Friday, March 16, 2007

March 15 Flu Update

An Australian professor speaking at Harvard has strong words for Indonesia's bird flu efforts.

"There's a level of rhetoric and a level of reality and an increasing gap between rhetoric and reality," said James Fox, visiting professor of Australian studies in Harvard's Anthropology Department.

The Chief Vet at the UN says detection has improved, but Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria still lack sufficient bird flu controls.

A British expert says Taiwan is prepared to fight the bird flu.

Scientists are using strontium to monitor bird flu movements.

2,000 ducks will be served in the Philippines, despite bird flu fears ("it we change our lives, the virus wins")

CIDRAP on yesterday's USDA announcement on food safety.

Revere also blogs this. Revere, as always, is afraid the public won't be told the truth because it will "scare" them.

ProMed on the latest case in Egypt. The young girl is receiving Tamiflu.

Here's an article from the US State Department's online publication Lifesaving Vaccines. It is about health authorities working together on a vaccine.

Newton County, Arkansas, is just getting started on its bird flu plans.

Similar work is ongoing in Santa Barbara County, CA.

McDuffie County, Georgia, "shined" in its pandemic drill.

The Economist applies some long-held principles of, well, Economics, to the question of vaccines.


At 5:44 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


An outstanding cross selection of articles today, which naturally, forces me into a comment situation.

Your first two articles about Indonesia and Egypt’s eternal struggles to control their endemic bird flu epidemics, clearly point to the general underlying reasons in both countries: lack of strong governance authority, poverty, decentralization of laws and lack of any cohesive and consolidated health care or central agricultural infrastructure and oversight, lack of education, and of course, the barriers that religion itself and the culture of the people, imposes on them. Many of us have no doubt, that the dire situation in both countries, including Nigeria, will worsen significantly, before it might ever get any better.

After reading the article on the preparedness of Taiwan, is there any question in anyone’s mind that they, along with Switzerland, Hong Kong and perhaps Japan, who the world leaders in pandemic preparation are ? Switzerland currently, I believe, has enough antivirals and preliminary pandemic vaccine to supply 100% of its citizens. They don’t mess around with endless debates and discussions about aerosol droplets.

The articles you posted on the measurement of metal strontium found in bird feathers and the Nash strategy as applied to a pandemics – are probably good solid scientific studies, but I admit, I’m still trying to determine the real utility and value of both. My cardinal rule on reading things is, if it isn’t real apparent what the importance and main message is on the surface, well, either I’m pretty dumb, or the it’s truly unclear. In this case, it’s probably a little bit of both, I suspect.

The CIDRAP article which outlines the actions that the USDA is undertaking to increase surveillance of poultry products entering the US, is quite good and displays that the USDA is taking their responsibilities seriously and establishing leadership in one of the key areas. I see they are also stepping up, with their sampling of more wild birds for H5N1 in the near future, and even monitoring the live poultry markets. However, I didn’t see anywhere where they were going to intensify their inspections of large poultry operations and the meat packing industry, to determine possible contamination due to H5N1, or due to violation of minimum bio-secure regulations and standards. I wonder who’s going to do that, so we don’t end up with our own “contaminated turkey incident”, like occurred in Great Britain ? You would have thought we had learned a valuable lesson about routine close inspections, from that debacle.

As Revere points out in the Effective Measure article, public perception is a powerful sword with double edges: I believe if there is even the slightest hint that our US food chain is contaminated with H5N1 products, no amount of explanation by the officials about increased temperature cooking will bring the citizens to purchase these products. No way, not even myself – I’ll go on an Irish 100% potato famine diet, before I’ll eat any H5N1 contaminated food products.

Your US State Department article was an outstanding summary of how normal influenza surveillance has been conducted and strains reported, along with how serological studies, and new vaccines are identified, by the GISN, NIC’s and collaborating centers of the WHO, over the last 50 years. However, after reading the article, one can see that the entire management and oversight structure was designed, developed and evolved to support normal influenza strains – not novel strains, like H5N1. My view is that the current H5N1 strain is becoming far too complex and problematic to manage – all we need is even one more potential novel avian strain to emerge (which is entirely possible), then we are definitely in terrible trouble.

And finally, your article about the annual Pinikpikan festival in the Phillipines.
Did you catch the tail end about how Pinikpikan is actually prepared, Orange? It would give a PETA person, heart failure.

It says, “Pinikpikan is a Cordilleran delicacy cooked by slowly beating a chicken to death, pulling out its feathers, and burning the chicken using an open fire or blowtorch. The chicken is prepared like tinola or chicken stew, and the coagulated blood supposedly adding a distinct taste to this dish”.

No wonder the H5N1 virus is firmly embedded in Indo-China and Asian culture and the influenza infected people are flocking to the rural clinics in droves.

Holy Mary, Mother of God…that Pinikpikan explanation sure got me puckered up.


PS – yesterday I mentioned the Rand Corp and the six nation pandemic table-top exercise.

Look at this news link Orange:
I wonder why the Air Force Research Laboratory wants to advance its Avian Influenza Genotyping System? Maybe their version of NAMRU perhaps ?


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