Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January 30 Flu Update

WHO says those suspected cases in Nigeria were negative.

Reuters says Nigerian officials were mum on the results.

Health experts in Indonesia are calling for closer monitoring of dogs and cats for bird flu.

ProMed with two news stories. First, Hungarian virus is 99.4% similar to 2006 European virus. No word on if that is good or bad. Second, Japan has a new outbreak in birds.

Interesting LA Times story on how a vaccine could avert a pandemic--in fact, I think it is the only thing that can.

More vaccine news on an adjuvant-based vaccine from BioSante.

A company in Australia is applying to produce a bird flu vaccine.

The Voice of America is training journalists in Africa on how to cover the bird flu.

In Alberta, hospital workers are discussing the ethics of a, should hospital workers be forced to work?

Japanese editorial does a good job of conveying the breadth of a response required for bird flu.

Pandemic training will be held in Shreveport.

Taiwan reports successful tests on a bird flu vaccine for humans.

A new pandemic plan has been developed at Penn State University.

USDA officials discuss their bird flu plans.


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Three brief comments on your news articles today my friend.

USDA Officials Discuss Their Bird Flu Plans:

This is an absolutely outstanding and insightful article which describes the involvement of the USDA and their 1,300 voluntary veterinarians in preparing for the arrival of H5N1 in the US. Unfortunately, in my opinion, their efforts will end up best serving the UN and stamping out the spread of the virus in foreign countries – in other words, the way things are appearing, it is unlikely that their expertise will get used to support the live bird markets in the US. Things may change, but for the foreseeable future, it appears doubtful.

Japan Times Editorial – Preparing for a Pandemic:

Another great article which realistically points out the key priority and ethical issues associated with the issuance of Tamiflu and vaccines. The Japanese really have their act together and have a profound understanding of the seriousness of an avian pandemic. They seem to have no reservations with plans to isolate patients, close schools, workplaces, public gatherings and events, restricting movement of people (quarantines) and cutting off traffic into infected areas. The is remarkable. While the US and Canada is still fumbling around, self flagellating and group groping in moralistic endless debates, trying to resolve these critical issues (like the St. Boniface General Hospital staff) – Japan, like many other countries, move out at lightning speed to lay these plans in place, and start communicating them to their populace.

The only inconsistency I noticed in the article is the WHO referenced estimate that a "new influenza pandemic would cause 2M to 7.4M deaths worldwide. While it is impossible to determine the validity and pedigree of this number, it does seem to me to be low enough to almost be on the scale of a normal flu type epidemic (the Hong Kong epidemic of 1968 alone was estimated at 1M). I would multiply the 7.4M estimated fatality number by a minimum factor of 10, on the low side, and a maximum factor of 50 on the high side, to bring it in line with internal government planning numbers being discussed. Yep, I do know the right range of numbers Orange, and 7.4M is way too short, we’re talking a potential pandemic on steroids here, not a puny anemic epidemic.

Penn State Prepares New Pandemic Plan – The Daily Collegian:

Your third great article – you hit a trifecta by finding this one. Those people at Penn State really seem to be on top of the pandemic planning game. They are planning for the classic 10-12 week periods of infection and disruption, in continuous waves up to a year and a half, just like it out of official internal government planning document. They already know that they will be forced to cancel classes and send the students home quickly. I was very impressed with their planning.

Big schools like this all over the US and Canada seem to have their act together when it comes to pandemic planning. Unfortunately, I have several colleagues in the East Coast who are on the staff’s of small private colleges and they tell me they are totally in the dark on this subject. This is very, very sad, especially since these are some of the most ungodly expensive schools in America and should know better and take responsibility and exert leadership.



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