet blog. Normally, I update the blog at night or early in the AM, but I have a bad cold and have been trying to get some rest. Hope to have an update this PM.
October 15 Flu Update
An 11 year old boy died of bird flu in Indonesia.ProMed on this case.No matter what the US Government thinks, Laura Billings in the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that we probably won't stay home during a flu pandemic. Switzerland announces some bird flu restrictions--including special ones for domestic birds living near lakes.Mississippi paper writes on what happened in 1918 in their area--including a debate Revere would like on whether to release case counts for the local area.
Effect Measure on CDC joining the blogosphere.
"Official information as to the number of cases of influenza occurring in the Mississippi Coastal District has been withheld heretofore because of the fear that a certain portion of the population might be tempted to become careless if on a certain day the number of cases reported by physicians should happen to be low.
"It is now believed, however, by health authorities that the people in general have by this time become sufficiently convinced as to the need of precaution, and that it is therefore safe to give figures."
October 12 Flu Update
The 20 year old man who was recently noted as a flu case in Indonesia has died. Note the presence of a potential cluster, and false negatives as well.
Interesting article on a new approach to fighting bird flu that is less reactive than waiting until the pandemic hits. It is called "prime and boost" and some University of Rochester researchers say it has promise. Helen Branswell reports.Revere notes this study, and its modest results, and reminds people to be modest about it. He also answers the question of why not just vaccinate people before the pandemic hits? What could it hurt? Here is part of his answer.
The man's brother died with bird flu symptoms on Sunday but due to lack of testing there has been no positive confirmation he had the disease.
A third sibling, a 15-year old girl, is currently being treated at Hasan Sadikin hospital.
"She is doing alright, no fever. We are still looking into whether she has the avian influenza virus. The third testing will be conducted today," Yusuf told Reuters by phone.
Two previous tests have found negative trace of bird flu. Relatives of the three siblings are also being tested.
Second, when you vaccinate tens of millions of people a certain small number of people die from causes unrelated to the vaccine but in close proximity to getting it. That's because people drop dead with some regularity in any given week and if tens of millions are being vaccinated, some of them will drop dead around the time they get vaccinated. Those kinds of events, for a disease that no one yet has, is pretty bad PR and could severely damage a vaccine program for when it's really needed.
In my view, that's an important answer. I doubt, in fact, that we would have the political will to vaccinate anyone before an actual crisis was present. Conservative, anti-government people harnessing the Swine Flu story (or myth, you choose) would simply prevent it.NIH summarizes the news that will be presented at a conference which started yesterday in Toronto. Includes info on two "novel" vaccine approaches that have been publicized, including prime and boost.Effect Measure writes on the US plan (or, as Revere says "non-plan") that has been cited here in the past few days. Post is critical of the plan and recent statements about it. As always, Revere believes the best prep is to rebuild the nation's public health infrastructure. (It is crazy, but it just might work).
Financial traders in London are going to hold a bird flu exercise.The FAO has founded a crisis management center for bird flu.CIDRAP on the FAO center (or is it centre?)Local officials in Lansing, MI, are doing bird flu testing.Luther College (IA) is preparing for a potential pandemic.Los Angeles held a bird flu simulation, where the pandemic started in LA and spread across the US from there. Problems were revealed.
But even as experts worked to develop emergency plans, they warned that little money has been provided and there is still confusion over the roles of federal, state and local governments during a pandemic. "(We) have a tremendous amount of confusion over roles - which leads to paralysis of action in many instances, or overlap, or strategies that just don't get completed because no one knows who in fact is supposed to do exactly what," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.A simulaton will also be held in Australia.In Ireland, contract talks with GPs have stalled, impacting bird flu prep.A CDC research grant has made its way to the Research Triangle in North Carolina.China is doing a second trial of its human flu vaccine.Cheesehead pandemic planning--Wisconsin works with poultry and wild bird "stakeholders"FAO report (via ProMed) has an OIE report from Sudan--apparently, six outbreaks have occurred there.