Wednesday, January 31, 2007

January 30 Flu Update

WHO says those suspected cases in Nigeria were negative.

Reuters says Nigerian officials were mum on the results.

Health experts in Indonesia are calling for closer monitoring of dogs and cats for bird flu.

ProMed with two news stories. First, Hungarian virus is 99.4% similar to 2006 European virus. No word on if that is good or bad. Second, Japan has a new outbreak in birds.

Interesting LA Times story on how a vaccine could avert a pandemic--in fact, I think it is the only thing that can.

More vaccine news on an adjuvant-based vaccine from BioSante.

A company in Australia is applying to produce a bird flu vaccine.

The Voice of America is training journalists in Africa on how to cover the bird flu.

In Alberta, hospital workers are discussing the ethics of a, should hospital workers be forced to work?

Japanese editorial does a good job of conveying the breadth of a response required for bird flu.

Pandemic training will be held in Shreveport.

Taiwan reports successful tests on a bird flu vaccine for humans.

A new pandemic plan has been developed at Penn State University.

USDA officials discuss their bird flu plans.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

January 29 Flu Update

Sorry for being late, snow threw my schedule off....

ProMed on new case in Indonesia, a six year old child.

Nigeria is testing samples from 14 people, 3 of whom died. There is suspicion of bird flu and a potential cluster here.

(WHO says now there people were H5N1 negative, but may have had influenza).

No surprise here, bird flu outbreak in Southern Russia.

CIDRAP on the Russian outbreak. Note reference to potential new outbreaks in Hungary.

ProMed on Russian and Hungary. Note especially the mod comment on migratory birds--and other factors--that could be behind the spread of the disease.

Physician in Philippines says that people should not let the absence of cases distract them from the danger of bird flu.

Japan reports a third poultry outbreak.

Ukraine says it is taking special steps to prevent the spread of the bird flu.

Reuters fact box on the worldwide spread of bird flu.

GSK has filed its pre-pandemic vaccine in Europe. It is adjuvant-based.

Thailand has "changed" its bird flu strategy, though it is not clear to what.

Story on lab in Lincoln, NE that has developed a way to mass produce flu vaccine. This is, of course, a development that could save millions of lives.

A new fowl vaccine is being developed in Australia.

Company reports another vaccine effort for bird flu.

Thailand is considering building a vaccine factory.

Article in Bhutan says nation not taking bird flu threat lightly.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

January 28 Flu Update

A 14 year old Azeri boy is dead, and he died before testing could be finished on suspected H5N1. His samples have been sent off for testing.

ProMed runs the denials. No bird flu, and the boy was negative, they say.

Thailand reports that 222 suspected cases nationwide are all negative.

Bird flu could be spreading in Japan.

Vietnam is sending more vets into the Mekong Delta.

LA Times on the work to speed up human vaccine production.

The AP weighs in on the US pandemic preparation---is the US ready?

Trailers packed with cots and medical supplies are parked in secret locations in Colorado, ready for doctors to open makeshift hospitals in school gyms if a flu pandemic strikes.

Parts of southeastern Washington state are considering drive-through flu shots during a pandemic -- although a practice run this fall showed they had better hire traffic cops.

China says vaccination and monitoring have kept bird flu down.

They are trying to get farmers more educated on bird flu in Sri Lanka.

In Thailand, they are recommending that during a pandemic business executives should get bird flu shots.

January 27 Flu Update

Official spokesman in Egypt says no human-human transmission in recent cases.

ProMed on recent cases in Nigeria, which may be H-H. Note mod comment on incubation periods.

A recent person in Azerbaijan who was a suspected human flu case is not---AG minister.

Second outbreak in Japan is confirmed.

More claims that cases in Thailand are not bird flu.

Philippines will begin thermal scanning of people in the airport.

A common problem: farmers in Nigeria are not impressed by their compensation for culled birds.

Flu training is being prepared in Kashmir.

Revere on a recent study that says that presenteeism--when people go to work sick--had bigger costs than absenteeism. This would really be true during a pandemic, when people really should stay home.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

January 26 Flu Update

Revere looks at the crystal ball and finds it as cloudy as everyone else does.

