Friday, April 06, 2007

April 5 Flu Update

A 2-year old girl in Egypt has bird flu, but is said to be stable.

Perhaps our most significant story, via ProMed. Reports from Hong Kong report continued non-transparency from China.

Hong Kong sources confirm that diseased migratory birds died in large numbers in periods when China did not report any infections in the area. 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. Hong Kong has halted imports of live poultry and poultry meat from 13provinces, where infection has been confirmed.

Saudi Arabia is working to prevent bird flu.

CIDRAP on the negatives in Kuwait, and a lab confirmation in Indonesia.

ProMed on the same two things. Note the moderator taking a victory lap for calling the negative tests.

Here's a guy in Dubai who got chicken pox and thought he had bird flu. No, this is not an episode of I Love Lucy.

Turkey says it is free of bird flu and is lifting quarantine measures.

The US Ambassador of Bird flu had this Q&A Coffee Break with a State Department reporter.

Sweden is working on the bird flu.

Canada is investing $5M in flu measures.

Editorial praises flu prep efforts in Utah.

Vietnam says it has enough Tamiflu. End of story.

Revere on the Kuwaiti, "now they are positive, now they are not."

I don't run many of these Tamiflu stories about the psychiatric effects, but here is a dramatic one: South Korea has banned teenagers from taking the drug.


At 12:42 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Of course it is a matter of opinion, but probably in my mind, the most significant article in your list today, is out of Utah, and the Hong Kong article looks like it’s a close second.

What make the Salt Lake Tribune article most significant in my mind is the direct and simple message from Governor Jon Huntsman, about taking personal responsibility: that preparedness is not only a government function, and that Utah medical care, communications and essential community services such as food, water, power, transportation and medical supplies, are to have emergency plans ready.

This guy should run for president, but because he is such a strong advocate for personal responsibility, he would never get elected. Just look what’s happened to Bill Cosby for speaking out about taking personal responsibility.

I believe what is significant is about your Hong Kong article, is the fact that these two HK scientists, along with Robert Webster no less, are willing to take on the China transparency issue and speak out. HK currently, along with Macau, are two “Special Administrative Regions” (SAR’s – no pun intended) of the PRC, so I believe the HK government believes they still have enough autonomy and independence to speak openly about the issue. What is truly significant about HK assertions, is that if anybody should know the real “inside edition”, they would, without a doubt. Also, what was surprising, is the actual number of provinces where individual human cases have died in mainland China since October, 2005, listed in the article, is double my own estimate.

The Chinese have essentially snubbed their nose at the rest of the world, when it comes to reporting H5N1 bird and human cases, timely and accurately. Incidentally, HK is only about 50 miles from famous Guangdong Province, the alleged “epicenter” of infestation.

Regarding the four Bangladeshi poultry laborers, and the doctor in Indonesia (and in many other suspected human cases, including Egypt), it is quite easy to see a pattern emerging, with the multiple confusing tests results being given to determine whether or not the subjects are H5N1 infected or not. In my opinion, by using the Tamiflu prophylactically, the results are turning up negative, since the drug essentially is reducing their viral load so low, that it becomes undetectable upon later tests. Since they are in essence, then asymptomatic, they are being declared “bird flu negative”. The ProMed moderator can claim a “victory lap” for his easy prediction and seemingly quick victory, however, I predict at some point in the future he will end up in with the “pit crew”, as the virus strengthens its resistance through further mutations, or, the dosages of Tamiflu have to be strengthened significantly further, in attempts to subdue the disease. I truly feel that we are in uncharted territory with the massive use of Tamiflu around the world, which seems to be the course we are now vigorously pursuing, and at some point in the future, we will awaken a sleeping giant.

The Saudi’s do indeed have one of the world’s most stringent biotic security measures and procedures in the world. Very impressive. They have about the same amount of security around their chicken operations as we do around our nuclear power plants in the US. I happened to be in that area 30 years ago when these poultry farms first started, they were impressive then, and I imagine they are much more impressive now – of course, the Saudi royal family can afford anything they want or need, and then some.

The US States Department coffee break interview with Ambassador John Lange, was kind of interesting. One particular paragraph is quite significant within the article: it reads, “ The US Government’s national strategy has the Secretary of State coordinating our international engagement. And so my office is really an interagency office that works very closely with the DHHS, USDA, ISAID, DOD, DHS and others”.

For those who aren’t used to government speak, it translates as follows: “Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and the State Department are responsible to the president for coordination of our bird flu preparations and efforts. As such, she has established an extensive elaborate surveillance and reporting network throughout the world, through the agencies I just named, and many other sources I am not at liberty to disclose”. I’ve said it before on several occasions, and I will say it again, if you want a real “heads up” type warning when something breaks on the bird flu front, it will come from the State Department.

Finally, I’m sure everyone who read it, found the article about the poor guy from Dubai who had the chicken pox, who then called the Dubai “Bird Flu Hotline”, amusing, because he thought he had bird flu.

This must have been a situation like our “Butterball Turkey Hotline” we have here in the US every year around Thanksgiving – it attracts all kinds of weird questions and situations, every year.

Reminds me of an old saying, though, “There is nothing so absurd or ridiculous that has not at some time been said by some philosopher”.



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