Friday, March 23, 2007

March 23 Flu Update

The UN, at least, says there is progress in the vaccine talks with Indonesia.

Saudi Arabia has its first avian outbreak with a single reported case in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Bangladesh also had its first outbreak. (CIDRAP reports--also includes news from Saudi Arabia and Myanmar).

Today's reports say Thailand is going to continue to share samples, contrary to some earlier reports (CIDRAP).

With avian outbreaks in the Pakistani capital, local law enforcement has been trained in handling and disposing of birds.

It is not lost on India that bird flu is all around them.

The Trust for America's Health estimates bird flu losses by state--and forecasts that the bird flu could cause a possible recession. The upshot is that the study says tourism states would be hit hardest--not a bad assumption. I've done something a little different here--I've linked to a Google search of this topic, because there are stories for many states.

The Philippines continue to insist that "strict" measures can control the bird flu.

McCook County, NE, wonders if we can ever be ready enough for bird flu.

Ontario has a public health authority doing bird flu planning.

Canada is investing $2 million in influenza drugs.

A pandemic flu seminar is slated for May in Joplin, MO.

Scientists are using grid computing to work on pandemic problems.


At 11:06 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Good to see you back at the keyboard again.

I noticed your UN article doesn’t specifically name which four Asian countries it intends to establish “in-country” manufacturing capacity in, for vaccines production. I believe one of them to be Laos, from other news reports. I notice Japan and the US have stepped up to the plate, willing to fund the Global Action Plan, but I wonder where all the other affluent world nations are at ? I also wonder whether the disfunctional Indonesian government is on the list to develop vaccine production capability – in my view, they seem to lack the national will, oversight or inclination, to do almost anything in regards to adequate prevention and control of the H5N1 virus (unless its given to them). They are good at whining though – they are the absolute world’s champions.

I do hope that these four countries institute bio-security measures in place in these new manufacturing plants. After all, they will be located in some of the most turbulent political and radical extremist places in the world. Certain radical fundamentalist "religious" groups (I use that term loosely) that we are all familiar with, would love to get their hands on deadly novel influenza strains.

I also see in your news articles that Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are now the newest entrants into the world’s select group of H5N1 infected countries. Actually other news reports indicated that both outbreaks occurred as long as a month ago, they kept it quiet, and they are just now just getting around to announcing it. That’s great for the rest of us schmucks. I noticed also the official communique’ out of India is that they “continue to be free of bird flu”, but they have placed their states surrounding Burma, Pakistan and Bangladesh, on full alert. In my mind, there is no way in hell that India does not have infected birds – they just haven’t spotted the dead birds, or they simply haven’t reported them yet. The cards don’t add up at all when it comes to India.

I believe it was a very smart move for Thailand to disassociate themselves from Indonesia, with their announcement that they would continue to share H5N1 virus samples. This will keep them off the international “ least favored nation" feces/doo-doo list, where Indonesia current holds the number one ranking position. Thailand needs to step up their control measures like the Philippines, and use them as a good example of responsibility and proactiveness.

I always find your articles about local preparations quite interesting, because they nearly always provide a sense of whether or not these cities and counties are taking preparations seriously, or just going through the motions. In this case, comparatively, between McCook County, NE, Ontario, Canada and Joplin, Mo, it was pretty easy – little Joplin Missouri “gets it” and are actively involving and integrating their businesses, schools and churches, and is even setting up a pandemic website for local critical information collection and dissemination. Neither Ontario or McCook County seem to have a clue, and Peel, Ontario seems to very proud of updating their “ 121 page living pandemic document”. Good Lord.

Every state has old cemeteries where one simply has to walk a short distance and spot the numerous graves of an unusual high number of young people who died from the 1918 great influenza. It’s not unique to Nebraska. I have walked through about ten of them in my lifetime in three different states and have noticed these graves also. More people need to take notice.

I have read the Trust for America Health estimates of bird flu economic losses by states, and found this mildly interesting, because quite frankly, I think things like tourism will be the least of everyone’s worries when a pandemic occurs. These older economic and social paradigm’s of "concerns" will fall by the wayside when the pandemic occurs.

Absolutely, in my view, the most interesting of your articles, that everyone needs to pay close attention to, is your last one, entitled, “Global Computer Grid to Analyze Bird Flu”. Read the article carefully, for it is far more than an “ integrated computational environment to support easy access to a set of universal tools, novel algorithmic approaches and tracking mechanisms for reproducibility at a global level”. It is essentially an avian influenza early warning system being established. It is funded by the Telemedicine and Advanced Research Technology Research Center (TATRC), part of the DOD, via the Army. This is a very super sophisticated state-of-the-art, web-based and linked multi-national system (what we call real-time bioinfomatics genome reporting) being put in place, to circumvent the current archaic and sporadic WHO system of influenza strain surveillance, analysis and reporting.

Speaking of which, Orange, I need to relay some information on to you, but keep it on the down-low. There has been a significant increase in pandemic planning activities within other military branches of the DOD, within the last thirty days. Real preparation activity: not contracts being awarded, not paper documents, not philosophical what-if type discussions. People being deployed and reassignments. As Niman always says, “this is cause for concern”. It is being kept very quiet, but Wulfgang notices and hears things of a serious nature. Preparations and planning activities have accelerated dramatically, well outside the norm. This is a fact. This is not a rumor.

I would suggest that everyone exercise diligence and heighten their awareness and review their preparations at this time. I am being quite serious and I have reason to say this.

There is no reason for alarm, but if one hasn’t started preparations for a pandemic, in my view, they should start doing so.



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