Story looks at flu around the world, mostly on Indonesia bringing troops in to fight the bird flu.

ProMed on Indonesia (cats), Hungary and Japan.

ProMed on a suspected outbreak in Azerbaijan.

Culture clash in Indonesia. The people love their birds. I mean, they love their birds. Yet, they are being told they have to be culled. (Revere has compared this to asking people in US to turn their dogs over to be culled).

Does bird flu mutate more quickly in cats?

Ukraine and Russia have banned imports of Hungarian poultry following an outbreak there (now, why are countries hesitant to be transparent).

The US donated 100,000 sets of personal protective equipment to Indonesia.

Japan has a cull of 50,ooo birds scheduled.

China says it had success with bird flu (thanks to the Central Government) and is determined to continue the success.

The US Society of Infectious Diseases says all US healthcare workers should get the flu shot.

Columbiana County, OH, is preparing for a pandemic.

Friday, January 26, 2007

January 25 Flu Update

There is a suspected bird flu case in Azerbaijan

A six-year old girl has died of bird flu in Indonesia.

CIDRAP on the death of the girls, as well as suspected cases in Thailand and Nigeria (reported here yesterday).

ProMed on the death, and suspected cases in Indonesia.

Perhaps the day's biggest news...two pigs in Indonesia are said to have bird flu. Because pigs can host both avian and human viruses, they are considered a potential "mixing bowl" for virus re assortment.

Meanwhile, a Thai man is said to have died of human flu, not bird flu.

Klaus Stohr has left WHO to go to Novartis. In his day, especially pre-Navarro, Stohr was often quoted on this blog.

The Economist covers the flu story in its usual fashion--from top to bottom.

Roche released a statement on yesterday's "we're not worried enough" hearing at the US Senate.

Zanzibar (Tanzania) is not lifting poultry restrictions, despite heavy pressure.

A professor at the University of Arkansas is developing a sensor which could be used to diagnose bird flu in the field.

Significant surveillance is underway in Australia.

Company says it has identified "replikins" which are genome strands related to virus replication.

The Airport in Manila is still considering how to screen for bird flu.

Business Week on the re-emergence of the bird flu in the European Union.

Thailand and Japan are working together on a vaccine for poultry.

Effect Measure looks a recent stories on difficulty managing TB--and how they relate to bird flu and the need for better public health infrastructure.

Really interesting study looking at women who survived the 1918 flu who were pregnant when they caught the flu.

Almond found that the children of infected mothers were 15 percent less likely to graduate from high school, and sons of infected mothers earned approximately $2,500 less per year than those who did not have fetal influenza exposure. Additionally, those who were in utero at the height of the epidemic had 20 percent higher disability rates at the age of 61.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

January 24 Flu Update

Bird flu case (avian, not human) in Hungary confirmed--neighbor cuts off exports.

CIDRAP on Hungary.

Promed on Hungary and what it means for the European winter.

ProMed on reports from Indonesia about additional suspected human cases.

ProMed rounds up other flu news from around the world. Note article that says the strain in Japan is the Chinese strain, not the Indonesian strain.

This local media report says a Mother and daughter are suspected of dying of bird flu after eating sick chickens. However, their deaths seem a little far apart for that to be the case. One to watch.

Vietnam is running short of bird vaccine--people can debate if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It was caused by the illegal breeding of ducks.

Hundreds of dead birds were found in Sri Lanka, but local officials are saying it was salmonella.

As seen first in our comments section last night, an Indonesian scientist is saying there is "convincing" evidence flies can spread the bird flu.

Malaysia has issued a bird flu alert due to the presence of the disease in its neighbors. There are no reported cases that I am aware of.

Excellent AP story hitting one on of my favorite angles about the flu: how closely it follows and exposes our cultural practices. This one is about the practice of taking ducks by boat to feed in recently harvested rice fields.

The UN says TET/Lunar New Year requires extra vigilance.

Effect Measure decries mixed messages from International officials on what is really going on with bird flu. Is it a seasonal blip or a real change?

ProMed on migrating birds--note interesting comment on the importance of Greenland.

US officials told the US Senate that people aren't worried enough about the bird flu.

Surveillance shows no H5N1 in wild birds in Minnesota.

