Saturday, March 31, 2007

March 29 Flu Update

This is, quite possibly, the most serious flu news in some time. A physician in Indonesia who treated a boy who had bird flu is now sick, though said to be getting better. Others have noted that healthcare workers are among the first people who will be infected if the virus goes H2H.

Avian outbreaks continue to spread in Bangladesh.

This story from Vietnam says that most experts believe bird flu will become a pandemic in "months."

The Student paper at Syracuse says you should consider the threat of a pandemic, but do no panic.

Perhaps trying to recapture the PR high ground, Indonesia now supports the establishment of an international influenza information exchange.

Last week the NY Times ran a comprehensive flu article which summed up the state of play today. Here, the author is interviewed on a podcast.

A UNICEF campaign in Nigeria is aiming to protect women and children.

The University of Rochester is getting funds to research bird flu.

Kuwait notes that even with no human cases, the virus is still dangerous.

In Toledo, OH, a flu summit is held. They seem to be facing the problem pretty head on. Note the story of the parade in 1918 that was held--and what happened to the flu after that.

The bird flu task force is now finding its way to remote areas of the Philippines.

Monticello, IN, held some pandemic sessions this week.

Revere writes that if we are going to use Tamiflu as we want to--widely, during a pandemic--than you have to expect the unusual adverse event.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

March 29 Flu Update

CIDRAP on two more suspected cases in Indonesia, and confirmation of the death in China. No known contact with sick chickens is reported, though it sounds like they are working on inventing one. (Did I say that?)

WHO's update from China.

ProMed on Indonesia and China.

Vietnam is concerned about the return of the bird flu, and is looking to vaccinate 90% of its poultry.

Kuwait has culled 1.1 million birds.

Officials in Egypt seem to be happy with the flu response: they are reporting progress on survival rates.

The border between India and Bangladesh is on high alert.

The Health Minister from Brunei attended bird flu meetings in Jakarta.

In Paris, World Travel and Tourism officials met to hear from David Nabarro on bird flu. (Nabarro has uncharacteristically failed to make headlines with this visit).

Birdlife International says it is trade, not migration.

CIDRAP on the study of high-dose Tamiflu.

Baxter says its vaccine studies are "promising."

They are making plans to fight bird flu in Belize.

March 28 Flu Update

A teenage boy died of bird flu in China. He was in the East, and while China says no one near him has the disease, there have been no bird outbreaks there.

ProMed on yesterday's Indonesian cases and two new cases in Egypt.

Bangladesh is putting the military on the bird flu case...

while the country seeks international help for better testing.

Birds continue to be sick in Bangladesh.

In Afghanistan, bird flu outbreaks are becoming more common, and have hit the capital.

CIDRAP reports on the Chinese case, and confirmation of previously announced cases in Egypt.

ProMed on a surge in cases in Myanmar and the outbreaks in Afghanistan.

Doctors are testing the idea of doubling Tamiflu doses to try and prevent deaths. That, of course, is an important thing to find out, though it would effectively halve the stockpiles. I wonder if the effect preventive dose is different from the therapeutic dose?

St. Joseph's, a University in Philly, has a flu plan.

Hmm. The Kuwait flu team says it is being completely transparent. And who said they weren't?

CIDRAP reports on two planes with sick passengers coming from Asia. In both cases, crews became alarmed. This will become increasingly common if the pandemic ramps up.

Something called South West Health in Nova Scotia just doesn't sound right, but they're working on the bird flu.

Very interesting. Researchers in British Columbia are looking for people alive during the 1918 pandemic---not for clinical research, but to gather their experiences.

Revere wraps up the Indonesian Imbroglio with a reminder that its all talk until we have vaccine production capacity.

Here's a good one. ProMed and the Iowa Markets are inviting applications to be in the flu market study. I'm tempted to apply. Do you think bloggers are welcome?

Cambodia is going to participate in those exercises in Asia.

Cambodia has been chosen as the country facing a mock outbreak and it will work closely with ASEAN and WHO to test risk assessment capabilities, communication procedures and decision making among all the partners, it said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

March 27 Flu Update

The WHO/Indonesia standoff appears to be over. Indonesia will send samples to WHO, who (sorry) will in turn not send them to companies who have not pledged to distribute them to the poor world.

CIDRAP also reports on the accord.

Helen Branswell reports on the accord.

Two children in Egypt have bird flu. They are from different regions.

CIDRAP also reports on Egypt, and this from Indonesia: there are three suspected cases there, two of which are already fatal.

Update: These cases are all fatal now.

Monday and Tuesday, WHO and Asian nations will simulate the monitoring of a bird flu outbreak.

