Saturday, February 03, 2007

February 3 Flu Update

Just checked the log, and searches and traffic are way up from the UK. No surprise there. Feel free to check back here...we cover the flu news each day, with an eye toward providing the facts as they are.

159,000 birds are being culled on that farm in Britain. Workers were offered Tamiflu, and the government is reminding people to remain calm.

More...BBC on how the virus got there, since migratory birds are considered to be weeks away. They believe maybe a bird arrived early, but there could be other sources...

Of course, there's no immediate risk to people, BBC again.

Some of the people in the village in Suffolk where this is going on are worried.

Effect Measure with short post to remind those that the flu was always lurking, even when it left the headlines.

My opinion...and it's just that. The outbreak may well end up being a "one off" as they say, in the short term. But in the long term, this signals a widening geographic spread of the disease (at least in birds), and probably will not be reversed in the long term.

Death in Nigeria is confirmed H5N1 by WHO.

Official WHO update from Nigeria.

ProMed on Vietnam, where most birds died and are being tested, and Japan, where H5N1 was confirmed on a previously reported outbreak.

The CDC held a pandemic exercise. The framing scenario for these always fascinate for the results, they feel it was a success.

A 22-year-old Georgetown University swim team member just back from Indonesia eats dinner with his teammates but then develops a fever and doesn't accompany them to a meet in New York.

That is how a flu pandemic in the United States started.

A winter storm bears down on saltless and plowless Atlanta, closing schools and scaring commuters.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I’d like to make two quick comments about your articles today.

First, about the breach in the bio-security of the Turkey farm in the town of Holton, in the UK. I find it pretty fascinating that this very same perplexing situation is occurring in Japan, who like the UK, undoubtedly have very strict procedures in place to avoid contamination and infiltration from migrating birds. While it is entirely possible one lone early infected migrating sparrow could have caused the outbreak, I would look very carefully for other beaches in bio-security. I would likely also investigate H5N1 contaminated feces left by rodents, infiltrated viruses left by unprotected foot traffic, or in the food supply itself. It’s even possible that one of the hatched turkey chicks itself was infected and further spread across the one lone shed. I would even investigate if adequate decontamination procedures for entering vehicles were in place. The reason I speculate these other sources, is due to the fact that there are apparently many free ranging geese and ducks in the vicinity, none of whom has gotten sick from the disease. Like Japan, it may ultimately prove impossible to spot the actual source of penetration. One can further speculate that if these type of lethal outbreaks continue to flare up in commercial poultry operations (which they are very likely to), it may ultimately impact the economics and wisdom of raising poultry as a source of cheap food. Suppliers will eventually go out of the business.

My second comment is going to be very poignant about the aborted CDC influenza drill which was conducted by the outside contractor consultants MPRI: the entire episode indicates to me how naïve and unprepared the CDC and Ms. Gerberding really are, relative to managing and controlling an actual pandemic outbreak. From the numerous first hand accounts I have heard and read from those on hand, it was a media staged event, with even her own staff perplexed at times, and unsure about roles, responsibilities and decision making responsibilities. I believe it would be very prudent for the CDC, perhaps under better leadership, to consult with the DOD and NASA, so they can thoroughly understand their requirements. The DOD and NASA have numerous proven superior world-wide centralized and integrated “control centers”, with complete systems and operational expertise in place, which the CDC can adapt from, or even “bolt” into (take advantage of). For example, all military and NASA highly specialized main control systems and centers have 24 hour operations and backup capability at alternate locations, due to bad weather, hurricanes, or any other type of disaster – I truly doubt the CDC has even thought about this critical contingency.

The CDC needs at minimum to be prepared to maintain world-wide communications in order to make critical decisions during a pandemic. To do so, they need to maintain constant 24 hour communications not only with the states within the US, but with the WHO and every major country around the world. To be able to do this, they need to access the entire system network of the NASA and DOD Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) space network, and the “Ground Network” facilities. Both systems together comprise the largest secure communications systems in the world, necessary to centrally manage a pandemic in one place – right down to the telephones, microwave, radios, cables, and geosynchronous satellites, including wide-band and video capability. All of this capability to maintain continuous secure communications with nearly every country in the world is currently operational and available, and all the CDC has to do is ask.

What’s puzzling many of us… is that the TDRSS segment of this sophisticated communications network is owned, managed and operated by the CONTEL Federal Systems Sector, right out of Atlanta, Georgia, right where the CDC is located.

It should not give anyone comfort reading this, that the CDC called off their one pandemic demonstration exercise, due to an ice storm. They have a long ways to go if they want to get into the big leagues where they need to be.



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