Hawaii gets permission to import H5N1.

Lincoln County (ME) is conducting bird flu prep.

Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have set up a bird flu hotline.

Here's a hand lotion that is said to be able to kill H5N1.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

January 22-23 Flu Update

Sorry for the missed day. Life intervened.

ProMed reports a woman dead in Egypt (she had sick birds in her home) and two people in Indonesia in the hospital with suspicion of bird flu.

Margaret Chan had important words. Deaths from flu in 2006 were more than 04 and 05 combined. So much for a story that was dying out. Also, more outbreaks in S. Korea, and Nigeria. (Via CIDRAP)

Effect Measure blogs this article as well--at least the leaders are saying the right things.

Look to the bottom of this CIDRAP report. Has bird flu reached Hungary (and Europe). Smae report--FAO says outbreaks among birds were actually down from last year....if they were all reported. Also noting that banning backyard flocks is considered ill-advised and more sicks birds in Thailand.

Southern Japan had a new outbreak among birds.

Definitive tests from Japan are expected later in the week.

Vietnemese Delta Province is bird flu free for three weeks.

An infectious bird flu expert from the University of Rochester is set to testify before Congress.

Developing countries are demanding their fair share of bird flu drugs.

CDC has released a pandemic communication guide. Note:

She outlined several mistakes to avoid, such as:

  • Mixed or late messages. When it's critical to send a message quickly, "Don't worry about grammar or punctuation," she said.
  • Paternalism. "It's not reasonable to tell people to not be afraid. Address that they are afraid, then give them information that may help alleviate that fear," Reynolds said.
  • Ignoring rumors or myths. The longer rumors are allowed to circulate, the more likely they are to take hold.
  • Power struggles between government agencies, which erode pubic confidence in crisis response.

Scientists have modeled the spread of flu in a pandemic using modern informatics with a focus on the role of the airliner. The result has been noted before:

The researchers show that strict travel restrictions would do little, if anything, to prevent the flu from spreading throughout the globe. Encouragingly, the model predicts that the use of antiviral drugs would significantly thwart a global flu outbreak within certain ranges of infectiousness if every country in the world had a drug stockpile sufficient to treat 5-10 percent of their populations.

A second national summit is being held in Orlando for business preparedness. It is sponsored by CIDRAP.

An international pharmacist's organization has issued a report calling for an emphasis on continuity planning.

Norvavax touts further success of its flu virus.

Effect Measure on a little-seen study that showed that cats can get H5N1 and have no symptoms...and implications thereof.

State in the Philippines is fighting bird flu.

As Lunar New Year approaches, so do chicken sales.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

January 21 Flu Update

A suspected case in Thailand (duck herder) is negative.

This story seems to indicate that 111 people in the Mekong Valley were suspected of having bird flu and all of them had pneumonia. Report is sketchy....

UN says that even if the virus did mutate concerning Tamiflu, human transmissibility is not effected.

Intriguing post at ProMed. Has a candidate pandemic strain emerged?

The recent ProMED-mail posting entitled "Avian influenza, human (08): South Korea 20070111.0119", which commented on the lack of virulence of the H5N1 influenza strains (so-called V genotype) that have infected up to 9 humans in South Korea, is intriguing.

Even internal borders in Thailand are effected by bird flu measures.

A one-day bird flu "training camp" is slated for Indian Kashmir.'

In the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture is urging breeders to employ sanitation measures.

Chinese poultry slaughterhouses are switching to sales.

People in Odessa, TX, are reminded that if people clean out the grocery stores during a snowstorm, what would happen during a pandemic.

January 20 Flu Update

Local story from the paper in Indonesia about the woman who died yesterday.

Here's the local story on the dead woman from Egypt.

ProMed on Indonesia and Egypt.

Promed with other reports from Asia.

More culling is underway in South Korea.

Researchers in Hawaii think they can develop a quicker test for bird flu. Problem is, they need to import the deadly virus to the island....

Hong Kong is said to be on high alert after its brush with H5N1.

Only one province in Thailand is said to have bird flu outbreaks.

Writer in the Philippines jumps the gun a little....

Story from India on "Asia Scrambling"

A columnist in Malta fights back against a flu-denier.

