Saturday, November 17, 2007

November 16 Flu Update

ProMed on a suspected cluster in Vietnam that doesn't pan out.

A Dutch transport is stopped on suspicion of transporting bird flu to UK.

Article on poultry workers in Britain not receiving a bird flu vaccine....excuse me? What vaccine?

The second farm in Britain is apparently flu-free.

A poultry show has been canceled in Britain.

UK Farming group critiques government efforts...

Cull in Saudi Arabia now reaches 90,000 birds.

Report on bird flu precautions in Kuwait.

Surveillance in Alaska reveals no bird flu.

UK RAF base talks about its pandemic plan.

Flu meeting touts importance of education in North and South America.

Blog reader Dr. Greger discusses A Virus of Our Own Hatching in Mother Jones.


At 7:16 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I find your article about the USDA and US Fish and Wildlife Service test results of the Alaska wild birds very misleading. Although no HPAI was allegedly found, it is very common as a result of USDA test activity over the last several years to find LPAI strains of H1N1, H4N1, H6N2, H5N3, and of course H5N1. It is important to note the following rules used that are used in determining whether the bird virus is HPAI or LPAI:

• Rapid screening tests are extremely sensitive and it is not uncommon to have positive results for a specific subtype on the initial screen test and yet not be able to isolate a virus of that subtype.

• Virus isolation testing is the actual “gold standard” to diagnose AI viruses, and are conducted at approved National Veterinary Services Labs – however, these test cannot determine whether the virus is HPAI or LPAI.

• According to the WHO for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA, HPAI is defined as any AI virus that is lethal for 6 or more of 8 sample eight week old chickens (75% mortality) that have been inoculated with the sample virus. HPAI or LPAI is only confirmed 10 days after inoculation and only H5 and H7 subtypes undergo pathogenicity testing because their of their potential to become HPAI: all other strains are automatically considered to be LPAI.

My point is and I have said this before: the USDA has found many instances of H5N1 LPAI across the entire US in both 2006 and 2007, as well as several other avian subtypes. LPAI H5N1 has been known to develop into HPAI given enough time and under the right environmental influences and circumstances. So, “no sign of avian flu” ? A bunch of crap, Orange. For details on 2007 USDA test results, see:

Regarding Michael Greger’s article, I think we need to call a “spade a spade”, when we talk about the reason and cause for the spread of H5N1: sure it’s because of the large confined multimillion bird factory farms – primarily in China, where it is thought to have originated, just like SARS. (China is currently worlds largest poultry producer, and they are also infamous for putting lead in nearly everything they produce and sell to others) H5N1 is also spread via wild birds. The spread and mutation of the virus is also exacerbated exponentially by the large factory poultry farms in China sitting adjacent to the large commercial factory swine farms. The spread and mutation is also enabled by densely populated human beings (in certain third world cultures like Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria) cohabitating with their domestic fowls in their houses, in astoundingly high numbers in many continents of the world.

My point number one is that we have many complicated social, animal (highways and flyways), and cultural dynamics all occurring simultaneously, which are causing the H5N1 and other avian viruses to proliferate – it’s somewhat naïve to point the finger exclusively at the “Westernized industrial model of poultry production”. I haven’t even added the fact that many countries (led by China again) have been poking billions of poultry with ineffective and incorrect vaccines for years now, adding to the dilemma. My point number two is that “back yard and open range” poultry raising, is not a viable final solution at this point – it may have been at one time 20-30 years ago, but not anymore. It will not reverse anything. The horse has long left this barn.

While I applaud Dr. Greger for his in depth articles and his passion in his role at the animal Humane Society of the US, his main argument fall short. I find he is 100% on the money though, when he gives this advice in the last sentence of his article:

"The CDC is officially calling on all Americans to stockpile 90 days of essential supplies to weather out the next pandemic". Very good advice and conclusion.



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