Sunday, December 10, 2006

December 10 Flu Update

AP story on the "disappearance" of the bird flu.

Bird flu has hit quails in South Korea, according to a published report. I am not sure if the disease has infected this species before, but perhaps others will know.

Effect Measure on the spat over the name of the Fujian-like flu virus.

So WHO now wants to take another look at the international conventions for naming influenza viruses (for an explanation of the current system, see your entry for at The Flu Wiki), prompted by this episode.

Bloomberg on vaccine companies racing to find a vaccine for the bird flu.

The Swiss are happy with their bird flu vaccination program.

Fla_Medic reviews Tamiflu, walking through the many sticky issues related to its use in a pandemic.

Tracking bird flu in Nigeria remains a challenge.

Bird flu gets Tabloid treatment in Britain--no, it was not brought here by space aliens!!


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Like many observers of the news, we have seen countless news articles over the last two weeks asserting or intimating that "bird flu has been halted" (ref: "Experts puzzle over halt of bird flu"). In my view, the news media talking heads got it wrong, dead wrong. The quail die-off in S. Korea in the last 48 hours proves this. I believe the reasons there is a lull in the world reports on the subject is many - for example, flu seasonal relationship in the hemispheres, avian migration plays a major part in the spread (i.e. simply give the migrating birds time to spread the H5N1 virus), mass poultry innoculations have masked the disease, and in many third world countries many of us suspect that thousands if not millions of deaths are being misdiagnosed, just to name a few good solid reasons.

My opinion ? The world is still on very thin ice. The virus continues to mutate, almost underground in its methods and peculiarities. It is a cauldron of misery waiting to unleash itself. Why do I think this - simple, there are too many cultural behaviors alone in the world that enable H5N1 viruses to mutate and intermingle with animal hosts. Until hundreds of millions of people in the third world countries stop co-habitating with and eating infected poultry, swine, cats, dogs, further mutation will continue. Extremely large gatherings of humanity. like in Saudi Arabia, or in the Vatican for that matter, will only enable further flu transmission. Makes perfect sense doesn't it ? Wulfgang doesn't need any advanced on-line internet degree to figure this out.

Indeed, it will only be when the internet and news media start seeing hugh spikes in influenza illnesses, coupled with high fatalities, will anyone actually know that the pandemic is upon us. I beieve a famous intergalactic person once said, "like a thief in the night". The tremendous power and craftiness of flu viruses to mutate, geography and national transparency reporting problems, makes it nearly impossible to predict a place, time and location in advance.

Think of the likelihood and behavior of the time leading up to an avian influenza pandemic, in terms analogous to an earth quake fault: you can't see it move, but move it does, fractionally, and at some point the stress event erupts and the damage to mankind and the environment wreaks havoc and destruction.

Having said all this, all of us should be glad that the drugmakers are rigorously researching various methods to develop a pre-pandemic vaccine. In my opinion, I don't care if they use adjuvants, live weakened viruses, or use dead H5N1 viruses - doesn't matter to me. Heck, use dead bat ears or frog testicles, but let's get the best, the fastest vaccine, develop mass manufacturing capability immediately, and get it stockpiled.



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