Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March 6 Flu Update

China is now reporting an outbreak of bird flu in Tibet (it was at a poultry market, so it is hard to determine where it came from).

Bird flu is 20Km from Hanoi.

CIDRAP with this must read. Journal of Infectious Diseases undertakes a very careful look at the 1918 flu and what we can learn from it. Especially note their critical look at some dogmatic views of the pandemic.

With the flu breaking out in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has instituted flu emergency procedures.

Scientists in Australia doing an experiment with wild ducks may have been accidentally exposed to bird flu.

Scientific American reports on the GSK flu vaccine (multiple strains).

Exactly how the adjuvant system works remains a mystery as well—even more so because GSK will not reveal what adjuvant system it used, revealing only that there are 25 new adjuvants being analyzed. "Does it somehow cause a whole new spectrum of shapes on the surface proteins of the flu virus to be recognized? Or does it increase the amplitude of the immune response?" Innis asks. "Those tests haven't been done yet, but effects that are present at very low doses with the adjuvant system are almost completely absent at eight times that dose without the adjuvant system." Its effectiveness is clear: the immune response in human blood was 25 times stronger with the adjuvant present than without it.

CIDRAP also reports on the GSK vaccine.

From Uganda, an article with facts on the bird flu.

BioCryst has a deal in Japan for bird flu therapy.

Author Michael Greger will speak to school administrators in Binghampton.

Bird flu article for the real estate industry--very interesting in fact, how a pandemic might effect people differently.

Building owners and property managers are particularly vested since any potential disaster affects every aspect of their job, from building operations to tenant safety to business continuity.

A Brazilian company is also producing vaccines against the bird flu.


At 9:20 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Good set of articles as usual.

My only comment on the article reporting numerous H5N1 related poultry and wild bird deaths, is that it is, well, not surprising. As I have been reiterating over the last week or so, this is very near the “Chinese golden diagonal” where the H5N1 is virtually embedded and serves as an incubator for the novel avian viruses. In this instance, Lhasa, the capital of Tibet is only no more than 500 miles distance from three profusely contaminated adjacent Chinese provinces: Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Sichuan.

Expect more outbreaks from the areas and countries, surrounding the “big eight” Chinese provinces in the oncoming weeks (including Guangdong). They may temporarily halt the deaths by inoculating over 1 billion poultry in the oncoming weeks, but they can’t stop the virus shedding. As the article states,” Some scientists believe many outbreaks of bird flu in China’s vast poultry sector have gone unreported until human infections in effected areas have alerted health officials to the presence of the virus”.

I know you and some readers think I’m obsessed with China, however, in my mind it’s like this: over one billion people + over 1 billion poultry + over 10 million swine = one gigantic mixing bowl for avian influenza. If you have time, check out the following Aug and Nov 2005 China articles and the provinces:

Pigs in China's Hunan Province Test Positive for Bird Flu

Swine flu numbers still rising, but China insists disease is under control

I am really surprised at the CIDRAP article and authors: how many times is the 1918/1919 pandemic going to be studied, pondered and re-hashed ? I agree 100% with Dr. Michael Osterholm’s statement, that “In terms of the developed world’s ability to respond versus the developing world’s, I think they (the authors) have it 180 degrees backward”. Let’s put it this way, to most of the people living in most third world countries in mud huts, an influenza pandemic will be no different than any of the other infectious diseases on their daily agenda’s. To the entire western world, which is mostly unprepared for anything beyond a Cat 1 or 2, a pandemic will translate into social and economic chaos – all these affluent countries simply have a much farther distance to fall.

The vaccine articles are quite interesting. I agree with your comment the other day – why is the US stockpiling the French Sanofi-Aventis vaccine ? Beats the hell out of me when the GSK looks to be obviously superior. Some of us may have to take a quick cross-border trip to Canada to get the GSK vaccine if a pandemic materializes. I see also the Japanese are not putzing around when it comes to antivirals, with their licensing deal with BioCryst – they obviously want first dibs on peramivir (let’s hope it will stop the flying lessons from buildings). The US FDA will still be considering approval of the vaccine, while Japan will have already taken delivery on the first 20 million doses. In the avian vaccine business, if you “snooze, you lose”.

I wondered who Dr. Michael Greger is. His biography states that he is a GP specializing in clinical nutrition and founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. He is also a “physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues”. He is also the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the US. Just what I like, a true fee-seeking capitalist entrepreneur physician who qualifies as another “world-wide expert on bird flu”.

The real estate industry emergency preparedness article made a lot of good points. I wonder though, what their procedure will be, if a protracted pandemic occurs, involving incapacitated, elderly and disabled individuals who will be unable to care for themselves ? What will they do with these individuals – nail their front door shut so they don’t have to deal with them ? Who takes care of them ?

As the old saying goes: Most of the time we think we're sick, it's all in the mind.

But it won’t be imaginary during a pandemic.



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