Revere weighs in on dwindling sympathy for Indonesia's position (before the accord was announced).

Two stories on the poultry market...from Bangladesh and Pakistan.

A chip may be able to diagnose a flu strain in 90 minutes.

In New Mexico, the state has produced a 35 page book that will help schools plan for an influenza pandemic.

In Rochester, volunteers showed up for a pandemic flu exercise.

March 26 Flu Update

The NY Times weighs in with the question many people are asking...what is the bird flu doing? Is more going on than we see or know? Here is the key conclusion, certain to be controversial:

Today’s H5N1 flu is probably changing more slowly, because health officials have been vigilant about attacking clusters of cases, which presumably wipes out the most dangerous strains. Whenever several human cases appear, even in remote villages in Indonesia or Egypt, local officials and World Health Organization teams move in to kill all the local poultry and dose all the humans with antiviral drugs — the so-called Tamiflu blanket strategy.

Each stifled outbreak robs the virus of the chance to carom wildly through dozens of human hosts as it does in a flock of chickens or ducks. That fends off what virologists most fear: gene-swapping in people infected with both human and avian flu.

ProMed on Egypt and Hong Kong.

Given problems with its neighbors, India continues to be concerned about poultry imports.

Despite bird outbreaks, Bangladesh says no human cases.

This is interesting. In Canada, representatives of the food industry are thinking through how to handle food shortages during a pandemic.

"In a modern-day, just-in-time food-supply chain, also drawing inputs and ingredients from across the world, such [a] pandemic would not only have severe public-health implications but also pose significant economic impacts and challenges across the entire agri-food continuum," says a federal discussion guide written last year.

Anchorage has been working for a year on its bird flu plan, and it is continuing to work.

Some passengers grew ill on a flight from Hong Kong to Newark. Next thing you know "The Federal Centers for Disease Control sent members of its Global Migration and Quarantine Office from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Newark to check out the passengers, reports the Newark Star Ledger."

The great vaccine debate continues. Helen Branswell here. You will recall that Revere noted that it doesn't make sense to argue so much about so little--since production capacity for vaccines is so low. According to Branswell, WHO is trying to carry that message in a meeting with nations on the vaccine.

The three-day meeting, hosted by Indonesia, will see the WHO advance some modest proposals for improving access to vaccine, including the notion manufacturers might be persuaded to create a small virtual stockpile by holding back a portion of their output for developing countries. The WHO is also trying to use some donated funding to encourage partnerships between developing countries and vaccine makers which could see production or packaging plants located outside the developed world.

The WHO will also gently try to explain the hard realities of the situation, presenting data on global production limitations.

UNICEF says children are most vulnerable to the flu.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is holding a pandemic planning seminar for colleges.

Monday, March 26, 2007

March 25 Flu Update

A three year old who is said to have had "direct contact" with infected poultry has bird flu in Egypt.

Bird flu spread to three new farms in Bangladesh on Sunday

Helen Branswell on the flu dispute with Indonesia.

The Bahrain cabinet was informed that it has enough vaccine to ward off an "unlikely" outbreak of bird flu. No word if they have enough for a likely outbreak *rimshot*

Saudi Arabia is adjusting its pigeon racing schedule due to the outbreak in the eastern part of the US.

Pretty good FAQ distributed for a general audience in Bangladesh.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

March 24 Flu Update

ProMed with three interesting stories. First, the EU says there is no need to vaccincate fowl in Europe. Second, there are now cases in Bangladesh, reported earlier. And third, and most interesting, there are two strains of bird flu circulating in Thailand. Experts are worrying what might happen if they combine.

Ottawa County, OH, is preparing for pandemic flu. Note the involvement of the nuclear power plant, among others.

Odd but touching story about female farm workers in Bangladesh and their reaction to a massive culling in response to bird flu.

The United Arab Emirates says these birds won't give you bird flu.

Kuwait denies that there are new bird flu cases.

Friday, March 23, 2007

March 23 Flu Update

The UN, at least, says there is progress in the vaccine talks with Indonesia.

Saudi Arabia has its first avian outbreak with a single reported case in the eastern part of the kingdom.

Bangladesh also had its first outbreak. (CIDRAP reports--also includes news from Saudi Arabia and Myanmar).

Today's reports say Thailand is going to continue to share samples, contrary to some earlier reports (CIDRAP).

With avian outbreaks in the Pakistani capital, local law enforcement has been trained in handling and disposing of birds.

It is not lost on India that bird flu is all around them.

The Trust for America's Health estimates bird flu losses by state--and forecasts that the bird flu could cause a possible recession. The upshot is that the study says tourism states would be hit hardest--not a bad assumption. I've done something a little different here--I've linked to a Google search of this topic, because there are stories for many states.

