Monday, April 30, 2007

April 30 Flu Update

One of the hidden crises in a pandemic...we would be woefully short of respirators, and that's just for the people with flu---not counting the other patients. A group in New York has a plan on how to ration access, via CIDRAP.

Could you create a chicken that was resistant to pathogens? Some apparently think so.

Bird flu measures cost Kc1bn in the Czech Republic.

Warnings continue in Nigeria about bird flu.

A US official visited Australia. He says a pandemic cannot be prevented.

A Voice of America show is transcribed here on the bird flu.

Bird flu planning is going on in Alaska, where there is little margin for error.

Google is being used to help track the bird flu.

The Communications Program at Johns Hopkins is looking at bird flu.

"Technology has greatly increased access to information for people around the world," Yansen said. "One of CCP's global initiatives is the development of an interactive Web-based tool kit in avian and pandemic influenza." The tool is being developed in collaboration with international organizations including UNICEF, FAO, World Health Organization, CDC and the World Bank, and is funded by the Government of Japan. With resources from all over the world, the tool provides access to essential Web sites, documents, research studies and emergency-preparedness models for developing strategic avian and pandemic influenza communication plans.

Azerbaijan plans flu monitoring for May.

Kenya and 47 other countries are getting funds to fight bird flu.

Dr. Michael Gregor, as has been mentioned here before, has written a book on bird flu, heavy on criticism of the poultry industry. Here is a review of the book in the Journal of Virology. They like it. (I read it as well, and it is a highly readable account).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

April 29 Flu Update

This has only happened a couple of times in my 2.5 years of running this blog. No news today.

April 28 Flu Update

UNICEF story on flu education efforts in Indonesia.

Sitam is a shopkeeper who keeps a pen of about 20 chickens behind his home in Central Java. He regularly disinfects the area and has vaccinated his chickens against the virus. “We are afraid of avian flu,” says Sitam. “But we are doing whatever we can to protect ourselves.”
Fargo, ND is planning its flu strategy. They fear that over 500 people could be hospitalized there.

Here's a pretty good graphic describing how they ran the numbers.

A 101-year old woman in North Dakota recalls the flu spreading like "wildlfire," a metaphor which probably wasn't a cliche to her.

Friday, April 27, 2007

April 27 Flu Update

The EU says it is ready to approve a cell-based vaccine. This kind of production could eventually make a big difference in future pandemics.

CIDRAP has this story as well.

Russia Doc warns of Bird Flu Summer...AgSec says country is ready.

CDC holds bird flu "war game." They say it is like '24' without violence.

In the script, a student infected with a new strain of H5N1 virus returns from Indonesia where a bird flu outbreak is under way. He dies but not before infecting others, including members of a swimming team.

On Day One, 12 people contract the disease in four states and 25 percent die, a rate that shows the virus to be particularly lethal.

Border guards are told to be on alert in Pakistan.

The saga is over. Florida lawmakers budgeted $0 for Tamiflu, the only state not to participate in the Federal program.

The Wisconsin College of Medicine has a developed a website that will use bioinformatics to let people track known bird flu sequences.

Try it's free and fun.

More on the Roche/Tamiflu production issue. Apparently, Roche ramped up production, and then governments quit ordering as the pressure to "do something" about bird flu waned. Roche thinks this is a bad move--surprise?

Revere blogs the Tamiflu issue, noting that it would take Roche four months to ramp back up to full capacity. He then questions the free market approach to producing this drug.

ProMed on Malaysian fears of bird smuggling. Note mod comment on how smugglers will adjust if necessary.

Article from France touts national leadership in Tamiflu stockpiling.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

April 26 Flu Update

The Thai Government says it is allocating 9B Bhat to fight bird flu. That's $257M. Note this phrase, emphasis added.

The Thai government has stepped up its preventive measures against the outbreak of Avian influenza -- bird flu -- in response to concerns that an outbreak is likely to take place later this year,

China says that it needs funds (??) and help to fight the bird flu.

