Thursday, November 02, 2006

November 2 Flu Update

Helen Branswell on a WHO report that says there is no guarantee that H5N1 will become less deadly if it transforms into a pandemic strain. This is a key point. The assumption has always been that it would be less deadly if it went pandemic because if the disease is too virulent it kills hosts before they can transmit the virus. Not to be a doomsayer, but if it did become a pandemic at 60% virulence, we're talking an event that could be significant in geologic time. Note: it didn't say it wouldn't be less virulent, just that it might not be.

There's no guarantee the H5N1 avian flu virus would become less deadly to people if it triggers a pandemic, a new report from the World Health Organization warns.

A group of eminent influenza scientists gathered by the WHO last month concluded there is no reason to believe that the virus, which kills roughly 60 per cent of people who become infected, would become any milder if it evolves to become a pandemic strain.

CIDRAP on WHO warnings that countries should NOT stockpile pre-pandemic vaccines because not enough is known about the requirements for this kind of vaccine.

China rejects the notion that there is a new flu strain in the country.

CNN Money reports that with the new strain, new therapy activity is expected to increase.

A deceased dog with bird flu was found in Thailand. More evidence of the disease creeping over into mammals.

This report tries to answer one of the key questions (in my mind) for bird flu. Not only is there no efficient human-human transmission, but there is really no efficient bird-human transmissions. WHY? (That's the key question). This reports says genetics are the answer.

More...outdated farming and sales techniques are the real culprits.

Here is the source report.

Here we go again....FAO officials speaking in China say migratory birds do not play a major role in the spread of H5N1.

Evidence indicates wild migratory birds play a minor role in the long-distance spread of the virus, he said, adding that the main causes of the deadly disease are the trade of poultry and poultry products.

Malaysia is increasing bird flu surveillance.

Nigeria "denies" presence of bird flu in country.

Bali now has the ability to conduct bird flu tests without sending samples out of the country.

Province in East China says it is now monitoring for bird flu "around the clock" (?)

Vietnam is establishing partnerships to continue the fight against the bird flu.

Washington County, OR, ran a bird flu drill.

Poinsett County, AR, has a pandemic flu program.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


One has the read the first Helen Branswell article several times to get the real message from the WHO scientists. Like a pendulum, the article starts out by saying there is no reason to believe that the H5N1 virus will become less virulent than the 60% mortality rate, if it becomes a pandemic strain. Then it concludes by saying that some models predict that the virus will be unable to even spark a pandemic, since its lethality is so great that gravely ill people (i.e. as in dead), do not transmit it. This begs the question that the virus so far has approximately 50 documented substrains, and is not just confined to humans. It spreads and kills many other species too, not just us hominoids, and the world has become a giant mixing bowl of reservoirs for this pest.The answer to the puzzle is somewhere in between the two extremes I suspect. Bare in mind, that the great pandemic of 1918 had a suspected mortality rate of just 5% and the final tally amounted to greater than 50M people killed world wide. With today's world population, it would not seem unreasonable to project 10X this fatality rate, just for a mild to moderate pandemic. I believe this is the real message - another warning: to not focus on fatality rate percentages, but zero in on the real world impact.

The genetic "predisposition" theory for being infected with this virus, is just that - a theory, just like the earth was once postulated to be flat, and that the sun rotated around the earth. The WHO proposes this idea based on too limited data, and suspects this is why A2H and H2H transmissions are rare. I believe this is scientific naivete and perhaps even faulty logic. The virus is constantly evolving and recombining as it seeks new hosts to survive, this is just an intermediate step in its evolution.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home