The Philippines continue to insist that "strict" measures can control the bird flu.

McCook County, NE, wonders if we can ever be ready enough for bird flu.

Ontario has a public health authority doing bird flu planning.

Canada is investing $2 million in influenza drugs.

A pandemic flu seminar is slated for May in Joplin, MO.

Scientists are using grid computing to work on pandemic problems.

March 22 Non-Update

No update today. Events have conspired against me. I hope to have an update up tonight.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March 21 Flu Update

Three new avian cases of flu were detected in Kuwait.

There's a fresh bird flu outbreak in Burma/Myanmar

ProMed on recent outbreaks.

This case clearly concerns WHO--they are calling for stronger controls in this country.

An alert reader sent this along....there is now free software that will help a hospital predict mass casualties in its neighborhood.

A Buffalo company is being paid millions to produce the flu virus (I thought it happened naturally! Just kidding).

The Japanese say Tamiflu is inappropriate for teenagers.

Vietnam will start producing bird flu vaccines this year (for birds).

Thailand is standing with Indonesia on its vaccine stand off with WHO.

CIDRAP says WHO is meeting with Asian nations on the vaccine question.

Revere notes that all this argument is about a vaccine that won't even begin to have sufficient supplies for the world.

Vietnam reminds of the need for diligence, despite "temporary" absence of bird flu.

An isolation ward has been established at a hospital in Bahrain--it has 16 beds.

The H9N2 case in Hong Kong is putting increasing pressure on the country to ban live poultry markets.

The US has provided bird flu equipment to Vietnam.

Philippines vows to continue to fight bird flu.

It's all for the kids--Philippines announce that bird flu protections protect children first.

ProMed says Laos outbreak was related to cock fighting.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

March 21 Flu Update

WHO describes itself as "scurrying" to get a bird flu vaccine agreement. Is there a reason for the urgency?

The strain of bird flu circulating in Thailand is amantadine resistant. This is important because WHO has recommended a combo amantadine-Tamiflu treatment regimen in some cases.

The ubiquitous "Reuters Box" on the global spread of flu.

Promed on the recent human cases in Egypt and Indonesia (reported in yesterday's update).

The UK Department of Health has released a bird flu strategic framework for bird flu.

More on Florida refusing bird flu help. (I wonder if this will generate five comments like the story on Sunday did).

Egypt has allocated funds for vaccinating birds against the flu.

Montana waterfowl are not carrying H5N1.

This article says that the global poultry industry is responsible for bird flu.

In Kaliningrad, they are shooting wild birds to try and keep the bird flu under control.

Myanmar culled 1,000 birds after a new outbreak.

I've avoided this story--the one that has people in Japan (is it always Japan or am I wrong?) where people are having reactions to Tamiflu and committing suicide, etc. I run it here because it was in Time and could be an excuse for Georgia and Florida to not purchase their Tamiflu.

In Hong Kong, there is a human case of the milder H9N2.

ProMed has this story.

March 19 Flu Update

A 2-year old boy in Egypt has the bird flu. Said to be stabilized with Tamiflu.

ProMed has this story as well. Note mod comment below:

A significant feature of these apparently unrelated cases is that the 2 patients are residents of Aswan in Lower Egypt, whereas the majority of Egyptian cases have occurred in Upper Egypt. Although Egypt now has the largest number of confirmed human cases outside of Asia, mortality at 50 percent is much lower than the 77.8 percent experienced in Indonesia and closer to the overall global 60.1 percent, possibly as a result of prompt resort to Tamiflu treatment.

A 21 year old woman died of bird flu in Indonesia.

There's also a new outbreak in Thailand.

Bird flu is also said to be spreading in Nigeria.

CIDRAP ties all of the above up in one tidy package.

This report says Japan has detected H5N1 in an Eagle.

Kits are being developed for quicker diagnosis of bird flu.

Russia claims to have developed a new anti-viral drug.

VOA with the official version of what is being done for bird flu protection.

People in India are reminded they are vulnerable to the bird flu.

Bird sellers are happy in Pakistan, because the bird flu has receded.

An outreach specialist at the Summit County (Akron, OH) health department is talking to people about the bird flu.

Media report of the recent multi-nation flu exercise in Asia.

Charles Doherty, who won the nobel prize for influenza work, is now working on H5N1 and AIDS.

A scientist from Generex is going to give a "state of the vaccine" speech at a conference.

At the big meeting in Turkey of flu docs, the docs backed vaccine access for poor countries, as noted in the Indonesian dispute.

Revere blogs this meeting...notes high value, wonders when the group will share what it has learned to a wider audience.

