Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 21 Flu Update

WHO describes itself as "scurrying" to get a bird flu vaccine agreement. Is there a reason for the urgency?

The strain of bird flu circulating in Thailand is amantadine resistant. This is important because WHO has recommended a combo amantadine-Tamiflu treatment regimen in some cases.

The ubiquitous "Reuters Box" on the global spread of flu.

Promed on the recent human cases in Egypt and Indonesia (reported in yesterday's update).

The UK Department of Health has released a bird flu strategic framework for bird flu.

More on Florida refusing bird flu help. (I wonder if this will generate five comments like the story on Sunday did).

Egypt has allocated funds for vaccinating birds against the flu.

Montana waterfowl are not carrying H5N1.

This article says that the global poultry industry is responsible for bird flu.

In Kaliningrad, they are shooting wild birds to try and keep the bird flu under control.

Myanmar culled 1,000 birds after a new outbreak.

I've avoided this story--the one that has people in Japan (is it always Japan or am I wrong?) where people are having reactions to Tamiflu and committing suicide, etc. I run it here because it was in Time and could be an excuse for Georgia and Florida to not purchase their Tamiflu.

In Hong Kong, there is a human case of the milder H9N2.

ProMed has this story.


At 7:38 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


You’re getting hard to keep up with there, with your good array of articles.

I liked your “scurrying” comment describing the WHO article activities to obtain an agreement that ensures developing countries most at risk from an influenza pandemic will get the vaccines they need. Embedded in the article are two small indicators that they are indeed concerned enough to scurry: indicator one is that WHO called a meeting in Jakarta next week to sort things out, indicator two is that the WHO Director-General herself is meeting with the CEO’s of all sixteen manufacturer’s that make vaccines, to discuss the dilemma. Whenever a big dog meets with other big dogs, it’s serious.

In the Thai article which indicates that the H5N1 Fujian-like strain there has become resistant to Amantadine, the medical professor Yong Poovorawan, states that, “the Nakhon Phanom strain (i.e. Thailand), is the same as the Fujian-like strain… which is also in (the Chinese provinces of) Anhui and Zhejiang and Laos”. Although, I personally believe he’s several Chinese provinces shy of the real number there – I wonder how he knows ? Serology studies perhaps or word-of-mouth ? No doubt, as the H5N1 strains mutate further, it will throw a wrinkle in the WHO recommended dual anti-viral approach. Already we are seeing Tamiflu resistant strains in Egypt, so we’d better get those 16 vaccine manufacturer CEO’s to step things up.

What can one say further about the state of Florida and Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernancia Beach, about their lack of participation in the federally subsidized Tamiflu pandemic drug purchase program ? If they fail to participate, this will be a bad economic, health care, social, moral and ethical decision on their part. All I can say to the federal government is lets surplus this Tamiflu and offer it up to private citizens like ourselves – I’ll even pay the going full commercial retail price of $ 110. Florida legislatures may be pretty dumbed down on the subject, but the rest of us aren’t. The money they believe they are saving now, they may be spending for more state funerals later on. What a trade.

Regarding the Russian specialists of the Veterinarian and Phytosanitary Control Service, shooting wild birds to stop the spread of bird flu, well, I guess it would be wise to stay out of their way. It has always been a cardinal rule of mine to stay well out of the way of all communist or former communist gun-toting people. Remember though, when S Korea experienced similar out breaks a few months ago, they exterminated nearly everything living within a 5 kilometer range of the epicenter – pets, pigs, birds, dogs, cats, rats, even mosquito’s if they could have caught them.

There is not much I can say anymore about the Japanese teenagers and their bizarre behavior which is associated with Tamiflu: “the FDA concluded that it could not conclude whether the events were due to the drug…”. I guess if we in the US and Canada have to give it out to about 100M people, we’d better keep the teenagers duck-taped up good, so they don’t jump out of buildings or in front of any auto’s.

The article “Bird flu-bonanza” article written by Sue Branford, was quite a read. Lots of inaccuracies, some good points, but a very laboriously written piece of work. Basically, I believe she’s dead wrong in her assumptions and premises that the guilty culprit in the spread of H5N1 is large agri-business and not backyard unregulated poultry , but – she represents a environmental/activist/naturalist NGO group, so that’s the agenda. I will say, to my knowledge, not one human being that I am aware that has actually contracted H5N1 and died, was associated with a large commercial poultry operation. All of them so far have been indigent back-yard type poultry farmers.

Snippet: some side information…

In the news yesterday was quiet information that the current Bush administration plans to more than double the emergency petroleum stockpile in Texas, Louisiana, and open up a new storage site in Mississippi. I believe federal officials are now comprehending how vulnerable the US is to disruptions in the world oil supplies (whatever the reason).

Also in the news was a FedEx Express announcement that they will offer next-business day domestic express service to over 200 cities in China, starting May 28th. This hub-and-spoke system will be located in Hangzhou Xiaoshan Int’l Airport, in Zhejiang province, on the east coast, to support China’s burgeoning supply chains. They will process over 9,000 packages per hour. FedEx already offers daily to-from flights to China for passengers and packages. The world is getting a lot smaller.

If a pandemic originates in Indo-China or the Middle East, I wouldn’t want to own any FedEx or Exxon Mobile stock.

Not that it would matter a great deal, if millions of people are dying and sick.



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