Thursday, April 05, 2007

April 4 Flu Update

Well, shows what I know. The four Bangladeshi who were suspected of having bird flu are now confirmed. They were working to cull birds in Kuwait. This is pretty unusual and might well be significant.

(Update: I knew this sounded fishy. They are now negative.)

CIDRAP on the Indonesian and Kuwaiti situations.

ProMed also has Kuwait news, and an interesting tidbit that a woman in Indonesia might have been infected by her pet eagle.

Bangladesh is struggling, but bird flu continues to spread.

Migratory birds have been found to have bird flu in Hong Kong, and they wonder what is going on with China.

Okay. Thailand has possession of a rare vulture from Mongolia. It is a zoo loan. Bird flu is changing plans about when it can be sent back.

There's going to be a bird flu lecture at the University of Georgia.

The OIE has a new AI web portal.

Suffolk VA is working through the pandemic at a local school district.

Revere blogs on the antiviral resistance issue from previous posts.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


In my opinion, the “on again, off again” H5N1 test diagnosis of the four Bangladeshi men in Kuwait, is indeed a little fishy. Notice, once again, the negative confirmation is coming from the WHO reference laboratory in, guess where – Egypt itself. Not that someone like me would question their expertise or motives, let’s just say, this in-country process or “re-verification” by both Egypt and Indonesia, without independent validation, is questionable, and can be characterized by “The Success of Failure”.

Your article on Bangladesh, which states that “bird flu has spread to a new poultry farm despite the best efforts of struggling veterinary and health workers” - is concerning. The news after you posted this article, indicates that it is even spreading further. If I were sitting in India right now, I would be starting to worry a little, along with my other 1B other Indian homies.

The most controversial article amongst your many, is the AsiaNews article, which seems to confirm what many of us readers have been suspecting for months, if not years, about China: the ranking in order of scientists top three major concerns, are according to the article (not me this time) -

1.Hong Kong sources confirm that diseased migratory birds died in large numbers in periods when China did not report any infections in the area (not a surprise).

2.They fear that the virus is far more widespread than official Chinese data claims, given the lack of information forthcoming from Beijing regarding new cases of infection among poultry and humans (not a surprise either).

3.The scientific community now suspects that China has not been transparent about its mapping of the virus (most of us are shocked the bulb now has finally lit).

Of course the Chinese Agriculture Minister defined the research data as “false” and the viral strain (Fujian) “non-existent”. Another characterization of this situation is once again, “The Success of Failure”. The ultimate hilarity and irony in this whole situation, is China’s official reason for not permitting the young rare vulture to be transported via Thai Airways through their country – “they are concerned about the bird flu situation in Thailand”. In Thailand ? If that buzzard ever lands in China someday, it’s a death sentence.

Finally, your Suffolk VA, article about their school district pandemic preparedness planning efforts, has an interesting paragraph, that states, “… a partnership with the local health department to develop a surveillance system that would alert the department to a substantial increase in absenteeism among students and staff would be helpful as well”.

I hope they realize a couple of fundamental things, if a pandemic situation emerges:

1.It is sudden, deadly and swift – unlike an ordinary localized or regional flu epidemic.

2.Most of the absenteeism will be initially caused by parents withholding their children, en mass, due to panic. That’s what parents do now, similarly with outbreaks of meningitis, TB and other highly communicable diseases.

3.Regular surveillance techniques used by school districts and health authorities to identify normal flu epidemics, work quite well. But during a pandemic, they become pretty meaningless, at least in my opinion, because it will massively spreading, country-to-country, and continent-to-continent, by its very nature.

Finally, it took a little re-reading to find it, but to me, the most important sentence in the Revere article, reads as follows, “ Even if resistant strains emerge do novo at extremely low frequencies in individuals receiving antiviral drugs for treatment or prophylaxis, these strains may well make a significant contribution in an epidemic or pandemic setting”.

Reminds me of an old saying from my biology courses in college, which goes something like this -

“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishment - there are only consequences”.



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