"Just because an avian influenza pandemic hasn't happened yet, or because there is lower media coverage at times about pandemic flu, does not mean the very real threat has gone away," said World Health Organisation epidemiologist Nima Asgari.

World Bank funding for China to fight bird flu.

Roche now has more production capacity for Tamiflu than it does demand. So, they are going to cut back a little.

CIDRAP also has the Tamiflu story. Note research priorities for Roche.

CIDRAP also has the story from yesterday--an H5N1 vaccine stockpile might be possible.

Revere covers the news of the vaccine stockpile....chalking it up to a "poverty of imagination."

US State Department covers this story, too.

Is Edmonton planning to use Coldfx to quell a pandemic?

Taiwan continues to work on its flu vaccine.

Here's a new China, a DVD piracy outfit was housed in a factory claiming to be doing bird flu research.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

April 25 Flu Update

WHO says it is considering a stockpile of 60 million doses of vaccine for poor nations. (Keep in mind--this is not very many doses).

Helen Branswell writes on this, including the rationale for the size of the stockpile.

When the idea of a virtual vaccine stockpile was brought up there, a representative from Thailand raised the one per cent figure, saying his country would need enough vaccine to protect 600,000 essential workers - health-care workers, police and the military.

The Rand Corporation is the latest group to detail the lack of readiness for a pandemic.

Despite these advances, Lurie said, there are still huge gaps in preparedness.
She said one hindrance to answering the question, “Are we prepared?” has been that there is no clear understanding of what being prepared means.

Hungary continues to insist that it did not cause the flu outbreak in Suffolk.

Kuwait continues to inform world that no new cases of bird flu have emerged there.

OK. So there were 2,500 birds in Iceland that were due to die anyway. So, they killed (culled) them as part of a drill for pandemic flu.

Irish GPs are being asked to comment on that nation's pandemic flu plan.

Qatar ran a bird flu exercise yesterday.

Here's an interesting story. An 107 year old woman in Toledo says that surviving the 1918 flu improved her health.

More on the poultry industry and a lack of hygiene promoting bird flu.

Article from Nebraska on respirators during a pandemic.

Yesterday, we ran the story of Des Moines, IA, looking for a place to quarantine people during a a pandemic. Effect Measure opens a can on that idea.

April 24 Flu Update

AP says that while bird has "flown" off the headlines in the West, it remains a big deal in other parts of the world. Article details the rich/poor struggle over vaccines, etc. Interesting quote from Dr. Osterholm, who has persuasively made the point that we are all in this together.

"It's not just about altruistic public health," said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota infectious disease specialist. "When we realize Southeast Asia and China are shut down economically from a pandemic perspective, so goes our economy. So goes many critical products and services that we count on every day."

Latest flu misery index...WHO says $200B global hit, 1 billion sick, 2 to 7 million deaths.

For those of you who look for signals things are getting worse, here is an interseting quote from the lead official in the ASEAN bird flu task force.

The disease, according to him, is becoming more complicated and vaccines are not as effective.

WHO has provided grants to six countries to help them build production capacity for bird flu, partly in response to the rich/poor debate.

ProMed on research that shows three clades are circulating in Europe and Africa--and that, in fact, Nigeria has had two separate flu introductions.

The Philippines claim to be still flu free.

Meanwhile, China says its bird flu situation is stable.

Farmers in Bangladesh are worried about bird flu. Exports are halted, etc.

Officials in Des Moines, IA, are looking for a quarantine site in the event of a pandemic.

Experts in Lebanon, PA say that bird flu is no reason to panic, but it is inevitable.

The Waterloo ONTARIO plan for a pandemic has been released.

Interesting Canadian Construction industry talks about flu prep. Interesting points, including the benefit of cross-training during widespread absenteeism.

Effect Measure asks why the poultry company was reimbursed for its bird flu expenses, but not the workers who lost their job.

