Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 30 Flu Update

Most important flu story in some time. The Fujian variant of the disease appears to have taken over for other strains, indicating a virus that continue to evolve and change.

Offshoots of the Fujian variant were isolated in the 22 human cases of bird flu reported in China since last November, and the strain has sickened birds in Laos, Malaysia and Thailand, where it also infected people, the group notes.

An Eygptian woman who is said to have caught bird flu while slaughtering domestic chickens has died of the disease in Egypt.

CIDRAP on the death in Egypt.

Recombinomics has reports of what he feels are increasing numbers of hospitalized patients in Egypt.

Helen Branswell with what could be significant news on the flu virus. Though not H5N1 directly, it speculates on new doubts about the idea that the flu virus is constantly evolving to "outsmart" the human immune system.

A universal flu shot is targetting the stable portions of the flu virus.

Revere on the theory that flu victims can be cared for at home.

A committee in the Cayman Islands is working on a bird flu plan

Here's a new flu website...birdflusmart.com. It is designed to help people prepare for a pandemic.

The Times (UK) with an exhaustive Flu 101 on the virus to date.

Oregon is holding a statewide pandemic exercise.

Concordia University (Montreal) has formed a local pandemic planning committee.

FYI, Effect Measure is reprising some outstanding archived articles on the sceince behind the flu. Check here and here.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 29 Flu Update

GSK is talking to the British government about a countrywide vaccine, the first that has been discussed anywhere, to my knowledge.

The Department of Health said: “Pre-pandemic vaccines are one of a number of options we are considering. We already have a stockpile of 14.6 million treatment courses of antivirals, and we are stockpiling around 3.5 million doses of H5N1 vaccines. However, we continue to review our planning options, including pre-pandemic vaccines.

A Portsmouth, NH company is using handheld computers to help track the bird flu to the correct location.

Research from India shows that the bird flu that hit there was sensitive to Tamiflu--therefore, Tamiflu helped to prevent a wider spread of the disease.

Bird flu has been ruled out on a farm in Trinidad.

October 28 Flu Update

In Asbury Park, NJ, officials are comparing notes on the bird flu.

ProMed on the ostriches in Zimbabwe said to have bird flu. Note mod comment seeking confirmation.

USDA surveillance in Ohio reveals no bird flu among migratory birds.

CT has a pandemic awareness site.

Progressive college students blog the flu, with myspace style irreverence.

Recombinomics seeks more evidence, but says flu recombining predictably.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

October 27 Flu Update

Lots of people have been wondering about this....WHO will produce a report on the ethics of the bird flu and pandemic planning. CIDRAP reports. This is just chock full of sticky issues.

Effect Measure has an interesting post--a letter to Emerging Infectious Diseases that reminds readers that there is a subset that is particularly vulnerable to bird flu--pregnant women. Revere notes that we knew young people were especially susceptible, and pregnant women also have altered immune systems.

The Brookings Institution is doing a computer model of the economic impact of bird flu. On a worst case scenario:

That's approximately 330 billion dollars in lost economic output. McKibbin says as the scale of the pandemic increases, so do the economic costs. "For the most severe - the ultra scenario - we had over 4.4 trillion dollars wiped off the world economy, 140 million people killed."

Northern Ireland is accused of being complacent on the bird flu. They are said to need a comprehensive plan.

Maybe they should go to Noble Hospital in Westfield, MA, where they are putting the final touches on a flu plan.

Or, maybe they should go to Tehran, where they are also doing flu symposiums.

Thailand recognizes that vaccine production will be a problem, so they are building a plant.

Pinal County, CA, had its health director address pandemic issues to a chamber of commerce luncheon.

There have been some instances of low path bird flu being discovered in the US. Normally, I don't cover those, because it is my opinion that the cases are the effect of the surveillance programs--they were always there, and we only find them because we are now looking. This article I am including, however, just to note that the disease is likely to circulate around and it does present a mixing threat.

Students in Port Huron (MI) are creating a multi-media program on bird flu.

Would your bird flu be covered by insurance? A reader gets an answer for a website.

Ready for ten more years of blogging? Nabarro says bird flu could be a threat for a decade.

Recombinomics claims that evidence of recombination has been excluded from the GenBank.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

October 26 Flu Update

From a Harvard study...people say they would abide by restrictions during a pandemic and be quarantined, etc. If you were home and sick, however, there'd be a big shortage of people to care for you.

