Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21 Flu Update

The OIE director says 2007 data indicates bird flu may be reaching the end of a cycle, and that countries have shown they can overcome avian outbreaks.

“In the first half of 2007, countries reported fewer deaths of wild and migratory birds, which could indicate the disease is coming closer to the end of a cycle. Reversely poultry flocks still continue to be infected in some countries and that shows the international community needs to keep up its high level of prevention and control measures of the disease in animals,” commented Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE.

CIDRAP had this story as well. Here is what Dr. Osterholm said...

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP News, said the presence of disease cycles in birds should not be interpreted to mean H5N1 does or doesn't still pose a risk. "Like any other disease, there are ebbs and flows," he said, adding that as birds which build up immunity to the virus die off, the new populations that replace them are vulnerable to avian flu, which then can lead to a surge in wild bird cases.

Vietnam has had 1,900 ducks die in the last week from avian flu.

There's a reported avian outbreak in a new area of Ghana.

CIDRAP on recently reported outbreaks in several countries.

India remains on high alert, surrounded by flu outbreaks.

Australian article on role a vaccine would play in preventing a pandemic.

The UN urges Bangladesh to move on bird flu.

CIDRAP reports on OSHA guidance to protect healthcare workers. Note this:

Guidance on personal protective equipment is consistent with other OSHA and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advisories, Wright said. Though the HHS pandemic influenza plan does not recommend goggles and face shields for routine care of patients with pandemic influenza, OSHA advises that workers who are within 3 feet of a coughing patient should wear those items.

Here's a link to the actual document.

Revere blogs a new journal article which tries to figure out why there is a flu it the host, the virus? What? (Hint: the article says it is complicated with multiple factors). Revere notes if we really did find out the answer, it might save a lot of lives.

ProMed on the story we ran on Ghana having no novel strain of flu.

Bird flu readiness is tested in New Zealand.

An avian vaccine in Australia is getting top results.

A children's story is being used to teach about the bird flu.


At 6:28 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Two of your articles you posted today, stand out in direct contrast to each other – the OIE FAO article, and the CIDRAP article.

The OIE article reads like a public relations press release with a distinct European slant, lauding their worldwide veterinary health services, and states we may be nearing the “end of cycle” (whatever that means). The CIDRAP article, almost in direct contradiction, cautions and reminds everyone, that even though fewer H5N1 infected migratory birds were reported in the first half of 2007, we are not out of danger. Bravo for Michael Osterholm.

All one has to do is look at today’s May 22nd world headlines, to realize that there is no end to any cycle since the virus has already gained the ability to infect a very large number of hosts:

• Ghana reports second outbreak in poultry

• Vietnam report further outbreaks in duck farms across several provinces

• Bangladesh H5N1 situation is seriously bordering on endemic

• Bird flu is resurfacing in Pakistan

• H5N1 outbreaks in poultry being reported in Hunan Province, China

In addition, pathogenic avian influenza remains endemic in actually four countries: Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, and China. Migratory and poultry that survive infection both excrete the H5N1 virus for at least 10 days which almost guarantees the infections in the future will continue.

My opinion is that it is really unfortunate that there are these types of conflicting messages released to the public when it comes to H5N1 and the threat of pandemic. This only adds fuel to public complacency, which leads to further apathy.

Nothing has really changed with the H5N1 virus – it continues to mutate, and it slowly is enveloping the entire world continents. According to the world’s foremost experts and most knowledgeable government agencies – another pandemic is inevitable and possibly imminent.

All it takes is any one of these four endemic countries to lose control on any particular day, and a pandemic is unleashed which will become unstoppable. The virus mutates rapidly and is clearly able to acquire genes from viruses inflecting other animal species.

I really wish the UN would get their message straight and consistent. Most people simply do not understand how overwhelmed the health care system would become if there was a novel flu pandemic. Contrary to popular opinion, there will be few warning signs before the pandemic strikes. Once it starts, the global spread of a pandemic can’t be stopped.

But adequate preparation will reduce its impact and maybe save your life.



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home