Saturday, December 02, 2006

December 2 Flu Update

President Bush's special assistant for biodefense gave a speech in Ravenna, OH.

"The best thing you can do is have a close, well-matched vaccine," Venkayya told those who attended. "It's the closest thing to a silver bullet."

China has promised the new WHO director that it will share samples in a quicker fashion. This dynamic will be interesting. On one hand, China will probably remain secretive. On the other, how much do they want to embarrass the woman who represents their first venture onto the UN stage.

The MA legislature is "mulling" bird flu $$.

The "When, not if" message is delivered in Chapel Hill, NC. Of course, that's the simplest question. There's a ton of uncertainty on when it will happen, and what it will entail.

Recombinomics claims that the two people who died in Indonesia had strains of bird flu that are different from those known to be carried in birds.


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


The recombinomics article about H5N1 genetic match failures, is another bit of evidence that this virus is slowly evolving and mutating. As time goes on, I don't think any of us will be surprised when future sequences point to even more suspect mammals, in addition to cats. It's just a matter of time.

The Chapel Hill article about preparations in North Carolina, hit the interest button on my dash board. I read a lot of these type community preparedness articles because they're quite interesting. Unfortunately, there appears to be two primary themed messages being communicated to the public regarding an avian pandemic threat and I believe it is confusing. And they are somwhat inconsistent. The first message is from food, agricultural and animal health industry experts who generally say that H5N1 is pretty much a poultry problem, and that risks associated with the virus sources and spread are confined to commercial chickens (huge factory farms), smuggled and wild birds. I believe this signals people to automatically click off their concern factor - poultry are a good source of cheap protein, and have the brains of a cricket, so why worry ? We have better things to do, like watching TV and eating twinkies.

The second message constantly promulgated in the press is from the federal planning czars, like the message from Rajeev Venkayya, Special Assistant to the President, and other experts, which is much more urgent and compelling: Prepare now for when the virus hits the U.S., it is imminent and may be severe, and there is a question on how soon a matched virus can be produced. This message causes people to really pucker up. The virus source in this case is most probably air travelers on an international flight from an infected country (think SARS).

These are two totally different messages in the news media which effect peoples awareness and preparation levels.


At 3:46 PM, Anonymous wayne said...

To wulfgang
I am afraid that I must disagree with you on what Rajeev Venkayya said in the article I read. He announced that the CDC would soon been releasing guidelines for States and cities to follow in case of a pandemic.I think this would help reasure people that they are not totally on their own.He also said that the virus is not yet spreading between humans efficientaly.
He also said that there was not going to be a vaccine during the first wave and this is a realistic statement.
Over all since nobody has a clue as to how this whole virus problem is going to run it's course I think his remarks were both reasuring and realistic.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...

Hi there Wayne;

Let me clarify a little. I was not referring to specifically to Venkayya's remarks, but more paraphrasing what he and Dr's Osterholm, Nabarro, Webster and many others seem to be saying collectively, in a larger context. I really believe when their messages get translated down to the local level, it often gets filtered and softened. Specifically, people have to realize that H5N1 infected birds, poultry and animals are only nature's incubators of the disease - of course, this is very worrisome. Poultry H5N1 problems are manageable by culling. However, the international traveler's are believed to be the real initial conveyors of the influenza pandemic. I have heard this many times in meetings, so I am not blowing smoke. Humans infected with H5N1 influenza problems will be our worst nightmare. The only remedy in the arsenal is anti-virals, and that is questionable.

I truly believe at the national level, there is no doubt in the scientific community that a pandemic will occur. I'm willing to bet everything I have on it. Too much going on behind the scenes.

I would be the first to agree with you that there is no major cause at this moment for alarm, since there is no openly authenticated human-human transmission cases. Venkayya's remarks reflected this.

Feel free to agree or disagree any time Wayne. The one thing in my entire life I hope I'm wasting my time on, is following the spread of this H5N1 virus and planning for a pandemic.


At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

A misunderstanding I suppose that's all.


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