According to Harvard's poll, 24 percent of 1,697 Americans surveyed nationwide from September 28 to October 5 said no one could take care of them if they became sick and had to remain at home for seven to 10 days during a bird flu pandemic.

About 45 percent of those living alone said no one would be available to care for them, and 34 percent of black adults said they would have no one to take care of them if they became ill with pandemic flu.

CIDRAP also has this story.

Direct link to Harvard press release.

Next article in the CIDRAP series (excellent) on what has worked in Vietnam. This article includes the story of how cultural resistance was overcome.

More reports from Vietnam--no bird flu in 2006.

We reported earlier that the Swiss has bought a pre-pandemic vaccine from GSK. Now an "unidentified" Asian country has followed suit, and the company expects more.

Ostriches in Zimbabwe are reported to have avian flu. No word of confirmation of H5N1.

Non-migratory sparrows in China have bird flu, but there is no reason for the public to panic.

An informational program on bird flu is coming up in Leominster, MA.

Recombinomics says recombination is taking place in Northern China.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

October 25 Flu Update

Readers Dave and John sent this along. The New York Times on the issue of respiratory protection, and how it could be our only line of defense against the flu.

The UN is warning that a repeat of last winter's bird flu outbreaks in Europe is possible again.

``It is possible that a similar situation could occur in the approaching weeks with the migratory movement of wild birds from their northern breeding grounds,'' the United Nations agency said in the October edition of a newsletter published on its Web site. ``Eastern Europe and Caucasus region is at particularly high risk'' because of the higher density of backyard poultry there.

South Korea is preparing to fight the bird flu this winter, and they are prepared to take strong measures.

If a case is reported, an area up to three kilometers (two miles) from the site will be quarantined and all birds that could have contracted the disease will be destroyed. Movements of birds from the area will be banned for at least 30 days.
CIDRAP on how Vietnam might be a world model for how to fight the bird flu.

After responding to its 2004 outbreaks mainly by culling infected flocks, Vietnam in 2005 became the first country to institute mandatory nationwide poultry vaccination.

In addition—and almost simultaneously—the national government banned poultry rearing and live-market sales in urban areas; restricted commercial raising of ducks and quail, which can harbor the virus asymptomatically; imposed strict controls on poultry transport within Vietnam and agreed to examine illegal cross-border trade; and launched an aggressive public education campaign that deployed radio and TV advertising, neighborhood loudspeaker announcements, and outreach by powerful internal groups such as the Women's Union and Farmers' Union.

The country also compensated farmers for birds that had to be killed—initially at 10% of the birds' market value, and now at 75%.

CIDRAP also on a story from a couple of days ago. Certain types of birds are likely to carry H5N1, and for that reason, could be used as "sentinels."

Monitoring for flu has started in Azerbaijan.

A Scottish tour operator says that bird flu scares in the Mediterranean region have impacted its business.

The quarantine has been lifted in Inner Mongolia.

Wisconsin says it is ready for the bird flu.

New Zealand is providing support to bird flu efforts in the region.

Health officials in Terre Haute, IN are planning for a flu pandemic.

For those who are into this...homeopathic flu remedies.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

October 24 Flu Update

Novartis is reporting success on its cell-based vaccine.

When asked how long it takes to produce the cell-based vaccine, company officials told CIDRAP News by e-mail, "Currently, basically the same as egg-based except lead times are much shorter and start-up is more flexible."

Russia has tested its bird flu vaccine on 240 volunteers.

Effect Measure blogs a Branswell article about doing away with the handshake culture--for our own good.

Revere also blogs the article we ran yesterday on WHO's warning to the world to step up the pace of vaccine production. Predictably and correctly, investments in public health are called for.

East Bridgewater, MA is working on its bird flu plan. And, it starts from the right premise.

“In the face of an epidemic, East Bridgewater is on its own,” said resident Eric Averill, a member of the town's Pandemic Flu Preparedness Committee.
Note that everone else will have help. But East Bridgewater is on its own. OK, that was a joke. But, it is a great Eastern tradition to have a citizen on the Town Committee.

Zanzibar came across some eggs smuggled in from Tanzania. To keep the area free of avian flu, the eggs were incinerated.

Schools in Muncie, IN are educating children and their families about pandemic flu.

A seminar is also being held at Hutchinson Community College--Kansas.

University of Colorado students and faculty are being urged to wash their hands--yes, to fight pandemic flu, but it is also the right thing to do.