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23 Flu Update

More on the Kuwait outbreak reported yesterday. Ostriches, near the Saudi Border.

Revere has a story on how fragile the healthcare system is--with some examples from around the world about the effect of a pandemic on healthcare delivery--even routine healthcare delivery.

The President of the Philippines has ordered the protection of migratory birds in coastal area.

Myanmar has reduced bird flu restrictions after a lack of outbreak in specific region.

A Hong Kong foundation has donated 3 million euros to the bird flu fight.

Yemen starts to talk national planning for bird flu.

Flu planning is ongoing in Longmont, Colorado.

No Church is doing more planning for bird flu. More from the Anglican Church of Toronto.

Dr. Yaffe explained that, unlike SARS, which was primarily a hospital-acquired infection, influenza is a community-based infection. “You go to the supermarket, you go to the bank, you go on transit, you go out with friends – that’s how you are going to get it,” she said.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April 22 Flu Update

ProMed reports new outbreaks in Myanmar and Kuwait.

York (UK) article says that concern over payout to turkey producer is off-base. The bigger worry is that DEFRA could not pin down the exact source of H5N1 infection.

Article in Kenya says country at risk due to poultry smuggling.

ProMed revisits the migratory bird/smuggling debate. In this case, a wild hawk that had H5N1 in Japan had the Qinghai strain. You take it from there.

April 21 Flu Update

An agricultural area of Kuwait has apparently had an outbreak of avian flu.

Six more farms in Bangladesh have bird flu as well.

Sanofi is upping production capacity at is French plant. Within five years they expect they could produce 240 million doses in a year.

ProMed on WHO's avian flu clinical guidance.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

April 20 Flu Update

China now says it will send samples to WHO from last year.

CIDRAP with a must read. The Private Sector steps in where government falls short. It profiles two companies that have programs to provide Tamiflu to its employees and families. Roche says 35o corporations have bought stockpiles.

UK farmers say that they have lost 25M pounds because the UK cannot be certified bird flu free.

Dr. Michael Greger spoke in Grand Rapids, MI. Greger has commented on this site in the past, and wrote a book that points the finger of blame for pandemic flu--and other health problems--to the poultry industry. Here, he tells the audience that a pandemic is inevitable.

CIDRAP also has a story on WHO treatment recs from yesterday, including the recommendation against steroid use.

Revere blogs this story, as well, noting that common standards for collection of clinical data would be just as important as common treatment standards.

ProMed has some facts on the great Turkey controversy in the UK.

Vietnam continues to research the bird flu vaccine.

The Kitchener ON pandemic plan is 283 pages long.

A pandemic drill was held in Houston.

Speech on small business continuity during a pandemic is delivered in LA.

Laos reports that people in rural areas are learning about bird flu.

A vet in Australia reminds the public that lack of media coverage does not mean the pandemic has gone away.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 19 Flu Update

Helen Branswell, again on the case, with WHO's new advice on treating bird flu. Recommendations included on corticosteroids, Tamiflu, etc.

Here is the link to the WHO recs.

Most of the noise in the system is from the report in Britain on the outbreak at the turkey farm in Suffolk. People are angry the company received a payout of that size.

The report apparently implicated Hungary. Hungary, in fact, denies the implication.

Birdlife notes that wild birds were "exonerated" in the Suffolk case.

CIDRAP notes that the cause is essentially undetermined in the Britain case.

Just imagine (if you will), what these headlines would look like in the event of an actual pandemic.

Effect Measure weighs in with its normal wise counsel on the CIDRAP article on grassroots pandemic prep.

ProMed weighs in on the Kuwaiti Falcon issue. Note excellent mod comment on how the disease might have gotten there.

A Pharma exec makes a speech in California about pandemic prep.

The Red Cross in Vietnam is spreading the word on the bird flu.

In Finland, a couple has been charged with violating bird flu restrictions by letting their geese go outside during migration season.

Article from local papers in Michigan on bird flu reaching US shores.