Via an alert reader, Michigan recently participated in a drill to see how fast they could generate volunteers in an emergency.

"Through our MI Volunteer Registry, Michigan now has the ability to immediately get the right volunteers to the places where their specific skills are needed most," said Ball. "Bottom line, that means helping people in need and saving lives."

Monday, March 19, 2007

March 18 Flu Update

The ASEAN oseltamivir stockpile will be in Singapore which makes good sense.

An Australian publication says that the region needs 1 million more bird flu masks, and that the additional masks could help to stretch drug supplies.

Nigeria is organizing a mass rally to discuss the bird flu. Hopefully, they won't follow this same technique if a pandemic begins.

The world's bird flu doctors are meeting in Turkey to discuss their experiences treating emerging cases. As with much in the flu arena, it appears we are closing to knowing the questions than the answers.

"If we can make a list -- What are the questions of highest priority and what needs to be done to answers those questions? -- I think that already will be a big gain for a meeting like this,'' says de Jong, a virologist at the Tropical Medicine Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where some of the first H5N1 patients were treated.

Abu Dhabi has banned the importation of live birds--"even a feather."

In Micronesia, 40 people completed a pandemic flu training session.

A professor in Texas gives his ideas on how the state can be ready to fight the bird flu. Note emphasis on surge capacity--something I think is solvable and ignored.

The Philippines is tagetting illegal the wild bird trade.

The Mayor of Jakarta has set a deadline for door-to-door searches for illegal backyard poultry to be completed. The deadline is in two weeks.

You may have noted some comments on yesterday's post concerning problems with the legislature funding Tamiflu purchases in Florida. The same thing is happening in Georgia.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

March 17 Flu Update

There's a new outbreak in Chickens in Kuwait.

However, Kuwait also says it has no human cases.

ProMed on Egypt (flu in vaccinated birds), Nigeria (frenzy when bird flu found earlier.) Interesting quote from China in a story on corn prices....

Market prices for corn in the Jiangsu area are stable to slightly
rising. A large local feed producer says that after the Spring
Festival, there are rumors of avian influenza outbreak[s] in this
area with high death rates for poultry. Breeders are panic-stricken
and do not dare casually stock up. Breeding demand has fallen,
dragging down feed demand. But because incoming market volumes [corn
feed supply] are low, prices quoted by traders rose. Actual
purchasing requirements are comparatively weak.

As noted with wry smiles elsewhere, the Scottish executive says 63,700 people could die in a pandemic. Approximately.

Azerbaijan is now monitoring bird flu on a monthly basis.

A study that shows the bird flu in Russia is related to the Chinese strains may indicate the involvement of migratory birds.

An Australian company says it is working on a way to test people for bird flu before they get onto an airplane.

An alert reader sends this along---Florida lawmakers have not approved $$ to fund participation in the US government's discount Tamiflu program. This has DHHS concerned.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

March 16 Flu Update

An Indonesia man has died of bird flu. It is the 65th death in the country.

The second human case in Laos is now lab confirmed.

ProMed on Laos and Indonesia.

Helen Branswell on the idea that the US and Canada could mix their vaccines.

"The fundamental principle is something that we clearly are interested in."

But Fauci said there are technical issues that need to be addressed, including finding out from companies what goes into their adjuvants, because "when we mix it up with a particular antigen and inject it into somebody, we don’t want to do that blindly."

The USDA says that sick birds will be too sick to migrate to Alaska.

A Maryland company is preparing to release a bird flu vaccine in a patch.

Effect Measure on yesterday's report on the strontium being used to track migration patterns. Revere thinks this could be valuable, but it is really early.

Hey, for you pigeon racing fans, the ban on pigeon racing has been LIFTED in Europe.

In Minnesota, a small community holds a conference on the role of the faith community in a pandemic. Which, I might add could be huge.

A Welsh doctor has a bird flu warning for the people of the Cayman Islands.

Canadian business writer says that the bird flu scare was an overreaction.

Friday, March 16, 2007

March 15 Flu Update

An Australian professor speaking at Harvard has strong words for Indonesia's bird flu efforts.

"There's a level of rhetoric and a level of reality and an increasing gap between rhetoric and reality," said James Fox, visiting professor of Australian studies in Harvard's Anthropology Department.

The Chief Vet at the UN says detection has improved, but Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria still lack sufficient bird flu controls.

A British expert says Taiwan is prepared to fight the bird flu.

Scientists are using strontium to monitor bird flu movements.

2,000 ducks will be served in the Philippines, despite bird flu fears ("it we change our lives, the virus wins")

CIDRAP on yesterday's USDA announcement on food safety.

Revere also blogs this. Revere, as always, is afraid the public won't be told the truth because it will "scare" them.