Indiana is holding a tabletop flu exercise this week.

“Since it is not possible to predict when a pandemic will occur or how severe it will be, it is imperative that we remain vigilant in making sure that the state is doing all it can to respond effectively when it does happen.”

The ABC show "Fatal Contact" on bird flu is now on DVD.

Monday, October 23, 2006

October 23 Flu Update

CIDRAP on WHO's urgent call for upgraded vaccine capacity. More production (much more) of a hardier virus is required. This is a must read. Problems with egg-based vaccines and pandemic strains, and more.

Here's the WHO press release....

and the WHO report.

Secretary Leavitt lauded the WHO call, and called out US investment in vaccine research.

Helen Branswell is on board with a report on research with attempts to answer the question of how flu spreads in a hospital. Is it through hand-hand or heavy droplets, or do the droplets go airborne and spread throughout the hospital.

The outcome could determine how many health-care workers will be well enough -- or willing -- to look after the rest of us when the next flu pandemic strikes. The answer will influence the recommendations governments give hospitals on what masks to stockpile. If flu is an airborne virus, costly masks called N-95 respirators are the way to go. If it's not, simple and inexpensive surgical masks should suffic

Effect Measure also blogs this. Revere feels all healthcare workers directly treating flu patients should wear respirators....the question is, how far in the hospital should that extend?

University of Georgia researchers say that different species of wild birds will react differently to bird flu.

Vietnam is still preparing for the bird flu. 1 million Tamiflu tablets, and more...

Apart from the above drug and chemical, the MoH has also amassed 1,000 respiratory machines, 500,000 sets of on-the-job protection clothing, 500,000 special comforters, 500,000 sets of gloves and 1,000 sprayers of all kinds.

Vietnam held a bird flu preparedness exercise.

It is an understatement to say that this will be a difficult task. Indonesia is looking to clean backyard poultry flocks from its cities.

Wild birds in Australia appear to be bird flu free.

David Nabarro says working together might have stopped the bird flu from spreading, but the danger is not passed.

In the Bahamas, the agribusiness sector still recognizes bird flu as a potential threat.

In Malawi, they are recognizing that bird flu is still a risk as migratory birds come through.

Warnings to people in Nigeria--if bird flu is not stamped out, the ramifications could be serious.

Recombinomics has a local report that says that a Vet in Mongolia may be the first human bird flu case.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 22 Flu Update

Back on the mend. Bed rest, fluids, etc.

Excellent story on the course of the bird flu as a news story. Once all the rage (right after Katrina), now off the headlines (as we know from our hit counts). Today? The disease is making its expected consistent progress.

Now, with the disease still centered in Asia and the failure of migratory birds to spread the illness to Europe and North America, the H5N1 virus has dropped out of the media spotlight. The dearth of coverage has prompted some to think that the threat of a pandemic has passed.

Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

This year, a person dies from the disease about every four days, compared with about once every nine days last year, according to World Health Organization data. Of the 109 confirmed human cases of bird flu this year, 73 have been fatal. That's up from 97 cases and 42 deaths in all of last year.

Effect Measures blogs this story as well.

As long as this viral stew continues to bubble away in China, southeast asia, the Middle East and Indonesia we face the real possibility it will change character to make human beings an efficient new host for the virus to carry out its only function, make copies of itself.

China says it has inoculated all domestic fowl in Inner Mongolia.

The Swiss have become the first country to buy GSK's pre-pandemic vaccine. It is supposed to have 80% protection, and prime the immune system prior to a perfectly matched strain being developed. It is yet another strategy to buy time for the only perfect solution--a strain-specific vaccine.

Reader Wulfgang pointed me to this story--the release of a GAO report on preparation for bird flu in the Department of Defense. I haven't read it, but the report appears to indicate that the preparations are moving along, there is still work to be done in accountability and communications.

Here's a link to the full report.

There are flood waters in Thailand, and people are being warned to spray disinfectant to help to guard against many things, including bird flu. How waterborne is bird flu, anyway.

This story from Cyprus says Europe is preparing for the bird flu---and that nations supposedly hvae enough Tamiflu for 20-30% of their population.

Bahrain reports that Japan is working on curing the bird flu.

Eskimos in remote Alaska knew something important was going on when government officials started showing up. The village is in the flight path of migratory birds.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sick Call

Sorry for the quiet blog. Normally, I update the blog at night or early in the AM, but I have a bad cold and have been trying to get some rest. Hope to have an update this PM.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

October 18 Flu Update

Kenya is reporting bird flu in a border region--not clear if humans or birds are impacted.

