Friday, January 26, 2007

January 25 Flu Update

There is a suspected bird flu case in Azerbaijan

A six-year old girl has died of bird flu in Indonesia.

CIDRAP on the death of the girls, as well as suspected cases in Thailand and Nigeria (reported here yesterday).

ProMed on the death, and suspected cases in Indonesia.

Perhaps the day's biggest news...two pigs in Indonesia are said to have bird flu. Because pigs can host both avian and human viruses, they are considered a potential "mixing bowl" for virus re assortment.

Meanwhile, a Thai man is said to have died of human flu, not bird flu.

Klaus Stohr has left WHO to go to Novartis. In his day, especially pre-Navarro, Stohr was often quoted on this blog.

The Economist covers the flu story in its usual fashion--from top to bottom.

Roche released a statement on yesterday's "we're not worried enough" hearing at the US Senate.

Zanzibar (Tanzania) is not lifting poultry restrictions, despite heavy pressure.

A professor at the University of Arkansas is developing a sensor which could be used to diagnose bird flu in the field.

Significant surveillance is underway in Australia.

Company says it has identified "replikins" which are genome strands related to virus replication.

The Airport in Manila is still considering how to screen for bird flu.

Business Week on the re-emergence of the bird flu in the European Union.

Thailand and Japan are working together on a vaccine for poultry.

Effect Measure looks a recent stories on difficulty managing TB--and how they relate to bird flu and the need for better public health infrastructure.

Really interesting study looking at women who survived the 1918 flu who were pregnant when they caught the flu.

Almond found that the children of infected mothers were 15 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and sons of infected mothers earned approximately $2,500 less per year than those who did not have fetal influenza exposure. Additionally, those who were in utero at the height of the epidemic had 20 percent higher disability rates at the age of 61.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Just a couple of quick comments on selected articles.

The article out of the Shanghai Daily, seems to support some of the muffled news reports coming out of Thailand in the last few days, about the possibility that H5N1 is combining with the H3N1 normal influenza virus in some of the influenza victims there. This could account for the confusing diagnoses they are seeing there (they have asked for immediate WHO assistance). If so, and more evidence of this is substantiated, this is much more that a theoretical swine “mixing vessel situation, this will confirm that H5N1 continues to mutate at an alarming rate. In my view, I believe it will add more confirmation that we need to be vigilant and prepared for the inevitable pandemic. A confirmed mutation by the WHO on the swine and the Thailand human victim’s, will raise the pandemic stakes to a whole new dimension. The tone of the Shanhai article and its medical expert, sounded fairly firm and precise.

The follow-up study of pregnant women who survived the 1918 pandemic, was indeed fascinating. Generally, the findings seem to indicate some of the physical and mental difficulties experienced after-the-fact, which are described in John Barry’s book.

Regarding the Roche statement to the Senate Subcommittee hearings yesterday, their statistics are quite interesting and somewhat revealing:

For example: only 29 states in the US have placed orders for Oseltamivir, which seems to indicate lack of real concern or commitment by those states who have not placed orders – which is shamefully irresponsible. Manufacturing facilities for Tamiflu have been established in the US to increase production capacity, this is a tremendously smart strategic move by HHS. But, on the downside, even though 21.3M doses have been delivered to the US, this is only enough to treat roughly 5-10% of the population with a single dose – if a double dose is required, then say 90% of the US populace is, well, screwed. Let’s hope that the US manufacturing facility can get things on-line quick and pump up the totals.

The fact that Roche says more than 300 corporations have ordered Tamiflu for their employees, does not surprise me a great deal.

But, here’s the way it will work… if you are a regular working stiff like most of us, keep your fingers crossed that your company is one of the 300 who bought Tamiflu, and you are deemed “critical” to their operation.

Otherwise, in addition to being one of the 90% being generally screwed via the US Tamiflu shortfall, as a “non-essential” employee, you are now… confirmed as royally hosed. You will have to wait out the 6-12 months until a vaccine is produced.

This is why I have one of the world’s largest stockpiles of Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s. I plan on toughing things out the hard way.



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