Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 30 Flu Update

Indonesia reports its second bird flu death in less than two weeks.

The news from Vietnam is not good. Bird flu threatens to rage out of control in birds, though the most recent human case is improving. Note WHO is not alarmed.

ProMed on the spread of flu in Vietnam.

WHO on the sick soldier in China--note no known contact with sick poultry.

Contrary to the stories that say flu is subsiding, this from Boston Globe reminds everyone the flu marches on and is a persistent foe.

"We're clearly getting a sense that there's fatigue after several years of reporting this disease," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.

"I'm very concerned."

Indonesia says Baxter is taking its new vaccine right to the source of the problem...Indonesia.

Baxter denies.

More on a mild flu pandemic (Wales).

Canary in the mine--sick healthcare worker in Wales.

A second farm in Wales is cleared of bird flu.

A starling in Holland is being tested for bird flu.

More on NZ flu exercises--things are said to have gone well.

Azerbaijan is starting up its bird flu surveillance this Fall.

Study says more than 3 million businesses in UK are at risk for "melt down" if a pandemic strikes.

Maybe they should sign up here! CIDRAP is holding a pandemic planning workshop for business.


At 6:19 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I would like to comment on the remark made by Michael Osterholm, “ We’re clearly getting a sense of that there’s fatigue after several years of reporting this disease”, and his concern. This situation is not unexpected.

I believe he is correct in his assessment, unfortunately, because bird flu and the threat of a pandemic – are being overshadowed by other more pressing virulent health issues. For example, both Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and Extensively Drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), and HIV/AIDS, represent more of an immediate threat to most individuals, than avian influenza. It is estimated that up to 50M people worldwide may be infected with XDR-TB, and 300,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. It is currently unknown how many individuals are actually infected with XDR-TB, but it is alarmingly on the rise also. Over 49M people in the world today have HIV/AIDS. By the year 2010, it is expected that five countries alone (Ethiopia, China, India, Nigeria, and Russia), who represent 40% of the worlds population, will add an additional 50-75M HIV infected persons.

Unfortunately, with infected TB and HIV/AIDS numbers as high as this, bird flu doesn’t hit the radar screen, only superficially, in most person’s minds. To most individuals in the western world and Europe, bird flu is a manageable “bird epidemic” for the most part, and doesn’t concern them. After all, it’s confined to third world under-developed countries, it mostly affects people who have direct contact with infected birds which are kept in their homes or workplaces, and it’s controlled quite well with poultry vaccination and Tamiflu (so far).

So, in my mind, it is a matter of perception: it is an issue over what APPEARS to be most infectious to human individuals at the moment, not which disease has the most significant potential to disrupt or meltdown societies, in the quickest amount of time.

In a cognitive sense, people respond to “visual” stimuli which represent immediate type threats: examples are, 9-11 terrorists and type events, hurricanes (Katrina-like), floods, fires, tsunami’s, blizzards, volcano’s and earthquakes. I would venture to say that 300+ human victims worldwide, attributed to a novel H5N1 avian virus, to most people, does not represent an immediate threat to their existence. What’s more, given the fact that nobody can even accurately predict the severity or timing of the influenza pandemic (even down to a year), causes it to end up a distraction, in most minds.

Do I agree with this “fatigue” phenomenon ? Of course not. I personally believe that an influenza pandemic, even a series of devastating pandemics, will occur, that will shake society to it roots in the next oncoming years. Statistically, these influenza pandemics will cause mortalities that far over-shadow TB and HIV/AIDS, and all other natural calamities combined – but that is just my opinion.

In my mind, the present situation as described by Dr. Osterholm as influenza pandemic “fatigue”, is only temporary complacency, and probably caused by the WHO’s own track record of success to date, in containing the number of human avian influenza cases to a minimum. But the luck will run out someday soon - someone, somewhere, will eventually sneeze and cough the novel avian virus into a crowd, and start the plague in motion.

Influenza pandemics will prove to be the real “widow and orphan makers” of the early 21st century. Yep, you heard this term here, first, folks…by


At 4:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many millions of TB deaths will it take to get the same coverage as bird flu? I guess one guy who boarded a plane across the world finally woke people up to the TB pandemic.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Orange said...

You got me. This is a flu blog. You might try starting a TB Blog.


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