Tuesday, December 11, 2007

December 10 Flu Update

This goes in the grain of salt category, but Pakistan claims to have a small cluster of human-human transmission flu.

Three suspected cases of human-to-human transmission of bird flu virus have been detected in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), sources told The Post on Monday.

Of these three cases, two people died and the Ministry of Health has collected samples to determine the cause of their deaths.

Meanwhile, the Chinese "cluster" is not confirmed human-human transmission, according to the Chinese.

ProMed has this story as well. A report has identified what appears to be a common infection source for the man and his son. Mod CP says this negates the possibility of human-human transmission.

This report caused some commentary on the ProMed list, which is listed here.

A second case in China has been reported.

With two cases in China near Hong Kong, protection measures are being increased.

Meanwhile, China warns about winter and spring outbreaks.

Just a note: I think the outbreaks in Poland are more serious than people know.

Pigeons will not be culled in Saudi Arabia
during pilgrimage.

A cull has left British company with no organic turkeys for Christmas.

However, the bird flu scare has not dented holiday demand in the UK.

In Nigeria, they are fumigating poultry markets to protect against flu in advance of festivals.

Major financial losses in Poland due to culls.

UK government is attacked for blaming outbreak on wild birds.

GE and Novavax are partnering to develop a new, faster way to manufacture vaccine.

Columbia University works on pandemic prep.

Local planning for flu is taking place in Massachusetts.

Fiji's plan is in place.

Pittsfield, ME, paper looks at a new focus on animal diseases.

Revere is disappointed in his colleagues in the scientific community. As they debate the migratory bird issue, they are focused more on property rights than answering answerable questions that are vital to public health.


At 6:15 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I tend to disagree with you Orange about your comment to take Pakistan’s admission of a small human-to-human cluster, like a grain of salt. I find it quite plausible that due to the recent turmoil Musharraf has been having with the Bhutto (People’s Party) and Sharif (Muslim League) over his presidency and free elections, this kind of news could easily have been swept under the table. The Islamabad article had too many tantalizing details to be fabricated, plus I do believe they have the specialized in-house lab capability to diagnose H5N1 adequately. Just my opinion of course – as events speed up around the world, I don’t believe we need to wait until the WHO rubber stamps their assessement.

I do agree 100% with your observation that the bird flu outbreaks in Poland (and in the entire Russia, Western Europe and Baltic/Black/Caspian Sea areas) is significantly worse than everybody realizes. In fact, today Russia announced a fairly sizable bird flu outbreak in poultry in the Rostov region around the Black Sea. Stay tuned – there will be more announcements in the near future for that area also. And from even more countries as they check in: many more infections and outbreaks in poultry. You will have plenty of reporting to do.

I think the real golden nugget that is in your articles today, is embedded in the comments section of Revere’s article, “Birds, bird flu, bird brains…”. It is a comment posted by Herman, and he cites Lo Wing-tok, a specialist in infectious diseases in Hong Kong, who cites authoritatively that “there have been 30 family clusters so far where the infection had been contracted due to a blood relationship”. In other words, he is asserting that there is a definite genetic related susceptibility in acquiring the H5N1 virus and human illness. Admittedly, while little is known about where exactly the preponderance of these clusters have manifested themselves, the speculation would certainly have to be… mainland China itself, certainly a region he is most familiar with, and has data from. Wing-tok’s statements seem to make sense, and add further credibility to the situation with the current 24 year old from Jiangsu province, and his father. The official Chinese communist government story about the Confucian temple meal of under-cooked Beggar’s Chicken, just seems too, well, artificially fabricated.

As the ProMed article points out: “where’s the evidence that any human anywhere has contracted avian influenza by eating chicken?”. There is no evidence for transmission of avian influenza virus by “eating” cooked, under-cooked, or uncooked diseased poultry.

Other pieces of the pandemic puzzle also seems to be falling into place – first is South China’s recent sudden bird flu outbreak drill announcements in Guangdong Province and in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Second, is China’s abrupt warning of a “very high” possibility of outbreaks of bird flu over the winter and spring. China’s agriculture ministry has said that it is “not optimistic” about winter and spring, when the virus is at its most contagious.

I would like to end by saying Revere has the right take on the whole bird flu situation: scientists are being monumentally stupid and wasting resources, in their surveillance of H5N1 in non-endemic areas of the world. With all the forthcoming evidence of human clusters forming, and more H5N1 outbreaks in countries being announced nearly every day, it would seem that scientists would shift gears and start targeting those endemic countries where H5N1 and all their related avian cousin viruses, are allowed free-reign to mutate. But they haven’t snapped to this fact yet.

I’ve said this many times before, but I truly believe the scientists will still be arguing about the effectiveness of masks, taking samples of wild birds, arguing about Material Transfer Agreements (MTA’s), quarantines, and speculating on the genetics of human clusters… clear up to when the bodies start flopping down, all over the globe. Then all the academic theories and research in the world, won’t matter too much to regular people like us. In fact, it won’t matter to them either – we’ll all be in the same boat.



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