Tuesday, January 02, 2007

January 2 Flu Update

ProMed with this: a report that there are four human cases in Vietnam. Note mod comment...it is hard to tell if these are the same four people from last week, or new cases, however, it is an official report of H5N1.

ProMed: more avian outbreaks in Vietnam.

More Vietnam. Further spread is expected.

Local report says flu is "raging" in Mekong Delta.

Cornell University announces the results of a study that says bird flu is unlikely to spread in water treatment or wastewater systems.

Missouri radio story reminds people there that bird flu is quiet, not gone.

The Thai Health Department has warned people that bird flu is still a problem.

ProMed holds up two countries fighting bird smuggling as examples of how to work against the spread of H5N1.

Southwestern Nova Scotia has revised its bird flu plans, and continues to monitor the situation.

Press Release describes the "Replikin Count" as a way of, I guess, quantifying the H5N1 virus.

The World Bank has allocated $28M to the bird flu fight.


At 4:36 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I was in a perfect state of ch’i, absorbing the natural energy of the universe, until you posted those ProMed articles on Vietnam.

By my count, H5N1 poultry outbreaks are currently being reported there in four provinces, all in the north and south, and within numerous districts. A sense of deja vu ensued, and it jogged my memory back to February, 2004, when we all knew a little less about the spread of H5N1.

In February 2004, Vietnam reported it culled 3M poultry, and H5N1 was then reported in 23 of its 64 provinces (36%). It reported outbreaks in 400 separate locations. China, at that time, reported confirmed cases of H5N1 avian flu in 16 of its 31 provinces (52%), including Shanghai and Tibet. The virus was also reported widespread in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Indonesia. Note that Indonesia wasn’t quite sure that the reported poultry die-offs at that time were even H5N1 related – they reported officially that it was due to New Castle Disease.

By 2005 intensified surveillance of Vietnamese patients led to the detection of mild human H5N1 cases, more infections in older adults, and an increased number and duration of clusters in infected families in northern Vietnam. In addition, some of the epidemiological features of human H5N1 infections occurring in northern Vietnam during the period January through April 2005, appeared to differ in some respects from those seen in 2004 in other parts of Asia, and in the concurrent period in southern Vietnam. These differences included an increase in the number of case clusters in the north compared with the south, a prolonged interval between the first and last cases in clusters, detection of sub-clinical infections, an expanded age range of cases and fewer fatal cases. Investigators and scientists at that time were not able to prove that human-to-human transmission had occurred. However the pattern of disease appeared to indicate that the epidemiology of H5N1 infections was evolving in Asia. In particular, findings suggested that the local H5N1 virus strains may be adapting to humans – in guess where, of all places, Vietnam.

Let me segue a bit and ponder some additional information about this situation as I see it: All of these countries I mentioned are situated next door to each other. The black market poultry trade has not ceased. Timely confirmation and reporting of H5N1 in both poultry, swine and humans, is sketchy, at best. Geographically, this is the world’s largest concentration of people. The changes in epidemiological patterns in this entire region of the world are entirely consistent with the possibility that recently emerging H5N1 viruses may be more infectious for humans. Transparency remains an issue.

How difficult can it really be to get a straight answer or confirmation, on a family of four, that they do, or do not, have avian influenza related pneumonia ? What’s all that WHO money being shoveled into Vietnam being used for ? Apparently, not early H5N1 detection.

Isn’t this really a case of Rome burning, while Nero is busy fiddling around ?


At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

The story on the Replikin report was interesting.It was good to see a log of scientific fact floating in a sea of speculation.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I don’t know what to make of the Replikin information so I’m skeptical, but neutral on them, to be honest with you. I don’t know much about the company either, other than they are based in Boston and have supposedly developed this “proprietary software”, which they claim to use as a basis for their peptide sequence “index” analysis. They seem to be publishing these news releases about every year or so, and it looks more commercial than scientific to me. It seems, they are trying to push their software, since it doesn’t appear they use actual virus samples for any analysis. This troubles me a little. I guess I would want to see a lot more basic 101 type influenza virus information from them on HA, NA and M proteins, as well as a discussion of genes, amino acid sequences, binding sites, and antigenicity, before I could buy into their peptide index approach, which theoretically assists in the prediction of emerging epidemics.


At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Wayne said...

I am not a scientist but they used the phrase"humans may becoming a preferred host for H5N1" and they based their information on their scientific methods.So I guess we would have to speculate that their analysis is sound.Sometimes though it is the little stories like this that few people pay any attention to that wind up being an accurate forcast of a future event.


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