ProMed on the latest case in Egypt. The young girl is receiving Tamiflu.

Here's an article from the US State Department's online publication Lifesaving Vaccines. It is about health authorities working together on a vaccine.

Newton County, Arkansas, is just getting started on its bird flu plans.

Similar work is ongoing in Santa Barbara County, CA.

McDuffie County, Georgia, "shined" in its pandemic drill.

The Economist applies some long-held principles of, well, Economics, to the question of vaccines.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

March 14 Flu Update

There's a new case in Egypt. A 10-year old girl has bird flu.

The FDA has announced a new pandemic plan. It will, in part, attempt to figure out how to test for bird flu in the food supply.

CIDRAP has this on the FDA plan, including more on food safety proposals.

CIDRAP also on yesterday's announcement that Indonesia is holding out for a vaccine sharing agreement.

Effect Measure on yesterday's story on the ability to stretch the stockpile by using adjuvants, combining one vaccine with another, etc.

You remember there was a scare when three Australian scientists working with bird flu were feared to have contracted the disease. Tests were negative.

Green Valley AZ is holding bird flu meetings to show they take a pandemic seriously.

Special bird flu measures created in Myanmar.

The USDA and the UN are going to pool knowledge on a variety of issues, including bird flu.

Middlebury College (VT) is preparing a pandemic plan.

ProMed on the migratory bird debate, which seems to be tilting away from migration, from what I can see. Note the mod comment:

One should never say "never", but the authors' comment that "the risk and probably the frequency of intercontinental virus transfer inthis region are relatively low" would seem to be cautiously on the high side, that is, the risk is probably negligible. - Mod.MHJ, JW

ProMed also has news from Afghanistan, and a search for some obscure data from Djibouti.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

MArch 13 Flu update

As reported earlier, the standoff between Indonesia and WHO continues. NO sample sharing until Indonesia is assured in writing that the strains will not be used in an "unaffordable" vaccine.

CIDRAP with what might be today's most far-reaching news. A review of studies says that influenza is generally not airborne, but is transmitted at close quarters. This is contrary to a great deal of research, which the study finds to be faulty. The research team supports more robust research and prophalytic anti-virals.

Dr. Osterholm has doubts:

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News, expressed skepticism about the authors' conclusion that airborne transmission is unlikely to be a major factor in spreading flu. He said that view doesn't fit well with the seasonal flu's typical pattern of erupting nearly simultaneously in widely separated places.

"From my 30 years of experience I've always been impressed with how seasonal flu functions on a community basis as an aerosol-transmitted disease," he said. "We can see outbreaks in areas separated by hundreds of miles; that's much more consistent with an aerosol-transmitted pathogen—though that doesn't prove aerosol transmission. Pandemics have marched around the world in weeks to months in eras before we had jet planes. That smacks much more of an agent that's transmitted by the aerosol route."

We wondered here why the US was moving ahead with a pretty blah Sanofi vaccine, when Canada appears to have a better one that uses an adjuvant. Apparently, the US is now considering mixing the two approaches.

New avian cases have emerged in Myanmar.

India has banned the import of live poultry--pigs, and pig meat--from flu stricken nations. Inclusion of swine is interesting.

I have said here often that what fascinates me about the flu is how it finds the weak points in how we live...without fail, like water finding a leak. Here is a story in that vein...the cultural practices of rural villages in Egypt and how they contribute to the bird flu.

Also from Egypt, bird flu has emerged in flocks that had supposedly been vaccinated. It is unclear if the vaccine didn't work, if the strain is different, or people lied about their flocks being vaccinated.

24 penguins died at SeaWorld in Australia. Bird flu is ruled out.

Counties in Idaho are working on their pandemic prep.

Brazil says it has found an effective adjuvant.

Via an alert reader, Scottsdale AZ is also doing flu planning--before the issue hits the front page.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

March 12 Flu Update (Late)

A 2o year old woman in Indonesia has bird flu.

ProMed on the Indonesian case. Get this: story says she was exposed when she "cleaned a spot where her neighbors had thrown dead chickens."

Over the past week, more bird flu cases have emerged in Afghanistan.

CIDRAP on the cases announced in Egypt and Indonesia.

ProMed on the latest new human cases, plus the WHO official case count.

ProMed with news (old) from China, Tibet and Afghanistan.

It appears a rough meeting was held in Vietnam to learn the lessons of last year's bird flu fight. If you will recall, Vietnam claimed to be flu free much of the year before the disease emerged again.

Deputy Minister Bui Ba Bong pointed the finger at the complacency of authorities and people in bird flu-hit provinces, saying their lax implementation of preventive measures was to blame.