Esteemed Flu Observer Laurie Garrett is on ProMed asking for information on how El Nino will effect bird migration.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

January 19 Flu Update--Updated for breaking news

A death in Indonesia and a death in Egypt are reported.

26 suspected human cases are being watched in Northern Thailand. This clearly bears watching. These generally don't pan out, but there is some noise in the system indicating we might be getting more case clusters than normal. This may not be it, but this is what it will look like when it starts.

5 new human cases have been reported in Egypt.

There's a bird outbreak in South Korea.

There's also an eighth outbreak in the Mekong Delta.

Indonesia is trying to clear the capital of birds, but people are resisting turning over their birds.

Indonesia reporting continues to blame spread of disease on ignorance and economics.

2 more dead birds in Hong Kong are H5--N1 still TBD.

CIDRAP reports on Asia as a whole.

ProMed with WHO report on Tamiflu resistance in Eygpt. Note WHO says no indication that Tamiflu resistance is "widespread."

With H5N1 in Japan, that country realizes it has to come to grips with what other countries have looked at--tough questions like who gets scare vaccine?

Ireland released a book on pandemic preparations, calling the pandemic "inevitable."

UN Rx for H5N1: Soap+water.

Nebraska has announced a new bird flu surveillance program.

Friday, January 19, 2007

January 18 Flu Update

Yesterday, you saw that we ran a story on the flu in Egypt being Tamiflu resistant. Actually, they say it is "moderately" resistant, a phrase that I concede was elusive to me at the beginning. Here, CIDRAP explains.

More on this story from WaPo. WHO is not ruling out human-human transmission here in what is a small cluster.

"Based on the information we have, we can't yet rule out human-to-human transmission," said Dr. Fred Hayden, a WHO bird flu and antivirals expert. "We need to better understand the dynamics of this outbreak."

Here's the official WHO update from Egypt.

Effect Measure on the story of what it means to be Tamiflu resistant.

A new case is reported to be hospitalized in Indonesia.

This is an interesting and important story. Vietnam officials concede that their vaccination program is less than 70% effective...and therefore, not the panacea they and others have claimed. It is interesting and important because there is harm to vaccinating birds widely, and if it's not going to work anyway......

Mr. Nam said in theory, the protection rate is 70%, but it is lower in reality. There are two possible causes: Firstly, the vaccine’s quality is low; secondly, the vaccination process is problematic.

In Thailand, a committee has recommended vaccinating birds only in areas where outbreaks have occurred.

Wisely, Europe is reminded that with winter bird flu outbreaks, it would not be a surprise at all to see bird flu hit Europe soon.

Helen Branswell on the study released yesterday where monkeys were given the 1918 flu virus---this is the study that showed more evidence for the cytokine storm.

Farmer in Vietnam have been ordered to stop their ducks from roaming in the Mekong Delta. (Note: I am glad this is not my assignment)

The movement of duck stocks in the Mekong delta fields is strictly prohibited until the epidemic comes to an end,' Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat said in a directive seen on Thursday. 'All ducks in infected communes should be kept inside.'

Time Magazine looks at the status of the flu around the world.

China plans to spent $1BN on bird 2015.

From Nigeria---bird flu has killed 161 people around the world.

A municipality in the Philippines has banned the sale of poultry, and their regional government has taken notice.

ProMed has a WHO OIE report from Asia.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

January 17 Flu Update

More evidence for the idea that the 1918 flu was deadly because it provoked the immune system into attacking the body in hyperdrive. This comes from Nature Magazine.

If you want to understand what this is about, this Effect Measure post is for you. It is all good, so I don't want to excerpt it. It is a must read--especially the end on how a small number of amino acids may determine transmissibility.

To hear discussion of the Nature report, here is a link to their podcast, which features interviews with the researchers from this study.

Here's a local (Wisconsin) story on one of the researchers. He wonders if you couldn't treat the immune response and the flu symptoms at the same time.

CIDRAP on the study on 1918 virus--note end of article reviews a study on using statins in fighting infectious disease, including pneumonia.

Flu in Egypt is resistant to Tamiflu.

The flu in Japan has been determined to be highly virulent.

