Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 16 Flu Update

An Indonesia man has died of bird flu. It is the 65th death in the country.

The second human case in Laos is now lab confirmed.

ProMed on Laos and Indonesia.

Helen Branswell on the idea that the US and Canada could mix their vaccines.

"The fundamental principle is something that we clearly are interested in."

But Fauci said there are technical issues that need to be addressed, including finding out from companies what goes into their adjuvants, because "when we mix it up with a particular antigen and inject it into somebody, we don’t want to do that blindly."

The USDA says that sick birds will be too sick to migrate to Alaska.

A Maryland company is preparing to release a bird flu vaccine in a patch.

Effect Measure on yesterday's report on the strontium being used to track migration patterns. Revere thinks this could be valuable, but it is really early.

Hey, for you pigeon racing fans, the ban on pigeon racing has been LIFTED in Europe.

In Minnesota, a small community holds a conference on the role of the faith community in a pandemic. Which, I might add could be huge.

A Welsh doctor has a bird flu warning for the people of the Cayman Islands.

Canadian business writer says that the bird flu scare was an overreaction.


At 12:31 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I noticed in your Hindu Times article that the woman who died in Vientiane Province in Laos, kept a “healthy duck” that tested positive for H5N1. And, as the ProMed article points out, the 32 year old man in Indonesia that died, kept a pet bird in house also – however, it had not been determined if that bird tested positive for H5N1 (probably would though, in my opinion). I think the bottom line message embedded in these two articles, is that if indeed the vector for these two cases is pet birds maintained in private residences, then it tells me that H5N1 is seriously widespread in their communities. More so than anyone realizes. I'd be a little nervous if I raced pigeons like those Brit's - maybe this is good time to consider a new hobby.

Helen Branswell’s great article about the methodologies and strategies being considered by the US for mixing adjuvants to dramatically increase the supply of an effective pandemic vaccine is quite honestly, the first really optimistic news I’ve read in a long time. This mix-and-match approach, appears to be the panacea on the horizon, if the adjuvants prove compatible and effective. The kind of approach, if it could be coupled and leveraged with the transdermal vaccine patches being developed by biotech companies SRI International, Iomai and Stabilzation Technology, BioElectronics, Sequella and Shire Pharmaceuticals – could ultimately prove to be a fantastic solution to world manufacturing and production problems.

If we can put men on the moon numerous times, and land on Mars, one would think that these biotech companies, with government assistance, can pull this off. I think they will, given enough time. That’s the real question in all this.

I see Revere is struggling a little bit with the strontium approach as an application to interpreting the migratory patterns of birds. The whole idea stills sounds a little like somebody has been watching one of those CSI crime TV shows on weird forensics, a little too often, but we’ll see.

All I can say about the USDA article, which essentially asserts that it appears that H5N1 infected birds are too sick to make it too Alaska, is that this virus has the capacity to continually surprise everyone. Its resilience and tenacity to survive has been amazing. I would necessarily ascribe to this presumption – we may be surprised, since both weather and geography play a critical role in migratory patterns, and therefore, the situation is unpredictable.

Orange, you are very astute in your comment about the significant and critical role faith-based approaches may play, during a pandemic or any disaster for that matter. Having been involved in three national disasters and observing the results first hand, churches and community volunteers have always ended up as the “heavy lifters”. It’s not the government or the Red Cross or FEMA, as one would imagine. It’s the plain old ordinary people who go to church and extend a helping hand.

The Canadian article by Erin Pooley, was actually not too bad. It was reasonably well balanced in its content, and pointed out the pro’s and con’s about pandemic preparedness planning, the risk, and why individuals should dwell on it, unnecessarily. My only comment is that history itself proves it is prudent to always be prepared for natural disaster events and catastrophes. Far too many of us have been involved in our lifetimes with natural calamities, like 9-11 and hurricane Katrina, that dictate we be prepared.

Preparing for an avian influenza pandemic is not an overreaction on anyone’s part. A pandemic is a real sleeper-type threat, one that could bite every nation and affect every human being in the world. Nobody knows if and when it will occur. However, I can assure you and every reader that the US government takes the pandemic threat as serious as terrorism, or any other significant national security issue. I am involved in the government planning and there has been no let up, we continue to press on, quietly behind the scenes to get things in place, as each week goes by.

Until a viable pre-pandemic vaccine is in place for the entire US and Canadian population, I would advise everyone reading this to maintain a comfortable level of personal and family preparation. If not a pandemic, there will most assuredly be another dilemma to be prepared for.

To blow this issue off because there have been so few human casualties around the world, is still a very big mistake.

Pandemonium during a pandemic crisis will not only reign; it will pour.


At 12:48 PM, Blogger Orange said...


re: faith communities.

I have no personal experience but I read Brinkley's The Great Deluge, and in that book, the real heroes were almost all private citizens who sometimes had to fight the bureaucracy and law enforcement to help.


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