Bong lambasted inefficient controls on the smuggling of infected fowl in border provinces, and admitted cold weather made for a ripe environment for the spread of the disease.

Kuwait continues to test Falcons in the zoo for bird flu.

Meanwhile, Hungary says it has cleared the nation of bird flu.

A Nigerian state has banned eggs from being imported.

A Japanese company has begun clinical trials of a flu drug in the US.

Bangladesh says migrating birds carry bird flu risk.

Fiji story on Pacific Island meeting on bird flu--no cases yet, but still at risk.

Monday, March 12, 2007

March 11 Flu Update

Based on three straight days of success, Kuwait says bird flu is contained.

ProMed on Egypt (recent case).

New Zealand says it is ready now that it has enough Tamiflu for 30% of its population.

Culling continues in South Korea.

Worcester MA, the city which actually tested how fast it could vaccinate people, continues with the bird flu drills.

India has a poultry vaccine. No one wants it.

Pennsylvania (Lebanon) is conducting flu planning, with a strong eye toward how the area was hit in 1918.

Pacific Island Health Ministers are meeting to discuss the bird flu.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

March 10 Flu Update

A four year old in Egypt has the bird flu.

Vietnam is also strengthening its fight against the bird flu.

300 people were mass tested for flu in Kuwait. Not surprisingly, those are coming back negative.

Scotland's bird flu plan is "laid bare."

The World Bank is giving $265 million to Nepal.

Nigeria continues to try and educate farmers on bird flu.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March 9 Flu Update

Reports continue to come in of spreading bird flu in Afghanistan.

There's a third outbreak in Hanoi.

The UAE says it will ban live poultry products to help fight bird flu.

Britain is lifting its bird flu restrictions.

Training on detecting bird flu was conducted in SE Asia and India.

Revere looks at how the travel industry looks ahead to bird flu.

ProMed with a new outbreak in Russia, and news from Vietnam, Laos and Hong Kong.

There have been dozens of stories about the body Britain is exhuming to fight bird flu. I generally have not linked to them, but here is an example.

Ditto the reams of stories on Tamiflu causing suicide. Here is an example.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

March 8 Flu Update

In South Korea, there's a new avian outbreak and a "suspected" case.

There's a fresh outbreak in Afghanistan.

Helen Branswell writes on the GSK vaccine...drift protection means it could be stockpiled.

Dr. Theresa Tam of the Public Health Agency of Canada said the results are encouraging, but they don't yet prove giving a person one dose of H5N1 vaccine in advance of a pandemic would protect the person against serious illness or death.

The EU has a report that says it is the best prepared in the world...and it won't be ready for three years.

CIDRAP with the world report, including Laos and China's denial.

Roche has given all 5,300 of its US employees Tamiflu in case a pandemic breaks out.

ProMed with news from a number of countries---only new report is from Iran, which has some suspected Avian flu cases.

ProMed with its promised analysis of the flu emerging from Guangdong. Notes some quibbles, but says it does identify this province as ground zero for disease control measures.

The BBC reports that food passed through the British turkey farm while bird flu was there.

Dr. Robin Robinson of HHS will speak at a flu summit next week.

Dubai remains vigilant against the bird flu.

Intellectual Property Watch says that the Indonesian stance is trouble for the patenting of medicines.

A Pro-Poultry site has a bird flu educational handbook.

The Flathead City-County Health Department in Montana says their pandemic plan keeps improving.

Baker University in Kansas held a pandemic summit for its school. They have a task force working on the issue.

In Columbia, MO, local people know they will have to be self-reliant in a pandemic.

Promed with the low-down on bar headed goose breeding.

Effect Measure on plans in Indonesia to continue to study bird flu in cats.

March 7 Flu Update

The bird flu has reached Hanoi (avian outbreaks).

Bird flu continues to break out in Kuwait. (I don't think we are aware of a country with this kind of avian presence that has not had a human case.)

China says it is not the source of the bird flu virus.

"The findings, which say Guangdong is the source of the multiple avian flu virus strains spreading both regionally and internationally, are the wrong conclusion to the evidence and lack credibility," the China Daily quoted He Xia, a Guangdong agricultural official, as saying.

It did not elaborate.

Effect Measure blogs the paper that started all this, ending up frustrated by the quality of the writing and the way the ideas were presented.

ProMed has the news from a number of countries, and also mentions this article based on the press release from the University. Note even their mod says he/she is withholding comment until the actual article is available.

China claims a mass cull has taken care of the flu problem in Tibet.

CIDRAP on the Iowa Flu Market. Dr. Osterholm thinks it is a bad idea.

Not everyone thinks the AFM is a good idea. "It really compounds uncertainty," said Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of CIDRAP News.