Bird flu in Thailand is confirmed in four birds, and it was high path.

Meanwhile, four suspected cases in Vietnam have been determined to be pneumonia.

The US has awarded contracts to three companies who are developing adjuvant-enhanced vaccines.

Australia is doing surveillance. Don't expect to find anything.

Hmm. In Iceland, they have determined that cod enzyme kills H5N1.

Helen Branswell on the recreation of the 1918 virus in a Winnipeg lab.

In the Philippines, a bird flu education program has begun.

Here's a company with a contract for an influenza patch.

An historic lecture on pandemic flu will be held in Beaumont, TX.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

January 16 Flu Update

More on flaring bird flu in Asia, including the Indonesians readying more hospital rooms for flu victims.

Effect Measure says that he's still not convinced it just a seasonal trend.

Promed with a WHO statement on Indonesia, and on the "overwhelmed" hospital.

Urgent action being implemented in the Mekong Delta.

More on emergency action in Vietnam.

Chicken exporters in Thailand--chicken exporters, I say--are confident bird flu can be defeated.

CIDRAP on Indonesia--where the father in the cluster was negative--and Egypt with another suspected human case.

CIDRAP looks at Asia.

Here's another cultural bird flu tie in. Hong Kong is concerned that prayer birds released at Buddhist ceremonies in China are flying to Hong Kong with bird flu.

Durham, Canada, with the phrase of the day..."it's not about being alarmist. It's about being ready."

The Chicago financial industry tested out its "resilience" during a pandemic.

The World Bank is spending $8M on bird flu in Afghanistan.

Study on anti-virals says they are effective in helping stop influenza--oseltamivir and zanamivir.

21,000 birds were tested in Alaska, and none are H5N1.

Monday, January 15, 2007

January 15 Flu Update

Back in the saddle. Winter seems to be bringing its normal outbreaks....

Very interesting post which a number of people have forwarded to me. The lead speaks for a hospital in Indonesia "overwhelmed" with bird flu cases.

An Indonesian hospital was overwhelmed with patients suffering bird flu symptoms as the disease spread further in Vietnam and Thailand reported its first case in poultry in six months.

ProMed with news...human case in Egypt. In Indonesia, the father in the potential cluster is reported to be H5N1 negative.

Here's the official WHO report from Indonesia.

The Ministry of Health of Indonesia has confirmed the death of a 22-year-old woman from Tangerang City, Banten Province. The woman, whose infection was announced on 12 January, died later that day.

The Ministry of Health has also confirmed two additional cases of human infection of H5N1 avian influenza.

A 22-year-old woman from South Jakarta developed symptoms on 6 January 2007 and died on 12 January 2007. Investigations into the source of her exposure found reports of bird deaths near her home in the days prior to symptom onset.

The 18-year-old son of the 37-year-old woman from Tangerang City, Banten Province has now also been confirmed as infected with H5N1 avian influenza. He remains in hospital in a critical condition. Investigations into the source of his infection indicate similar environmental exposure as his mother (editor's note: WHO at it again).

There's an outbreak of bird flu among ducks in Thailand, too.

More on Thailand.

ProMed on Thailand and Indonesia.

China says it will be effective and transparent in flu fight---these promises made to neighboring countries.

There are reports that bird flu is spreading in Northern Nigeria, too.

Effect Measure asks about this recent flu outbreak. Revere cites two possibilities. Either January is just a bad month (and that's possible), or we've seen a shift in the virus.

Right now this looks like "flu season." But this virus has proved everyone wrong more often than not.

The Mekong Delta remains on bird flu alert.

Japan, too? Birds culled in Japan after H5N1 found.

South Korea notes with nervousness the outbreaks around Asia.

Newspaper says West Java in Indonesia was slow to react to bird flu danger, which certainly has been echoed over the past couple years.

Should Indonesia ban backyard flocks?

Wow, here's an interesting pandemic plan in Britain. Everyone is supposed to name a flu buddy who will bring them Tamiflu, as opposed to having them report to an ER.

Under a national pandemic plan due to be unveiled this week, patients who fall ill with the highly virulent form will be asked to name a friend or relative to bring them emergency Tamiflu tablets, rather than see a doctor or nurse.

