Monday, November 06, 2006

November 6 Flu Update

Effect Measure on the question of whether the flu must be less virulent as it gets less transmissible.

USA Today a story on bird flu in two countries today. First Indonesia..

Indonesia only threw off the yoke of dictatorship in 1998, holding its first free national election in 2002. One of the main objectives of the new democratic government has been to decentralize power.

That has meant that Indonesia hasn't been able to mount a strong, centralized assault against avian influenza in poultry and humans. Instead, it's fighting an outbreak-by-outbreak battle. Just last month, four people died.

and then Vietnam.

The soup, made with raw blood, is a traditional source of protein revered for its supposed strength-giving property. Now its consumption is discouraged, along with other traditional practices, such as raising chickens in cities and selling them at live-animal markets, because of the risks of exposure to the deadly H5N1 virus.

"What we're talking about is trying to change behavior people have embraced for years," says Richard Brown, a World Health Organization epidemiologist in Hanoi.

Scientists in China are claiming to have isolated the gene that determines the virulence of bird flu.

Note here: Promed looks at the story from above, and adds some interpretation.

This is a significant piece of research indicating that a single amino acid substitution in the NS1 protein of H5N1 avian influenza virus disables the interferon response in infected chickens, a factor contributing to the pathogenicity of the virus. This observation does not necessarily confer enhanced vaccine potential, and significantly, the abstract does not claim this.

In Monticello, IN, they held a mass vaccination clinic in a public place--to test how it work if they had to do it under emergency conditions, such as smallpox or avian flu. In an absence of panic, it seemed to work smoothly enough.In Canada, HR professionals are advised on how to plan for a pandemic

The US has approved the use of firefighting foam to cull birds instead of gassing them and exposing workers to them more directly.

Rivers State, Nigeria, is planning a surveillance effort.

Migrating swallows arrived in a Thai town, and bird flu fears were raised.

The last lab analysis of surveillance in Azerbaijan showed no bird flu.

Tests are being conducted of a skin patch vaccine.

Roche is doing a product tie-in with a kids movie about penguins.

Generex is beginning human trials of its bird flu vaccine.


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Effective Measure points out a very important point. In several known areas of the globe, for example Indonesia, there are hundreds of thousands of people who die annually by pneumonia, or for other undiagnosed reasons. This could very well mean that the world really doesn't know how virulent H5N1 is, and WHO will not conjecture (at least publicly). But we have history to lead us closer to the truth. Today on BBC news, Prof John Oxford summarized the current situation best, by saying, " in 1917 the virus didn't seem to spread at all but within a year it exploded and killed 50M people. So there is a warning here. We cannot ignore a virus that has done that in the past". Dr. Michael Osterholm said also today in Toronto, "we don't know when or how bad the mortality will be, but a pandemic influenza is going to happen and it's going to be tough". Finally, as one astute reader in a blogsite said today, "get ready for the great Flunami".

Regarding the Monticello, IN drive-thru mass prophylaxis clinic, we are seeing more and more areas of the U.S. conducting these essential exercises. This is absolutely great. But as Revere points out - planning for a pandemic is an "exercise in community mobilization". We need many more volunteers across the nation to commit to participate before the time comes. The current major issue most communities face is "marginalized capacities", which are fancy words to mean extremely limited surge capabilities. This translates into potentially high fatality rates.



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