Tuesday, January 23, 2007

January 22-23 Flu Update

Sorry for the missed day. Life intervened.

ProMed reports a woman dead in Egypt (she had sick birds in her home) and two people in Indonesia in the hospital with suspicion of bird flu.

Margaret Chan had important words. Deaths from flu in 2006 were more than 04 and 05 combined. So much for a story that was dying out. Also, more outbreaks in S. Korea, and Nigeria. (Via CIDRAP)

Effect Measure blogs this article as well--at least the leaders are saying the right things.

Look to the bottom of this CIDRAP report. Has bird flu reached Hungary (and Europe). Smae report--FAO says outbreaks among birds were actually down from last year....if they were all reported. Also noting that banning backyard flocks is considered ill-advised and more sicks birds in Thailand.

Southern Japan had a new outbreak among birds.

Definitive tests from Japan are expected later in the week.

Vietnemese Delta Province is bird flu free for three weeks.

An infectious bird flu expert from the University of Rochester is set to testify before Congress.

Developing countries are demanding their fair share of bird flu drugs.

CDC has released a pandemic communication guide. Note:

She outlined several mistakes to avoid, such as:

  • Mixed or late messages. When it's critical to send a message quickly, "Don't worry about grammar or punctuation," she said.
  • Paternalism. "It's not reasonable to tell people to not be afraid. Address that they are afraid, then give them information that may help alleviate that fear," Reynolds said.
  • Ignoring rumors or myths. The longer rumors are allowed to circulate, the more likely they are to take hold.
  • Power struggles between government agencies, which erode pubic confidence in crisis response.

Scientists have modeled the spread of flu in a pandemic using modern informatics with a focus on the role of the airliner. The result has been noted before:

The researchers show that strict travel restrictions would do little, if anything, to prevent the flu from spreading throughout the globe. Encouragingly, the model predicts that the use of antiviral drugs would significantly thwart a global flu outbreak within certain ranges of infectiousness if every country in the world had a drug stockpile sufficient to treat 5-10 percent of their populations.

A second national summit is being held in Orlando for business preparedness. It is sponsored by CIDRAP.

An international pharmacist's organization has issued a report calling for an emphasis on continuity planning.

Norvavax touts further success of its flu virus.

Effect Measure on a little-seen study that showed that cats can get H5N1 and have no symptoms...and implications thereof.

State in the Philippines is fighting bird flu.

As Lunar New Year approaches, so do chicken sales.


At 8:47 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your one day respite was well worth it. You posted some pretty controversial articles today, that caused me to drop my daily study of Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacharyavatara, and get the old key board out.

I hate to be the daily eternal prophet of doom regarding avian influenza, but sometimes, I wonder if I live on the same planet as the UN and their agricultural arm, the FAO. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO, who so far seems only capable of issuing conciliatory and placative statements, has at least a leg-up over Julie Gerberding, CDC Acting Director, and the current Surgeon General of the DHHS – both of whom spend most of their active working day tunneling below the communications radar screen and avoiding public contact. So, I’ll give Margie the credit she is due: at least she’s better than these other two – she gets out in the public on occasion and says something. Oh, in case you all are wondering who the current U.S. Surgeon General is, he is Kenneth Moritsugu – America’s chief health educator, who nobody knows or has ever heard of.

Both Laurence Gleeson and Juan Lubroth, senior UN FAO infectious disease officials, seem to be a real pieces of abstract work. Both of them seem to be saying – as Revere comically translates, “Worry, don’t worry, worry”, with their schizophrenic mixed signals they are sending. Yeah, boy - at the same time that new 2007 H5N1 flare-ups have been reported in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, South Korea, Thailand, Hungary, and Vietnam; avian influenza is solidly endemic in Indonesia (including in flies as reported today); various H5N1 virus continue on their mutational path to be oseltamivir resistant, and many avian and human outbreaks remain unreported or going under-reported in Asian and Middle Eastern countries. I’m am truly missing something when Juan Lubroth says “a positive factor has been the stability of the H5N1 virus since 2004”, while at the same time, Thai headlines report within 24 hrs that “12 kids are under close watch for suspected bird flu and they are sending in doctors to treat all the teachers and 94 other students at an elementary school” (incidentally, this means pass-out-the-silver-Tamiflu-bullets and flood-the-area-time and smother the virus). This all sounds more like a slow progressive H5N1 melt down, than a positive stability factor to me.

Regarding poor countries, like Indonesia and Bahrain, demanding fixed percentages of antiviral and vaccines and equal opportunity access of these medicines from rich nations, during a pandemic… well, my response is what my father told when I was a little boy… “Wulfie, life isn’t always fair son”. But I have a solution to navigate away from this world entitlement mentality, as they get ready to celebrate their Tet Offens....er, celebration, and Lunar New Year.

Let’s trade these medicines for your oil. Sounds fair and square to me.

But what do I know ? I’m just a “rich person”, like you Orange.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger Orange said...

Wulf--I have to admit. I couldn't name the US Surgeon General.

Life may not be fair, but it might be in our interest to at least slow a pandemic in a "poor" country. Certainly, no one is going to do it out of the goodness of their heart--among nations, or neighbors.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Which tends to lead into an over all discussion of world ethics and perspective, which I doubt you have a enough server space to accommodate. Let’s just say, I don’t believe in the “rich people/poor people” argument at all as a basis for anti-viral and vaccine distribution. That would be a Dr. Phil approach. I believe we should mix in a little “quid-pro-quo” and take a “possession is 9/10th ‘s of the law” approach, like Chris Matthews.

Hardball seems to be the strategy that some of these same nations are playing when it comes to providing H5N1 samples and reporting of critical information on a timely basis.



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