A consultant in Britain says that the bird flu could reduce the DJIA 10%.

Officials in Jamaica are warned to be ready for bird flu.

Revere v. Furmento continues....Effect Measure responds, if reluctantly, to a dumb-ass challenged from Furmento.

US experts issue reminder--bird flu will challenge US healthcare system.
He disagreed with the suggestion that the bird flu threat has been overstated by the media.

"The number of cases in 2006 was more than it was in 2005, which is more than it was in 2004 ... so it continues to go up in people," he said in an interview.

"And it continues to be just as lethal as it was in the beginning," Bartlett said at a conference aimed at helping U.S. hospital administrators prepare for a pandemic.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


We're going out of town for the holiday weekend. Next post will be a January 15th update, probably posted sometime that evening.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

January 10 Flu Update

The 14 year old boy in Indonesia has died of bird flu.

CIDRAP with bird flu news from Asia.

WHO on China.

ProMed with reports from Asia.

ProMed also reports from China. Note mod comment on unclear infection source...

Although the source of the avian influenza virus infecting the farmer in Anhui province remains obscure, it is clear from the complete recovery of the patient and the lack of secondary cases that this particular virus has not evolved any potential for person-to-person transmission.
The International Herald Tribune says reports that bird flu is raging back for winter, and it could be worse than last winter.

Vietnam has its first mobile bird flu lab. It says samples can be tested in a week or two.

Indonesia says 16 of its 30 regions are flu free.

In Vietnam, the Central Region is said to be at risk for flu.

The World Bank has given grants for $28M to various nations.

NIH is touting a DNA vaccine for bird flu.

Revere looks at a recent report from a commission in Canada that looks at the SARS situation--and like many people Revere extrapolates to bird flu.

Illinois has a guide for school pandemic planning.

Sweet Briar College (no kidding) is ready for the bird flu.

In Thailand, they are wondering if a bird flu disinfectant isn't more dangerous than the bird flu.

The USAID has a new spokesperson in the fight against pandemic flu in Asia--"Superchicken."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

January 9 Flu Update

Update on Update: China is reporting that a farmer caught H5N1 but has recovered and been released from the hospital. Interesting that there was no word until well after it had happened. This will start people to wondering. Of course, it would have been surprising if there hadn't been a case...implausibly, the Chinese report no poultry outbreaks in the area.

The Indonesian cases (2) that we mentioned yesterday are both confirmed H5N1.

ProMed on Indonesia.

World Bank article on newly pledged funds and its usage.

Another province in the Mekong Delta has been hit by bird flu.

Revere blogs the Computer World article, along with his personal experience doing bird flu planning at his own university. Excellent as always--note below.

There are also some lessons for the rest of us. One I see close up in our own efforts. The minute you start to dig beneath the surface and begin to imagine the interlocking chain of consequences of an interrupted supply chain or a 40% absenteeism the problem starts to look hopeless and insurmountable. With the uncertainty about when and if a pandemic will occur, the natural way to handle this is to procrastinate. It's overwhelming. But there's really quite a lot that can be done if you don't let the enormity of the overall problem make you choke. Even if you only manage 60% to 80% of the challenge of a pandemic, that's a life saving fraction and likely a business saving one, too.

Readers in South Central Texas get some suspect info on bird flu.

FAO has selected a bird flu detection program.

This is odd----the London Telegraph says that poultry workers are being given flu shots this winter--to forestall the spread of the bird flu.

The World Bank is supporting bird flu work in Bangladesh.

UNICEF is at work in Vietnam.

The Philippines are holding a media training session to improve coverage of the bird flu issue. (Could we do that in the US?)

Readers in Sault Saint Marie (Ontario) are urged to look at the province's pandemic preparedness guide.

Monday, January 08, 2007

January 8 Flu Update

So much for a flu-free 2007--Indonesia has its first case of the year. A 14 year old boy on a ventilator. There were apparently dead ducks near his home, though the exact exposure route has not been declared.

CIDRAP reports that there are actually two cases in Indonesia.

ProMed on the second case in Indonesia--cause is "unknown."

CIDRAP with news from multiple sources....Hong Kong, Vietnam.

