Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 10 Flu Update

Bird flu continues to spread in Bangladesh.

Two more Malaysians report to the hospital with symptoms.

With two new human cases in Vietnam, WHO says not to worry.

Vietnam continues to be on the alert for bird flu.


At 6:16 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I have having a little heartburn of concern about your news out of Vietnam. From your article, it appears the government is moving in the direction of trying to change their culture to one of “killing poultry for table at slaughter houses, instead of doing it by themselves at home”. I’m wondering if this is truly the right approach to the problem.

Recall Revere’s excellent article several days ago, about the Chinese study between Oct 2005 and October 2006, where he indicated that investigative data of 20 infected patients showed that wet poultry markets there were definitely proven to be a high risk factor in the spread of H5N1 human infections.

Recall also the problems that Indonesian is currently experiencing: poultry are dying left and right in the remote villages as never seen before, and the fear is that healthy-looking (but asymptomatically H5N1 infected) poultry are shedding viruses and increasing the risk of human infection. (Of course there are far greater numbers of chickens living in close proximity to people there).

Recall still, the problem with many of the Chinese infected patients over the last year (including the 19 yr old soldier that just died) is that there was very little direct connection or contact of these folks with dead poultry, sick poultry in their homes or neighborhoods, or with other infected people.

The use of slaughter houses might be the right answer to controlling Vietnam’s H5N1 infection problems, providing they institute the necessary bio-security measures, to ensure no human infections. This will have to be an extremely rigid and continual oversight control system, monitored by the animal health and government authorities, in order to be effective, in my opinion. Without this tight control, all they will end up with is high risk wet markets, like in China, with the end result being continued human infections.

The fact that the WHO says there is “no new evidence that the H5N1 virus has become more easily transmittable from poultry to humans”, is not comforting at all, to me. It just means that they have not received any evidence and they are not aware of any changes in the virus. It’s analogous to me stating, “ there is no new evidence burglaries have gone up in my neighborhood” – which is a true statement, because I’m not aware of thefts increasing – however, burglaries may well be skyrocketing around me, I just haven’t seen any evidence of it yet.

Actually, the biggest problem I see occurring amongst all these countries, is that critical H5N1 virus information sharing (like wet markets) and developing a cohesive long term strategy that is universally shared, appears to be non-existent. Countries like China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh are naturally gravitating towards self serving immediate solutions that appear only achievable in the relatively short term. The longer term priorities are mostly being ignored.

This lack of information sharing and longer term planning, almost ensures that chaos will reign, when the pandemic begins sparking into flames.



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