More positive news on the vaccine front (or is everyone afraid not to play 'me too')--this time from Sanofi.

No surprise here--when bird flu news ramped up, so did Tamiflu sales in US...

of course, this was good for the bottom line at Roche.

Effect Measure writes that there is something we never considered. What could happen to sewage systems if people starting taking Tamiflu all at once during a pandemic?

Effect Measure also writes on the story we blogged a couple days ago--a look back at the Spanish Flu in Mississippi.

CIDRAP on recent news that healthcare workers need better protection.

This columnist wrote an ill-informed flu article...and got some corrections mailed in.

71 year old grandmother in Perth is taking part in vaccine trials.

Australia is warned that it should keep an eye on emerging overseas flu strains.

Rwanda is using mobile phones to collect data on bird flu and AIDS.

More bird flu aid has been pledged by the EU.

In Southern Africa, there are warnings about bird smuggling impacting bird flu.

WHO will post its pandemic vaccine plan on October 23.

A new flu book is out in Canada. Its authors warn against complacency and over-reaction. (The foreword is by Margaret Atwood, perhaps the best novelist in the world).

Monday, October 16, 2006

October 16 Flu Update

An Indonesian woman is dead from bird flu.

CIDRAP on three recent deaths in Indonesia.

Scientists have developed a vaccine for the Spanish Flu--meaning pandemic vaccines might be possible. (Next, they will go back in a time machine and inoculate the nation....no, wait, that was a movie).

Reports from a flu conference now say that it is a good thing that the flu hasn't extended beyond birds, because vaccine efforts are not close to fruition.

Recombinomics on the deaths in Indonesia.

Abu Dhabi has written a bird flu guide for travellers.

A British study reveals that one third of national flu plans do not talk about how medical treatment should be allocated in a pandemic. Interesting.

Australian Health Minister says country is ready for bird flu--pandemic risk not a problem.

Colorado State has a grant to study how poultry and people interact--and how that might impact the spread of the bird flu.

There are floods in Thailand, and people are being warned of bird flu risks during the floods.

South Africa says that it has increased the funding for bird flu.

A third dose of intradermal vaccine does not improve immune response.

Effect Measure on reports that flu is about to be completely neutralized--or, perhaps, not.

Yesterday, we had a case in which encephalitis is associated with bird flu. Recombinomics is on board with this one, noting that it means that bird flu cases could be higher than thought.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

October 15 Flu Update

An 11 year old boy died of bird flu in Indonesia.

ProMed on this case.

No matter what the US Government thinks, Laura Billings in the St. Paul Pioneer Press says that we probably won't stay home during a flu pandemic.

Switzerland announces some bird flu restrictions--including special ones for domestic birds living near lakes.

Mississippi paper writes on what happened in 1918 in their area--including a debate Revere would like on whether to release case counts for the local area.

"Official information as to the number of cases of influenza occurring in the Mississippi Coastal District has been withheld heretofore because of the fear that a certain portion of the population might be tempted to become careless if on a certain day the number of cases reported by physicians should happen to be low.

"It is now believed, however, by health authorities that the people in general have by this time become sufficiently convinced as to the need of precaution, and that it is therefore safe to give figures."

Effect Measure on CDC joining the blogosphere.

October 14 Flu Update

This will certainly resurrect memories of 1918. A woman in Indonesia has encephalitis due to the bird flu.

From Southgate, MI, the Department of Natural Resources is checking for bird flu.

The US is going to hold seminars in India to help improve flu surveillance.

A conference in Australia is examining the risk of bird flu to healthcare workers. This is one of the big (in my opinion) underlying issues in pandemic response.

Local Rochester, NY story on prime and boost.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

October 13 Flu Update

WebMD on designer medicines for the flu.

ProMed reports on the Indonesian death we had yesterday. Note mod comment on the confusion in case counts.

Europeans were reminded of the role personal hygiene plays in spreading all kinds of flu, including pandemic strains.

CIDRAP on prime and boost.

CIDRAP on CDC looking at non-medical flu prevention techniques.

Vietnam has been bird flu free for 2006, but they are not taking chances for the rest of the year.

They ran out of flu vaccine in Boise. Cue public health infrastructure post from Revere.

WHO Director-General candidate says bird flu will be a priority if elected.