WHO/FAO are preparing to investigate bird flu in Vietnam.

China says it has a human flu vaccine it developed in conjunction with the US CDC.

A US biodefense advisor to President Bush says 1918 fatality estimates are optimistic.

"I think that number is a very optimistic number if we are talking about a 1918-wide pandemic today," Rajeev Venkayya, Special Assistant for Biodefense to President Bush, said.

Provinces in Vietnam are gearing up to fight the flu.

The World Bank is putting $10M into the flu fight in Vietnam.

Vietnam says its was poor surveillance that allowed a recent spate of outbreaks.

Avian vaccine is still banned in Thailand.

A British veterinary officer says that a cold snap would increase the risk of bird flu.

Effect Measure points out that cold weather is already having its effect in Asia.

The McHenry County Board of Health has a weekly column starting, and this one (the first) is about preparing for a pandemic.

Hong Kong has tightened import controls following finding H5N1. ProMed reports.

Australian businesses are told to prepare for business continuity for 2-3 months, with 50% absences.

Michigan Public Health officials have a pandemic resource guide.

Recombinomics with a local translation on a cluster in Indonesia. For what it is worth...sometimes these pan out, sometimes they do not.

Computerworld author blogs on the difficulty of writing a cover story on the bird flu...striking a balance between communicating the risks and appearing hysterical.

Update Delayed

The Update from today will be delayed until tonight.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

January 6 Flu Update

The bird in Hong Kong is now confirmed H5N1.

Somebody was caught trying to smuggle avian vaccine into Thailand.

In a West Virginia county, the school superintendents were informed by the health department that they might have to close up in a pandemic.

The Red Cross in Tennessee is doing some public education on bird flu as well.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

January 5 Flu Update

NIH continues to work on vaccine for bird flu, in this case a DNA vaccine that would allow rapid flexibility to adapt to new strains, though they are beginning with the Indonesia strain. In my opinion, this is the development that makes the whole story moot--and one we should be able to develop.

But scientists must first find out if the DNA vaccine works in humans. Two-thirds of the 45 patients in NIH's study will be given an active form of the vaccine to test it for safety and to see if it reliably prompts an immune response.

Finding out whether it can actually prevent infection with real-world H5N1 virus would be the next step.

"There are a lot of 'ifs' here," Gronvall says.

DNA vaccines against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have already shown some ability to prompt immune responses in the short term.

"We really don't know if DNA vaccines will work for flu," Nabel says.

Indonesian officials say there are two clusters of human bird flu in Indonesia, involving a total of 7 people. (I haven't seen this anywhere else yet, so that's for what it is worth).

The Associated Press quoted Nyoman Kandun, a Health Ministry official, as saying, "there are two clusters, one with two sisters, the other with three family members, and another two of their neighbours." The three children range in age from 18 months to six-years-old.

Indonesia says it is enlisting local villages as allies in the fight against bird flu.

Vietnam continues to gain praise for fighting the bird flu.

Local official Vietnam report on bird flu prevalence since 2004.

ProMed on the continued spread of flu among birds in Vietnam.

Hong Kong is on bird flu alert after having a bird test positive for H5.

ProMed on protective measures in Hong Kong.

At least sounds important--researchers have important data on how the immune system recognizes bird flu.

English zoos are vaccinating birds against avian flu.

BioCryst has $102M grant to develop new anti-viral.

CIDRAP has this story, too.

Effect Measure writes on research on the prevalence of different strains of seasonal flu, what it means for a new kind of flu (H5N1), and what we can learn when we mobilize our resources to win a big battle.

Norfolk, UK, is preparing for a bird flu pandemic by looking at the cold hard facts.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has a pandemic prep kit for businesses to use.

The Missouri Department of Human Services has a 12-page brochure on bird flu for residents of that state.

Friday, January 05, 2007

January 4 Flu Update

Bird flu continues to "spread its wings" in Vietnam.

In her inaugural address, Margaret Chan, the new Director-General of WHO says the world must remain vigilant against bird flu.

Helen Branswell (thanks, Crofsblog) has the story of Dr. Chan's first day

"We learned from past experience it goes into cycles. There would be periods of high H5N1 activity or low activity," Chan said from Geneva during a telephone news conference.

