Sunday, March 18, 2007

March 17 Flu Update

There's a new outbreak in Chickens in Kuwait.

However, Kuwait also says it has no human cases.

ProMed on Egypt (flu in vaccinated birds), Nigeria (frenzy when bird flu found earlier.) Interesting quote from China in a story on corn prices....

Market prices for corn in the Jiangsu area are stable to slightly
rising. A large local feed producer says that after the Spring
Festival, there are rumors of avian influenza outbreak[s] in this
area with high death rates for poultry. Breeders are panic-stricken
and do not dare casually stock up. Breeding demand has fallen,
dragging down feed demand. But because incoming market volumes [corn
feed supply] are low, prices quoted by traders rose. Actual
purchasing requirements are comparatively weak.

As noted with wry smiles elsewhere, the Scottish executive says 63,700 people could die in a pandemic. Approximately.

Azerbaijan is now monitoring bird flu on a monthly basis.

A study that shows the bird flu in Russia is related to the Chinese strains may indicate the involvement of migratory birds.

An Australian company says it is working on a way to test people for bird flu before they get onto an airplane.

An alert reader sends this along---Florida lawmakers have not approved $$ to fund participation in the US government's discount Tamiflu program. This has DHHS concerned.


At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that Florida lawmaker said it wasn't one of his top priorities.

With all the tourists, can you imagine if H5N1 went human-to-human at Disney World?

He seriously needs some education on this issue.

Email him at:

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is amazing. In all of the public policy debate regarding health issues, this should be a 'no brainer' -- especially in a state like Florida...huge elder population......tourism as top economic engine.

One can only hope that Florida lawmakers 'get it' -- and don't miss this opportunity to insulate/innoculate residents and visitors against the looming threat of avian flu. To do otherwise would be to callously disregard taking action on something the rest of the country -- and the world -- are properly focused.

At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Governor Crist and lawmakers who care about the state's large population of older people -- and 60 million tourists who visit Florida -- must not sit idle through this legislative session.

Failure to act is like inviting a health disaster upon Florida.

The media need to cover this all through the session -- until action is taken and Florida is made safer.

At 1:44 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


You have two significant articles today that necessitates a comment today – first, the ProMed article describing the “rumors of avian influenza outbreaks in Jiangsu with high death rates for poultry”, and the article on Russian, that describes the Chinese Qinghai Lake migratory strains of H5N1, which are directly traceable and the source of their recent outbreaks.

Both of these articles point to the current significant problems in China, which will no doubt surface in the news in the near future. It is a far worse situation, than merely migratory birds from China, spreading H5N1. As I have indicated before several times, China is a cauldron of avian viruses, just waiting to spilling over on to the world. The primary influences driving this threat are several things:

• China’s geography and population growth – it’s population of more than 1B accounts for 23% of the world human population. Even though it is one of the biggest areas of the world (6.5% of the total land area), it is a mountainous country, with 2/3’s of it covered by mountains, hills and plateaus, and most of western China is not suitable for agriculture. Its population is unevenly distributed, with the inland areas more sparsely populated (mostly arid, mountainous and frigid plateaus) and the eastern coastal provinces (monsoon areas), very densely populated.

• Climate change is severely inhibiting its ability to feed its people, by the increasing instability of agriculture production. There are currently very large drops in agriculture production occurring, and over the next 30 years it is expected that production of critical grains and rice, will drop by -37-50%. This will be caused by evaporation of inland rivers, depended upon for irrigation, severe water shortages and droughts, (especially in the northern part of the country), higher temperatures caused by global warming, and increased natural disasters. I’m not even going to mention their air and water pollution problems, with are staggering.

• Since 1978, when China abandoned its medieval soviet style central planned economy system, communes were dismantled, and they adopted a “hybrid system”, both socialistic and capitalistic, it has been unable to increase its agricultural production in proportion to its population growth. This has led to a large and growing disparity between rural and urban populations, and resulted in a significant number of surplus farm labor, and a large social gap. Currently, a full 70% of China’s huge population lives in the countryside and 50% of them are farmers. Demand for food is set to double over the next three decades and it will be impossible to increase production to feed their population. The surplus farm labor (realistically estimated at an incredible + 200M workers), coupled with low production, and taxation, has led to very large hidden unemployment and social unrest, exacerbated by lack of education, lack of health care and social services.

• This high demand for food, in consonance with rapid population growth, as well as tremendous pressure to increase production of meats, vegetables and grains, is causing an epidemiological disaster. These immediate pressures to feed its people levied by its central government’s CPC mandates, have forced it to aggressively and irresponsibly use artificial hormones, animal vaccines, genetically altered agricultural approaches, to speed up production. They view this entire approach as full implementation of the “scientific concept to expedited agricultural development”.

• Disruptive protests by unemployed and dissatisfied farmers are a weekly occurrence in China – of course the CPC leadership stifles this news. Chaos and severe economic and social disruption is the biggest fear of both the CPC and the urban intelligentsia and more affluent populations, along the eastern coastal areas. Popular resistance against the central government’s policies, loss of authority by the “town-village enterprises and increases in state-owned conglomerates powers, have further weakened their population control programs. To add to this mess, because of the CPC pressure for industrial economical development and erosion, the country loses even more agricultural land.

I contend that the epizootic avian influenza situation in wild and domestic fowls, and in swine, and the zoonotic disease situation in China, are already most probably a monumental disaster in the making. Its propensity for using large scale vaccination as the ultimate solution, especially in poultry, only causes asymptomatic carriers to other geographic locations in the world. Most diseases around the world are zoonotic, and 11 of the last 12 emerging infections have emerged from animal sources.

As the weeks and months ensue, don’t be surprised as more news about the dismal agricultural, social unrest and virus situation in China is unveiled. All roads due not lead to Rome when it comes to H5N1 – they lead to Beijing.

Ben Franklin used to say, “Three may keep a secret if only two of them are dead”.


PS - Yeah Anonomous, I couldn't believe that Florida's lawmaker's comment either. Kind of odd this yo-yo would say that when the AARP just ran a huge informational article on avian influenza preparation about 6 months ago. Doesn't sound to me that education will help him at all - maybe some electro-shock therapy would be more appropriate.

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Governor Crist has recommended more than $36 million for anti viral innoculations. The Legislature should follow his lead -- allowing the State of Florida to draw down federal dollars that we are in danger of losing if we don't act now.


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