ABC news reports on Tamiflu and Relenza losing their punch for as flu virus adapts, with comments on implications for pandemic prep.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

April 18 Flu Update

More follow up on the "China won't share samples" story.

Burma--we're talking Burma!--has been recognized for its bird flu action.

30 pigeons died in Bahrain, but it is not thought to be bird flu.

Revere weighs in on the FDA approved vaccine. Note that he mostly commented before on the inadequacy of this vaccine, and this is a basic follow up to that.

Kuwait says its bird flu outbreak was not caused by the illegal Falcon trade.

The local officials say there is no bird flu in Hyderabad.

The final report on the Suffolk situation is being published in Britain. Infected poultry from Hungary is expected to be the cause.

This VOA story says we can increase our vaccine capacity, but it doesn't say how.

This is an interesting tool...using a map in the Netherlands to determine where bird flu might spread among poultry.

Good flu summary run by paper in Toronto. Good mix of Spanish flu and current info.

Similar flu summary story from Egypt.

Yet another story from the Philippines pushing its bird flu measures. Seems to be one a day.

Manipur (NE India) held a bird flu education programm(e).

Finally, Gina Kolata of the New York Times was featured on their Science podcast. Her book is what got me hooked on the bird flu, so I was glad to hear her. One thing she says--that has been noted in recent studies--is that in 1918, the cities that acted quickly had the fewest problems. Let me say that in today's political times, and following the Swine flu situation, I don't believe cities will have the ability to take real, strong action until it is completely and totally obvious even to the most jaded observer that the situation is beyond hope. Which, I fear, will be too late.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

April 17th Flu Update

By far, today's lead story is the the FDA has approved its first bird flu vaccine. Sanofi Aventis is already stockpiling the virus, which will not be available commercially. We all remember this--its the two-shot vaccine that has limited coverage. Virus is not approved for anyone under 18. Note the less than inspiring comments (though perhaps they are honest) below.

The Sanofi vaccine is given in two 90-microgram doses given about a month apart. The two shots contain 12 times the 15-microgram dose contained in regular winter flu shots.

"You'd like to respond to a pandemic quicker than that and ideally you'd like a vaccine where you had one dose and would need less antigen. Those types of vaccines are under study and development," Norman Baylor, director of the FDA's vaccine office, told reporters, adding later: "At this point, this is where we are."

Those other studies are looking at the use of immune boosters, called adjuvants, to try to improve the effectiveness of the H5N1 vaccine. Eventually, adjuvants also might shrink the needed dose for a pandemic vaccine closer to what's now used in seasonal shots.

CIDRAP also has the vaccine story. Note this:

HHS has said it is moving forward with the development of a "clade 2" H5N1 vaccine, based on viruses that circulated in birds in China and Indonesia in 2003-04 and spread to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa in 2005 and 2006

This might be the most significant article of the day. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center recently did a study (cited here on CIDRAP) that says pandemic planning is failing to hit the grassroots. My opinion is that the grassroots is where the only progress will be made, just as it was in the New Orleans flood. In general, official forces were in the way and everyday people saved lives. (also cites a few other flu blogs).

Here is a link to the report from Pitt.

Here's a National Academies report on the same topic.

Pakistan has budgeted funds for the bird flu fight.

From Britain, evidence that says that the flu might cause heart attacks. Think about that during a pandemic. (Did anyone ever go back and look at heart attack rates during the 1968 pandemic?)

Taiwan wants WHO membership--partly to aid in bird flu fight.

Nigeria continues to deny that there are human cases there currently.

An expert tells Fiji that it is not ready for a pandemic.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 16th Flu Update

A new study says that new strains of the bird flu have emerged.

CIDRAP on the latest from Bangladesh and Cambodia, where outbreaks are now being "reported" in the area where the girl died earlier in the week.

CIDRAP also on yesterday's Branswell report on China's lack of sample sharing.