"These kinds of what I call peaks and troughs are very characteristic for influenza. ... So my advice to health authorities would be: We are moving into the peak season of influenza activity again. This is the time we really need to redouble our efforts in terms of heightened sense of vigilance."

CDC has approved a "flu chip" that tests quickly for avian flu.

A wild bird has tested positive for H5 in Hong Kong---no word on N1.

Recombinomics has sources saying it is H5N1, and details the state of flu outbreaks for 2007.

This story has emerged before. Imagine a pandemic. People take Tamiflu by the million, and then, eventually, it ends up in the wastewater treatment system, where active ingredients don't biodegrade.

Another societal effect of the bird supplies could be severely restricted.

Recently, we ran a story about how water and wastewater treatment would react in a pandemic, with the report saying that measures currently in place could be effective. Revere blogs this article, saying more work like this is useful, if not the road to "academic stardom."

Cameroon reports that its poultry sales have bounced back from bird flu scares.

Here, a fellow flu blogger notes our second anniversary.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

January 3 Flu Update

A third person has died in Egypt of bird flu. They are from the same region, though it does not appear to be a cluster.

Japan will spend $10M on prototype bird flu vaccines.

Confirmation that the first family in Vietnam was H5N1 negative.

ProMed opinion piece states what I believe is a reasonable position in the migratory bird vs. smuggling debate.

As the European cases show, there is no doubt that wild birds are involved to some degree in the virus's spread, but this role has been massively overstated by some (especially the media). The key to halting the virus's further spread undoubtedly lies with better biosecurity measures within the global poultry industry.

ProMed on the news that poultry was still being illegally imported into Vietnam from China.

US DNA vaccine enters human trial.

Mississippi poultry is blaming a drop in exports on unrealized fears of bird flu.

Michael Fumento is back in the American Spectator with his latest diatribe against those who would prefer to prepare for a pandemic.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

January 2 Flu Update

ProMed with this: a report that there are four human cases in Vietnam. Note mod is hard to tell if these are the same four people from last week, or new cases, however, it is an official report of H5N1.

ProMed: more avian outbreaks in Vietnam.

More Vietnam. Further spread is expected.

Local report says flu is "raging" in Mekong Delta.

Cornell University announces the results of a study that says bird flu is unlikely to spread in water treatment or wastewater systems.

Missouri radio story reminds people there that bird flu is quiet, not gone.

The Thai Health Department has warned people that bird flu is still a problem.

ProMed holds up two countries fighting bird smuggling as examples of how to work against the spread of H5N1.

Southwestern Nova Scotia has revised its bird flu plans, and continues to monitor the situation.

Press Release describes the "Replikin Count" as a way of, I guess, quantifying the H5N1 virus.

The World Bank has allocated $28M to the bird flu fight.

January 1 Flu Update

Man, there is just no news on New Year's. Holy mackeral.

Revere, of course, is always on the job. Nice post which explains the philosophy of the blog, mentions this blog (thank you), and responds to an email accusing media of "hysteria" over four cases in Vietnam which are pneumonia, at least according to initial reports.

Revere also picks up on Crawford Killian's suggestion that reports keep circulating about the cases in Vietnam because newsrooms are short-staffed.

An alert reader sent me this--could easily be nothing, but some unusual respiratory disease has broken out in a Chinese school. Not to be grim, but there are no fatalities yet, which leads me to think it is not the flu.

An Institute in California has published an analysis of all available data on the flu.

Monday, January 01, 2007

December 31 Flu Update--Happy New Year!

ProMed on the news that the family in Vietnam has pneumonia, and not bird flu.

Effect Measure on the bird flu "wherever you are" noting caution on the initial negative results from Vietnam.

Nigeria sent back four containers of poultry product due to fears of bird flu. At least two had originated in Egypt.

Nigerians are also informed on how to tell when they shouldn't eat chickens.

Jordan is also vigilant against bird flu, which has broken out in its neighbor, Egypt.

N. Korea has built a bird flu ward with support from WHO.

ProMed on the migratory bird vs. smuggling debate...not mod comment on the dangers of smuggling.