Friday, February 23, 2007

February 22 Flu Update

From Moscow with flu? There are reports of eight or nine outbreaks of bird flu in suburban Moscow.

More on the new siege of Moscow...(their metaphor, not mine).

All the outbreaks around Moscow have been traced to birds bought in the last two weeks at the city's pet market. The market was immediately closed down and a 5-km quarantine zone was set up around it. Health officials said the bird flu had not affected any of the 23 big poultry farms around Moscow.

The EU is years away from being ready for a pandemic, says this report.

ProMed on confirmed avian cases in Pakistan, Russia and Hong Kong.

Rajasthan (a state in India and a "haven" for migratory birds) is on guard for bird flu.

Egypt is going to compensate farmers for the bird culling campaign--not with cash, but with a vaccinated chick.

The American Public Health Association is releasing its pandemic prep story here...

and link to document here.

People in Pakistan are urged to be vigilant.

CIDRAP has a report that 2,000 flu viruses have been sequenced.

In response to a question, a paper in the Poconos gives readers the basic poop on bird flu.

The Erie County Health Department (Buffalo) says it is preparing for a pandemic.

A thousand body bags. Computer chips to plant on corpses to better track the dead. More saws for autopsies.

The Health Director in this Eastern North Carolina town gave a bird flu talk.

(Chart...poultry outbreaks in 2007...from WHO via Effect Measure). Effect Measure also blogs this chart--noting that the virus is still out there, and that it would be foolish to assume it will not mutate to H2H).


At 6:11 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Regarding Russia, one has to wonder, like in Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria, just how widespread the H5N1 problem is in poultry. Has it been widespread all along throughout the poultry in the countryside, is did really only originate from that one pet market ? Time will tell.

In the article entitled, “EU Unprepared for Influenza Pandemic”, I submit that one could substitute nearly any country’s name in the world, as they would all need another two to three years preparation time for a pandemic. No country I am aware of has adequate food supplies stockpiled for its population, fuel supplies, or adequate provisions to keep essential services going, goods delivered, and to manage the expected overflow of sick people in the emergency rooms. Maybe, just maybe enough for a normal influenza epidemic, but certainly not for a 1918 like pandemic on steroids.

“No need to worry and no cause for alarm” says the Agriculture Minister in India, as well as the Pocono Record.. Let’s look at the critical geographical stat’s out there Prabhulal… starting with the top ten most populated countries in the world, in order: China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, Nigeria, and Japan. Bird flu has been reported officially in 6 out these ten countries (60%), and HPAI has not been reported in India, US, Brazil and Bangladesh. My prediction is it’s just a matter of time, at the rate this virus is progressing, before India joins the bird flu ranks. I hope they can step up to the task like Russia and Great Britain – but I doubt it. The virus is probably already there in the villages.

The problem, Prabhulal, along with you rich Pocono people, is: indigent farmers who spend much of their time in close proximity to H5N1 infected animals, run the high risk of contracting both H5N1 and an ordinary Type A or B flu, simultaneously, through reassortment – resulting in an exchange of genetic material and producing an easily transmissible hybrid.

I see from the APHA article they have a pretty good list of recommendations and top concerns. As usual though, two subjects are noticeably absent: any discussion about safety and security needs (this makes sense), and the more moribund subject of how to process victims bodies in a dignified and proper manner (as in body bags, funerals, last rites, logistics).

One would think that the American Public Health Association would consider these two basic essentials of disaster planning and discuss them openly. I hope they read my comment. I guess these two sensitive topics are like cancer… nobody wants to discuss cancer, but it is a growing fact of life.

You do have two standout type articles today Orange, that deserve recognition: The first is the Eastern North Carolina Pitt County Health Director article, and the second is the Erie County Health Department article. Both articles point out the necessary and importance of stockpiling essentially medical supplies now, on the assumption there will be no vaccine available to protect people, plus the government cavalry is not coming to the rescue. People will be in desperate need for emergency care and assistance of all kinds, and it will mean life or death whether or not they receive it. It’s that simple.

And they are right – give them the gold ring for accuracy. The key lessons that were learned from Katrina and Rita, and host of other hurricanes on the Gulf coasts, is that disasters overwhelm states’ and local municipalities ability to respond. Don’t expect your state or federal government to ride to your rescue during a pandemic. The only branch of US Homeland Security that saved large numbers of lives during Katrina, was the Coast Guard, thank God. Within 24 hours, the USCG literally had 1/3 of its entire aviation fleet operating in New Orleans. By the time the 82nd Airborne was mobilized and arrived, over 33,000 people had already been airlifted to safety by the USCG.

The problem we will have during a pandemic is neither the 82nd Airborne, nor the USCG, and not even the boy scouts or Red Cross, will be coming to your rescue.

Preparedness is the key. Denial and a sense of resignation threatens to paralyze people at the worst time possible, when they should be making preparations to shelter in place. For anyone not to prepare themselves and their family for a pandemic, is silly and irresponsible… just plain old dumb.



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