Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December 11 Flu Update

Dr. Webster and other experts were in Indonesia, and they had interesting things to say. First, the number of cases goes up each year, and second, vaccines are needed for all bird flu strains.

The H5N1 bird flu virus has undergone many changes since making its first known jump into humans in 1997 and vaccines must be manufactured to fight its major strains, experts said on Monday. While the virus remains largely a bird disease and does not infect people easily, the scientists at a conference on avian flu and other infectious diseases in Singapore warned against any complacency.

"What's worrying is there were more (human) cases in 2006 than 2004 and 2005. The problem is still with us," Robert Webster of the St Jude Children's Research Hospital in the United States told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference. "It's (H5N1) continuing to evolve and there are multiple lineages of this virus still out there. What cross-protection is there between these clades (strains) and sub-clades?"

Different report, same event...expect winter to bring more cases in Asia.

In counterpoint, China has announced no cases yet this winter.

Effect Measure on the story about the "weak point" of the flu virus that is all over the news. Revere points out that as you learn more, things don't always get clearer....

ProMed on a couple different things....first, the reports in South Korea, and second, the idea that the flu virus is slowing down...at least in animals. Note mod comment that says we will find out during the winter if the slowdown in animals is seasonal or perhaps a slowing of the panzootic.

US State Department website reports $434M pledge to bird flu effort by US.

The Republic of Ireland is buying 11.3 million Euros worth of Relenza.

Effect Measure on the article we ran yesterday on "What ever happened to bird flu" which ran on AP. Revere notes the many different headlines the story ran under, all of which underplayed the real warnings in the story.

Chicken sales fell in South Korea late last month on bird flu fears--but they are rebounding.

The bird flu in Quail is confirmed (South Korea).

CIDRAP on the "accord" about naming flu viruses.

A US university is joining with an Indian university to do bird flu research.


At 7:05 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Couple of quick comments and gut reactions to your articles.

Your Reuters article out of Singapore, captioned " Vaccines for all H5N1 flu strains crucial - experts", pretty much sums up the situation, through Dr. Robert Websters remarks, that "the avian flu virus still poses a substantial threat to humanity". The fact that it has evolved through five major changes since 1959 means it's around to stay, in my mind. In my view, add H5N1 into the same threat category as HIV and malaria, it may be impossible to eradicate it. I liked the comment from some unquoted experts at the conference who said - be "realistic, in the event of a pandemic, there simply wouldn't be enough vaccines or drugs for poorer nations". So, so, true. I would submit that it is not just the "poorer nations" of the world that would be in a pickle if a pandemic manifests itself, but many nations we classify as rich nations, would be in dire straits also. The fact is: 350M doses of flu vaccine capability per year, is only a very small fraction of world needs. Many families of the world would wish they had updated their last will and testaments if a pandemic broke out tomorrow. The H5N1 virus knows no borders or economic status in its mutations.

The thought that came to my mind when I read the ProMed article, which mentions the problem about virus information not being shared - is that there are no consequences or repercussions to nations or academics, for not doing so. If they don't want to do share critical information, well you guessed it, nothing seems to happen. Scientists or nations withholding this information is reprehensible. It's literally "every man for himself" in this dog fight. But then, that's the problem these days, nobody really holds anybody accountable for anything. The most anybody action, especially the UN and WHO, ever takes is to pencil whip or brow beat somebody or some nation in the press. Go figure...an old dog with no teeth.

And finally, let me roll out some realism on the subject. I have been given instructions to have my entire work unit's COOP pandemic plan developed and submitted in one week. Direct orders from Headquarters, Washington. They want a fully impementable plan in place by January 1st. This tells me that Revere is correct: it is manifestly untrue that bird flu has disappeared. Until I get the "all clear" signal from the boss man, the firing line remains hot for the Ol' Wulf.



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