"Right now the world's best experts can't tell you what's going to happen, so having 100 people predict what they don't know doesn't add any more precision or intelligence to the issue," Osterholm said. "It's maybe not quite a gimmick, but it doesn't give me any more reason to think we'll be more informed about the next pandemic."

He added, "Whether you have a market or not, you still need good disease surveillance. This just seems like a glitzy way of doing disease surveillance."

This article from the Globe and Mail (Canada) is excellent. Talks about British NHS plans to have people help their neighbors during a pandemic (picking up meds, etc). Question is this...sure you're a good neighbor. But would you be in a pandemic?

Japan is spending money to prepare for a bird flu pandemic.

Novavax of Pennsylvania is a late entrant into the vaccine war, but they have spunk.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

March 6 Flu Update

China is now reporting an outbreak of bird flu in Tibet (it was at a poultry market, so it is hard to determine where it came from).

Bird flu is 20Km from Hanoi.

CIDRAP with this must read. Journal of Infectious Diseases undertakes a very careful look at the 1918 flu and what we can learn from it. Especially note their critical look at some dogmatic views of the pandemic.

With the flu breaking out in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has instituted flu emergency procedures.

Scientists in Australia doing an experiment with wild ducks may have been accidentally exposed to bird flu.

Scientific American reports on the GSK flu vaccine (multiple strains).

Exactly how the adjuvant system works remains a mystery as well—even more so because GSK will not reveal what adjuvant system it used, revealing only that there are 25 new adjuvants being analyzed. "Does it somehow cause a whole new spectrum of shapes on the surface proteins of the flu virus to be recognized? Or does it increase the amplitude of the immune response?" Innis asks. "Those tests haven't been done yet, but effects that are present at very low doses with the adjuvant system are almost completely absent at eight times that dose without the adjuvant system." Its effectiveness is clear: the immune response in human blood was 25 times stronger with the adjuvant present than without it.

CIDRAP also reports on the GSK vaccine.

From Uganda, an article with facts on the bird flu.

BioCryst has a deal in Japan for bird flu therapy.

Author Michael Greger will speak to school administrators in Binghampton.

Bird flu article for the real estate industry--very interesting in fact, how a pandemic might effect people differently.

Building owners and property managers are particularly vested since any potential disaster affects every aspect of their job, from building operations to tenant safety to business continuity.

A Brazilian company is also producing vaccines against the bird flu.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

March 5 Flu Update

Helen Branswell on the big vaccine news, that GSK says it has a vaccine that protects against multiple strains of bird flu.

The GSK vaccine is made with an adjuvant, a chemical that significantly enhances the activity of the vaccine. Earlier work by the company showed it could trigger what is thought to be a protective response with two small doses of vaccine, at 3.8 micrograms apiece.

An unadjuvanted vaccine made by Sanofi Pasteur required more than 23 times as much antigen - two doses of 90 micrograms - and even then fewer than half of volunteers generated antibody levels thought to be protective.

(Given this, can someone with a better background explain to me why the US is using the Sanofi vaccine?) Revere blogs on the Sanofi vaccine being "better than nothing."

China is the source of H5N1, according to this analysis. More specifically, Guangdong.\

And Guangdong appears to be the source of renewed waves of the H5N1 strain, which has killed or forced the destruction of hundreds of millions of birds, the team at the University of California Irvine reported.

"We show that the Chinese province of Guangdong is the source of multiple H5N1 strains spreading at both regional and international scales," the researchers wrote...

Russia says that new cases have stopped emerging in birds.

China is gearing up to fight the flu, including required immunization of all domestic poultry.

There were dead birds in Myanmar, but they do not have H5N1, according to reports.

There are now 50 avian cases of flu in Kuwait.

25,000 birds have been culled in Kuwait.

Reports from Laos continue to indicate that the country had its first bird flu death.

WHO concurs, via CIDRAP.

Africans are reminded that bird flu remains a threat.

Business Week on the leverage Indonesia has won for poor countries in the struggle to allocate flu resources.

A Canadian professor outlines the threats of bird flu for a Romanian publication.

A table top exercise will be held in Saipan.

A couple of days ago, we ran a story about a vaccine solution proposed in Hong Kong. This is a profile of the researcher, who is using techniques he learned fighting AIDS.

A Health Region in Alberta is holding a pandemic seminar.

Malaysia says it is sharing its experience in diagnosing flu with other countries, since they are bird flu free and all.

The UAE is stockpiling Tamiflu to prepare for a bird flu pandemic.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

March 4th Flu Update

A woman who was suspected to be Laos' second human case has died.

ProMed on Laos...

