Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 13 Flu Update--snowbound edition

More quarantines are called in Turkey due to bird flu fears.

The latest bird flu deaths in Egypt were from a tamiflu-sensitive version of the virus. Are there really two strains running around Egypt?

WHO has urged the media not to spread bird flu panic.

"Just this morning on one of the television stations we saw wrong messages being transmitted, people talking about vaccines when there are no yet available. The vaccines are for birds not for humans," he told reporters.

No surprise here. CIDRAP says that the American Public Health Association has interviewed people about their home emergency prep and "the cupboard is bare."

Hard hitting article from the Asia Times says Indonesia is "dithering at ground zero."

International Herald Tribune with story on the Lunar New Year and how it might spread bird flu (this is an annual story).

More on research at St. Jude that shows N1 vaccine may provide some bird flu protection.

Scientific American also writes on this story.

Finally, Revere blogs this study, too. Interesting post on what he views as an area of inquiry which has some promise, but is one of many facing an overstretched medical research commnity.

The Guardian (UK) says that the bird flu in Britain is more than 99% related to the virus in Hungary.

ProMed says this doesn't solve the mystery. Note mod comment:

Questions which remain unresolved, and which may not be resolved by sequence analysis alone, are firstly the origin of this unique turkey/goose strain of virus and secondly the direction of travel of the infection -- from Hungary to England as presently supposed or from England to Hungary.

Vietnam says it has contained bird flu in the southern part of the country, but warns that trade demand for poultry means the virus will probably re-emerge.

ProMed runs article that points finger at poultry trade--not migration--for bird flu.

The Philippines have opened a flu lab that New Zealand paid for.

In Britain, this article says the Suffolk incident was all about the government protecting the interests of the industry.

Greece is urging precaution against the bird flu.

WHO has told the Nigerian state of Ogun that it has the agency's full cooperation.

North Dakota has hired a company to run its tabletop exercise.


At 7:35 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


You know, when I read your Asia Times article about “dithering at ground zero”, I couldn’t help thinking about my brother in law. He’s probably holds a world record with the different number of jobs he’s had during his lifetime, squandered nearly all of his inheritances, he’s always broke and borrowing money, gambles continuously, is inept, pretty much incompetent, never finished high school (so he’s semi-illiterate) and suffers from what I call “the victim mentality –syndrome”. He’s always a victim in his own mind, and he generally always looks for the easy way out of all situations, expecting others to bail him out. He’s been a Hari Krishna and Scientologist, and probably followed about two or three other unknown sects in his lifetime. He hasn’t saved a nickel for retirement and will no doubt end up dying while working on the job, when he’s well into his 70’s or 80’s. He might make the end of first week of an avian pandemic before he collapses in despair. The state will have to pay to bury him, because I’m not. When it comes to it – he just simply doesn’t care. He always wonders why bad things always seem to gravitate towards him.

This all pretty much describes Indonesia, also - the only other country that runs a close second, is Nigeria.

The CIDRAP article about health care workers being unprepared is quite perplexing to me. One would think that HCW’s would be in the forefront on the pandemic preparedness scale, but they are not. I am truly wondering if the real message being conveyed here is: do they really understand and appreciate what would be asked of them (ie, expectations) during a severe 1918 type influenza pandemic ? Or, are they keeping their fingers crossed, like millions upon millions of people do, when they are staring at an impending blizzard, hurricane or earthquake event, that it won’t be nearly as severe as predicted ? I will say, that in my view, some of most naïve and Pollyanish individuals I have run into in my pandemic discussions and planning, have been surprising, in the academic and medical communities. They pretty much lack the large picture, multi-faceted global thinking, that is required to understand the total implications and impacts, of a true wide-spread virulent pandemic. I find this very odd indeed. Maybe the scientific method and over-dependence on reason and logic, overshadows good judgment and common sense.

If the front line HCW’s are admittedly unprepared, what does this tell us about our state of preparedness factor, as a nation ? The bigger question is: how will the medical community as a whole perform, and be able to deal with the overwhelmed emergency rooms, quarantines, extreme stress, limited anti-viral’s and non-existent vaccines, be expected to make on-the-spot, life and death decisions – if they aren’t prepared ? As our medical “boots on the ground” infantry, they have to be fully prepared for a Cat 5 pandemic. If they are not, well, then they fail themselves, their families and our nation.

I am truly concerned that the HCW situation will turn out to be a case of personal and family safety, first, if things get severe.

If you have read John Barry’s book about the 1918 Great Influenza, then you can easily predict history will repeat itself when it comes to healthcare during a pandemic. There may be a mass exodus.



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