More: Profile of Dr. Margaret Chan, who attended Western Ontario University.

The Human case in Egypt is confirmed.

ProMed: Outbreak in Inner Mongolia is confirmed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

October 12 Flu Update

The 20 year old man who was recently noted as a flu case in Indonesia has died. Note the presence of a potential cluster, and false negatives as well.

The man's brother died with bird flu symptoms on Sunday but due to lack of testing there has been no positive confirmation he had the disease.

A third sibling, a 15-year old girl, is currently being treated at Hasan Sadikin hospital.

"She is doing alright, no fever. We are still looking into whether she has the avian influenza virus. The third testing will be conducted today," Yusuf told Reuters by phone.

Two previous tests have found negative trace of bird flu. Relatives of the three siblings are also being tested.

Interesting article on a new approach to fighting bird flu that is less reactive than waiting until the pandemic hits. It is called "prime and boost" and some University of Rochester researchers say it has promise. Helen Branswell reports.

Revere notes this study, and its modest results, and reminds people to be modest about it. He also answers the question of why not just vaccinate people before the pandemic hits? What could it hurt? Here is part of his answer.

Second, when you vaccinate tens of millions of people a certain small number of people die from causes unrelated to the vaccine but in close proximity to getting it. That's because people drop dead with some regularity in any given week and if tens of millions are being vaccinated, some of them will drop dead around the time they get vaccinated. Those kinds of events, for a disease that no one yet has, is pretty bad PR and could severely damage a vaccine program for when it's really needed.

In my view, that's an important answer. I doubt, in fact, that we would have the political will to vaccinate anyone before an actual crisis was present. Conservative, anti-government people harnessing the Swine Flu story (or myth, you choose) would simply prevent it.

NIH summarizes the news that will be presented at a conference which started yesterday in Toronto. Includes info on two "novel" vaccine approaches that have been publicized, including prime and boost.

Effect Measure writes on the US plan (or, as Revere says "non-plan") that has been cited here in the past few days. Post is critical of the plan and recent statements about it. As always, Revere believes the best prep is to rebuild the nation's public health infrastructure. (It is crazy, but it just might work).

Financial traders in London are going to hold a bird flu exercise.

The FAO has founded a crisis management center for bird flu.

CIDRAP on the FAO center (or is it centre?)

Local officials in Lansing, MI, are doing bird flu testing.

Luther College (IA) is preparing for a potential pandemic.

Los Angeles held a bird flu simulation, where the pandemic started in LA and spread across the US from there. Problems were revealed.

But even as experts worked to develop emergency plans, they warned that little money has been provided and there is still confusion over the roles of federal, state and local governments during a pandemic. "(We) have a tremendous amount of confusion over roles - which leads to paralysis of action in many instances, or overlap, or strategies that just don't get completed because no one knows who in fact is supposed to do exactly what," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

A simulaton will also be held in Australia.

In Ireland, contract talks with GPs have stalled, impacting bird flu prep.

A CDC research grant has made its way to the Research Triangle in North Carolina.

China is doing a second trial of its human flu vaccine.

Cheesehead pandemic planning--Wisconsin works with poultry and wild bird "stakeholders"

FAO report (via ProMed) has an OIE report from Sudan--apparently, six outbreaks have occurred there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October 11 Flu Update

A 67 year old woman in Indonesia is seriously ill with bird flu. She had contact with chickens.

A 39 year old woman also is reported as a new human case in Egypt.

CIDRAP on the two new cases.

Official WHO statement.

Effect Measure on Egypt. Notes that flu season is starting, and the flu is coming. He warns to expect more cases in Africa.

The CDC is working on its bird flu plan, and they are going old school with it. Researchers are studying how long people could go without leaving their homes. (My note: my view has always been that a vaccine is the only real answer. Therefore, mitigating the situation until a vaccine is available is the next challenge. I don't know if it can be done, or if these measures would be effective, but it seems like it is the next key question).

"The classic public health measures did work in SARS," he said. They won't be enough to stop a flu pandemic but could prolong and spread out its impact to prevent hospitals from being swamped and running out of respirators to keep the sickest alive.

Effect Measure also reminds us that a over-active immune system and the cytokine storm are not the same thing...and not knowing the difference is dangerous.

Recombinomics reminds us of his data that says that bird infection is unlikely in Indonesia.

Russia now says it will begin to produce its human flu vaccine this Spring.

UNICEF is in Thailand, conducting training on bird flu for children.

