Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 19 Flu Update

ProMed says that the cull in China is over 150,000 and could reflect a lack of confidence in their own vaccinations.

The EU is seeking new tools for fighting bird flu.

Could you develop a super chicken that would react quicker to bird flu, and thereby provide early warning?

Welsh firms realize they could be in trouble during a pandemic.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Guangzhou, China again, arghhh! Your Promed article has two very worrisome aspects to it:

1. The fact that they are destroying (culling) chickens, ducks and doves, en masse, gives me an uneasy feeling that the outbreak is very widespread in their provincial poultry population, maybe even perhaps in other provinces. That is, the infestation is wider than they are admitting and they are indeed very unsure about what went terribly awry with their vaccination procedures. Possibly, wrong vaccine, mismatched, or the dreaded mutation, all theories at this point, but quite plausible.

2. The blood check of the 68 poultry farmers indicates that “they were found to be in good condition”. So, what does this mean ? Are they positive with the virus, negative, or what ? This is typical government-speak for, “we aren’t going to tell you anything, as usual”.

Your EU article about their “new tools” they are considering implementing to control the spread of H5 and H7, has a lot of the usual nice sounding words (“rapid response network, streamlined and harmonized animal health laws, etcetera”), but the article really doesn’t say a lot or have much substatnce. Where are the farm bio-security measures and standards ? Where are the regulatory health inspections ? What exactly are the measures to improve bio-security and improve cross-country movement of people and agricultural goods ? The article leaves the reader with a heck of a lot more questions, than answers.

Revere as usual wrote a great article on the theoretical use of “super sentinel chickens”. Unfortunately, at least in my view, this approach might at best be only practical in western well-developed large commercial farm operations. It would not be practical in most of the Asian countries, where virtually every Tom, Dick and Harry and all their cousins, have flocks of free ranging poultry in their back yards, mingling with wild birds, pigs, dogs, and cats. There is far too high a volume of poultry in the Asian countries, billions of them turning over every year, for this approach to work. – they couldn’t keep up.

And the country of Wales, what is there left to say about their sad situation when it comes to pandemic preparation ? Assuming the survey information is correct, 83% of businesses have no plans in place and 77% are unaware of any plans to stockpile vaccines or antiviral medicines. I wonder what those people are thinking (if at all) ?

Wales sounds like a classic Las Vegas gambling situation: the government and health officials obviously don’t believe a pandemic is a likelihood or risk, in fact, they are betting that nothing will occur – kind of like Y2K or Swine Flu situation.

When it comes to the economic effects of a severe pandemic, they should keep the old business adage in mind that most of us learned a long time ago, the hard way:

A recession is when “everybody else is unemployed”. A depression is when “I myself am out of work” and my business folds. Maybe George Abercrombie, President and CEO of Hoffmann-La Roche, should pay the Welsh businesses a visit and give one of warning talks while he’s making his circuit.



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