Flu awareness is promoted in Nigeria.

Myanmar says other dead birds did not have bird flu.

In the Middle East, a Cooperation Committee is meeting to review recent developments in Kuwait.

Two more birds have H5N1 in Kuwait.

ProMed on Kuwait, new cases in Pakistan, and Malaysia says it will cull, not vaccinate.

ProMed with a good post on China. Note first the new case reported yesterday. Also, note that yesterday we ran a story about a flu survivor donating his serum to the sick woman. Here is what the mod says:

The use of human convalescent serum, possibly from an immunologically unmatched source, is a novel and risky approach in the treatment of avian influenza. Further information is awaited regarding the outcome of this treatment and whether other more conventional approaches such as the use of anti-neuraminidase drugs have been used.

Effect Measure calls for a true epidemiological study of bird flu.

A large and systematic seroprevalence survey (i.e., looking for blood antibody evidence of past infection) in Vietnam might answer some of these questions. Results showing little or no evidence of undiagnosed past infection might not settle all the questions, but it would lessen some of the nagging doubt that all is well in Vietnam. Comparison with Thailand where mass culling has been the main control technique and in Laos and Cambodia where little effective control of any kind exists would be instructive.

Hong Kong researcher has high hopes for his bird flu vaccine.

Senior Citizen pub says (with some self-satisfaction), that the kids will get the bird flu worse than their grandparents (but the world is still going to hell in a handbasket)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

March 3 Flu Update

Slow news day...

Kuwait says two more chickens were found with bird flu.

Three more avian outbreaks are reported in Myanmar.

Myanmar says it is increasing bird flu protection.

There's also a new outbreak in Vietnam.

In Kuwait, the media is asked to call the government first if it gets rumors of bird flu.

In China, a man who survived the bird flu is donating his serum to the latest victim.

An avian case of H5N1 is confirmed in Hong Kong.

Effect Measure on WHO's "virtual" vaccine stockpile, and whether poor countries should worry that it would mean "virtual vaccinations."

March 2 Flu Update

Seven more birds in Kuwait have bird flu.

Two things here--China confirms human case, and WHO disputes that it is close to a deal with Indonesia to share virus.

WHO is calling for vaccine to be stockpiled, in a "virtual stockpile."

More on bird flu's reappearance in Vietnam.

ProMed on two suspected cases in Afghanistan (reported earlier).

The military in Indonesia is going to support the huge job of fighting flu on thousands of islands.

US State Department on the state of flu in the world today.

In the UAE, a maid from Indonesia got sick handling poultry. What happens next? Panic ensued.

Article from Belize on bird flu prep.

Hong Kong is also stepping up its bird flu measures.

Revere comments on the flu market at Iowa, after many emails. He doesn't think much of it, especially with people playing with the money of others. It would be more interesting if they put their own money in the game?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March 1 Flu Update--In Like a Lion

As predicted in our comments thread, there is a reported human case in China.

Two people in Afghanistan are suspected of having bird flu.

For the first time in three days, there are no new cases in Kuwait.

Bird flu has come back to Southern Vietnam (in birds).

Japan declares its bird flu outbreak over.

ProMed also has the OIE report on an outbreak in Myanmar.

CIDRAP reports on confirmed new cases in Egypt and China.

ProMed has similar news.

Indonesia and WHO continue to work on their dispute.

Back to the graveyard...could an exhumed British body yield clues to the Spanish flu?

The Diocese of Toronto (Anglican) has provided a resource guide to its parishes.

Five public health directors talked at Yale about the "impending" pandemic.

Brampton, ON also has a pandemic plan.

The Town Council in Middlebury VT also has approved a pandemic plan.

Tier one begins with health care workers, support personnel and vaccinators. Next are high-risk patients with one high risk condition, patients six months to 64 years-old with two high risk conditions and people six months-old or older who were hospitalized in the past year with influenza, pneumonia or a high-risk condition.

A meta analysis of 1918 flu studies reveals...the confounding and the ambiguous...

"Today, nearly a century after the 1918 influenza pandemic, its mysteries remain largely unexplained," says Dr. Fauci, NIAID director. "Much work remains to be done, by scientists as well as by historians and other scholars, with regard to the many unanswered questions surrounding this historic pandemic. These studies must be part of our preparedness efforts as we face the prospect of a future influenza pandemic."
A pandemic drill in Longview TX was completed successfully.

Avian influenza is coming to the Iowa Futures Market.

Though not from the flu, Revere has this article on the cytokine storm, the suspected culprit in many flu deaths.

February 28 Flu Non-Update

I'm traveling today and won't be able to update the blog. Next update will be Thursday evening (maybe), or Friday (for sure).