March 26 Flu UpdateThe NY Times weighs in with the question many people are asking...what is the bird flu doing? Is more going on than we see or know? Here is the key conclusion, certain to be controversial:
Today’s H5N1 flu is probably changing more slowly, because health officials have been vigilant about attacking clusters of cases, which presumably wipes out the most dangerous strains. Whenever several human cases appear, even in remote villages in Indonesia or Egypt, local officials and World Health Organization teams move in to kill all the local poultry and dose all the humans with antiviral drugs — the so-called Tamiflu blanket strategy.
Each stifled outbreak robs the virus of the chance to carom wildly through dozens of human hosts as it does in a flock of chickens or ducks. That fends off what virologists most fear: gene-swapping in people infected with both human and avian flu.
ProMed on Egypt and Hong Kong.
Given problems with its neighbors, India continues to be concerned about poultry imports.
Despite bird outbreaks, Bangladesh says no human cases.
This is interesting. In Canada, representatives of the food industry are thinking through how to handle food shortages during a pandemic.
"In a modern-day, just-in-time food-supply chain, also drawing inputs and ingredients from across the world, such [a] pandemic would not only have severe public-health implications but also pose significant economic impacts and challenges across the entire agri-food continuum," says a federal discussion guide written last year.
Anchorage has been working for a year on its bird flu plan, and it is continuing to work.
Some passengers grew ill on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark. Next thing you know "The Federal Centers for Disease Control sent members of its Global Migration and Quarantine Office from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Newark to check out the passengers, reports the Newark Star Ledger."
The great vaccine debate continues. Helen Branswell here. You will recall that Revere noted that it doesn't make sense to argue so much about so little--since production capacity for vaccines is so low. According to Branswell, WHO is trying to carry that message in a meeting with nations on the vaccine.
UNICEF says children are most vulnerable to the flu.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is holding a pandemic planning seminar for colleges.