Canadian Press on the news that flu has infected a dog.

Dr. Robert Webster says that if you are a waterfowl hunter, you are not likely to get bird flu...at least in the US.

China is starting up daily bird flu monitoring.

Polk County, GA, is making plans to fight the bird flu.

Local pandemic planning in Canada.

An epidemiologist in Fiji warns of a serious pandemic robbing the nation of its youth.

Monday, October 09, 2006

October 9 Flu Update

Singapore held an exercise, and they did learn some things. For example, they are going to increase the role of GPs.

Reuters on the discovery of avian influenza in pigs. It is a big development.

Pigs are a concern because they are susceptible to many of the viruses that infect humans. Swines can act as mixing vessels in which genetic material from avian flu viruses can mix with human influenza viruses, potentially producing new and deadly strains for which humans have no immunity.

Report on Dr. Nancy Cox, CDC head of infectious disease, making a home visit to Iowa. She's from Spencer--or near there.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

October 8 Flu Update

The FluWikie, perhaps the single most important development brought forward by the flu blogosphere, is now hosting pandemic flu awareness week. Click here to find out what you can do. Enough talk!

News Flash. From Indonesia, scientists have now confirmed that avian influenza has infected pigs. This is the second reservoir that many people have been sure had to exist somewhere. Promed has the story. This is one to keep an eye on. It has many implications, including possibly explaining some infections which could not be pinned to birds or humans.

Revere has also reported on flu infecting cats.

I'm not sure this has gotten as much attention as it should have, but the bird flu has returned to Egypt. This article says it is in 28 sites. They say they are better prepared this time.

The Director of Business Continuity Planning for The Gap spoke in the Bay Area on bird flu.

With today's technology, "There's a prediction that if [an avian flu pandemic] lands in San Francisco on Monday, it will be in New York by Friday," he said. "There is not going to be much warning. It will be worldwide."

A physician gave a speech in Mississippi. Her surprisingly candid approach.

"If pandemic flu gets started we won't stop it, but all these efforts would slow it down and hopefully make fewer people sick," said Currier, now in the Department of Medicine at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

As migratory birds arrive at wetlands in the Philippines, a minister sounds the alarm.

Mayors in the Philippines held a summit, and now they are preparing pandemic plans.

Romania says it is ready for bird flu if it returns this Fall.

A bird flu exercise is taking place in Cyprus this Fall.

Vietnam touts no flu outbreaks in ten months.

Cornell has a lab testing for bird flu, and they have tested hundreds of birds.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

October 5 Flu Update

We're going north to see the colors, so the blog will not be updated again until Sunday night.

OK. Who knew the State Department even had a special representative on avian and pandemic influenza? And who knew you had to call him ambassador? And who knew the US had "state of the art" flu prep?

More on the Indonesian case reported yesterday.

An Indonesian vet says that the bird flu can be carried by healthy chickens. I have no idea if this is actually true.

Indonesia is going to help a company from Singapore test a rapid flu test. It does without saying that this could be really important.

Baxter says it has a bird flu vaccine that is effective against multiple strains. Testing is early, but the vaccine is cell-based.

"This is the first clinical demonstration that a candidate H5N1 vaccine can induce antibodies that neutralize widely divergent strains of H5N1," said Dr. Hartmut Ehrlich, vice president of global research and development for Baxter's bioscience business. "These preliminary data, which must be confirmed in a larger study, suggest that the vaccine may provide wider protection for a larger number of people before and during a pandemic."

A Vice-Minister of Agriculture cast grim warnings on China's ability to battle an autumn virus.

Promed on the Chinese outbreak among birds.

Recombinomics has looked at genetic sequences from the Chinese samples, and say they prove that viruses change through recombination.

Recombinomics also says this indicates a pandemic concern.

The above comments confirm that the recent bird sequences overlap the human sequences in time and location, but still fail to match, indicating the vast majority of human H5N1 sequences are from a source other than most of the H5N1 infected poultry in Indonesia.

Mauritania has submitted its pandemic plan at an international conference.

Baylor University has done some more work on adjuvants.

From Australia: pandemic flu and business continuity planning.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Occtober 4 Flu Update

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee researchers are announcing the discovery of a "novel compound" that gives broad protection against influenza.

Researchers discovered a peptide - a small protein molecule - that effectively blocks the influenza virus from attaching to and entering the cells of its host, thwarting its ability to replicate and infect more cells.

