Monday, October 15, 2007

October 15 Flu Update

CIDRAP on the death in Indonesia.

Also ProMed on the same topic.

The student paper at Illinois State states concern about bird flu.

Thailand and Laos are working together to fight bird flu.

Korea is also planning its bird flu prevention measures.

Vietnam has some new flu technology.

Science and the flu--at war once more.


At 6:31 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


One of the most disturbing aspects of bird flu found in your CIDRAP and ProMED articles is the suddenness by which a patient’s health can change course. For example, the poor 12-year-old lad was showing “great improvement” and “rising white-blood cell count” one day, and literally the next day he’s deceased. Unfortunately this kind of scenario plays out, repeatedly with H5N1 infected victims. It indicates to me that in general, people do not thoroughly understand the lethality of the H5N1 virus, and the resultant secondary health complications which require further intensive medical life support procedures. Generally, if the Tamiflu doesn’t kick in and do its thing – the person is history.

If the current strain of this virus became highly contagious, and the Tamiflu firewall is ineffective, there is no way in Hades that any health care system could keep up. Anybody who things otherwise is smoking some cheap dope.

It looks to me from your articles today on Thailand and Korea, that they are getting their act together: Thailand has a whopping 800,000 public health volunteers spread out through their country, and Korea offers a $ 1,090 “finders fee” for reporting suspicious poultry deaths. Compared to Indonesia, these two countries look like a set of virtual Vulcan genius’s (a la Star Trek).

I really liked your Missoulian “Scientists, flu renew annual combat”, article. It’s just a darn good summary of all the facts and issues surrounding the entire topic of influenza. One of the peculiar things it points out is the following: we have not done near enough to monitor influenza in pigs around the world. Antigenic shift in swine is what is believed to have caused the Asian flu pandemic in 1957 and the 1968 Hong Kong flu.

As the article further points out… antigenic shift in swine is suspected to be the primary cause of pandemics, the mutated virus “pops up” without warning, the “consequences can be dramatic”.

So what’s particularly troubling with our present H5N1 scenario is this: are we spending too much time analyzing bird data, and not enough time investigating other mammalian likely vectors of infection, like pigs (nature’s perfect viral mixing vessel) ?

Does China and PRRS come to anybody’s mind? As far as any one knows, the massive pig deaths are still a mystery, and the disease is spreading throughout Asia.



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