Here's the UW-M press release on the peptide.

China is reporting another outbreak in Yinchuan, with 1,000 dead birds.

To me this makes eminent sense. The Trust for America's Health is calling for a "master plan" for vaccine development. They believe that it would translate science to preparedness faster.

A new case has been reported in Indonesia. A 21 year old woman.

New Guinea has alloted funds to prepare for the bird flu.

West Java has a new plan to "up" flu measures.

A Central Asian flu conference will be held in Kazahkstan.

Philipinos are being asked to prepare for bird flu.

On a challenge from the Governor, Indiana counties are preparing for a pandemic.

South Dakota is preparing for the pandemic.

October 3 Flu Update

Excellent article from Bloomberg that details the cultural, financial and religious reasons why fighting bird flu is difficult in Indonesia.

British scientists are developing new ways to fight flu. Seems to be promise, but a long way to go:

University of Warwick researchers used a flu virus naturally stripped of some genetic material to compete with other invading flu viruses.

This slowed the rate of infection so much the body could fight it off.

In effect, the invading virus became its own vaccine by triggering an immune response sufficiently powerful to neutralise it before it could gain a strong enough foothold.

Letter to The Times (UK) from US docs advocates use of statins during a pandemic.

Effect Measure posts on this as well, wondering why statins are not getting a higher priority.

FAO on using GPS to track birds and bird flu.

This press release says a chlorine system for water kills Influenza A.

They are holding a flu exercise in Singapore, and this time they are included external groups that cull birds.

Q&A from a Mayo Clinic flu specialist.

New Jersey has kicked off the "Get Flu Ready, New Jersey" campaign to increase awareness in that state.

Of course they have a website, too.

South Dakota also got some publicity for their prep work.

A report for investors identifies platform technologies that will "revolutionize" flu care in hospitials.

All wild birds that have been tested in New York State are bird flu free.

King County has ordered Tamiflu for a potential pandemic.

Effect Measure also has invited readers to help develop some advice on pandemic planning.

A professor has won the "Golden Rooster" for her work preventing bird flu in California.

Monday, October 02, 2006

October 2 Flu Update

China says the outbreak in Inner Mongolia is under control.

CIDRAP on the new anti-viral that is being worked on. Lots of hype. To date, it is only injectable, which is a drawback.

With all the talk of anti-virals, along comes this...warnings that we could be creating superbugs--drug resistant viruses.

Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, warned that the widespread use of antiviral drugs to treat illnesses, including bird flu and seasonal influenza, is causing- viruses to mutate into drug-resistant- forms.

He claimed that drug-resistant viruses now represented as big a threat to public health as antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria, such as MRSA. His comments come as bird experts were once again placed on alert for cases of avian flu returning to Britain with migrating birds.

More on China's claim that its latest bird flu outbreak is contained.

Flu monitoring results are in from Azerbaijan . All negative.

The Chinese samples are on their way to CDC.

The Wichita Eagle comes out of left field....with the news that you can eat chicken as long as it is cooked right.

The National Governor's Association has set up a pandemic preparedness project.

Recombinomics says that some similar tests around the world highlights the difference in strains in Indonesia.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

September 30 Flu Update

The data is real small and on mice, but Dr. Robert Webster suggests that the seasonal flu shot might provide protection against bird flu.

Nearly 1,000 chickens have died in Inner Mongolia (China) of bird flu. Culling undertaken immediately.

ProMed on the new case (cluster alert) from yesterday. Note mod comment that talks about another potential case that is dubious.

Effect Measure on the report of widespread bird infection in Indonesia.

Effect Measure also has this on the Bellagio principles, which are designed to guide an approach to bird flu that recognizes we are all in this together, and that the poor are most vulnerable. (Extension of story from yesterday).

Link to Bellagio principles.

There's low-path bird flu in Illinois.

Surveillance programs are underway in North Dakota.

This is really interesting. San Francisco Chronicle is talking about biosecurity, reminding backyard flock owners that their flocks are not immune, even if they are free range.

"With the highly pathogenic H5N1, you can have two flocks side by side: one is outdoors, in sunshine, with optimal space requirements, and the best possible feed; the other flock is indoors, crowded, without enough sunshine or fresh air, and poor feed. If you take this highly pathogenic virus and infect it in both flocks, they will both die," says Wallner-Pendleton.
Lake County, CA, is discussing banning the feeding of wild birds in a park.

Flu planning underway in Bergen County, NJ.