Revere also weighs in on this one with an excellent post, lauding Branswell and roasting the Chinese.

Continuing news of the spread of bird flu across Bangladesh.

More news with concern inside Bangladesh.

Egypt is allocating $40-$42M to fight bird flu.

Normal high quality post from Revere about what you think when the communications minister in Nigeria makes sweeping claims about avian influenza.

There seems to be a lot of bird flu in poultry in Nigeria, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear of more human cases there. There is a categorical and arrogant quality to this denial which makes me uncomfortable. At the very least they need some instruction in risk communication.

Or maybe communication isn't the object here.

In India, poultry in 10 regions are "under surveillance."

Saudi Arabia's recent blanket statement on bird flu is cited in ProMed.

The US is "teaming up" with Indonesia to help fight the bird flu at its source--poultry.

Duchess County, NY, has actually mailed flu info to people in its community, something I have not seen very many reports of.

Excellent article in Commentary magazine about how our society is increasingly vulnerable to infectious disease--and its social side effects.

Hong Kong is now apparently importing poultry from Britain, but not from Suffolk.

Purdue University (in Indiana) is preparing for a pandemic on its campus.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

April 15 Flu Update

Helen Branswell, as always, with the right story. With all the concern over Indonesia sharing samples, what about China? This is a must read.

But as Indonesia loudly objected, Asia’s giant quietly continued to hoard viruses that influenza experts need to monitor changes in the dangerous H5N1 family.

China has not shared human H5N1 virus samples since early 2006, the World Health Organization has confirmed.

Cambodia appears to be indicating there are more outbreaks there.

Here's the OIE report on Cambodia.

Saudi Arabia says there is no risk of a pandemic there.

Bird flu education has reached Thai schools.

Bangladesh is talking compensation for those who have been impacted by bird flu.

Karim said the government would provide taka 70 for each chicken culled since the detection of avian flu on March 23 and the money will be released soon "to bring the demoralised farmers back to the industry".

This story in India tells how drug companies are running to the ramparts to develop vaccines and therapies.

The Chilton (Alabama) EMA is preparing for the worst.

April 14 Flu Update

The first avian outbreak in Algeria has been reported.

This report says a girl died of bird flu in Cambodia on April 5. I believe we reported this earlier, but it is from UPI, which makes me wonder.

This news appears to be fresh--there are new bird outbreaks in Cambodia.

Nigeria emphasizes that there are no new human cases of flu.

In Edmonton, farmers are urged to keep their fowl from drinking water that might have been contaminated by wild geese, etc.

In India, a monitoring committee has been formed to check the bird flu there.

Effect Measure looks at some research that shows that current measures to prevent bird flu from spreading from farm to farm may be insufficient, and that this would be a catastrophe even if the disease never went H2H.

The foreign minister from Laos is in Thailand to talk bird flu, among other things.

The Health Minister in Suriname has issued warnings about the bird flu.

More from Australia on the study that calls out the Tamiflu resistant nature of Influenza B--and that the resistant virus is H2H.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th Flu Update

Since the bird flu threat has "receded," the Dutch agriculture minister has now allowed poultry to go outdoors again.

An Australian doctor says Tamiflu could save "hundreds" of lives.

No such luck in India, since the bird flu "scare" has returned.

Is Taiwan leading the way? Nation plans to produce cell-based flu vaccine.

Due to flu fears, chicken sales are down 40% in Kuwait.

In Monticello, IN, preparation is the best defense.

At Harvard, administrators are testing their bird flu response.

Think only Indonesia is worried about access to vaccine? No, Sweden is too, as Revere notes. They have a rational response--figure out how get domestic capacity.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 12 Flu Update

11 people are being tested for bird flu in Lagos, Nigeria.

ProMed on confirmed deaths in Egypt and Cambodia. Note that in the Cairo death, Tamiflu was administered but did not save the teenager.

India has earmarked 1.3 billion rupees to fight bird flu.

Vietnam reports poultry vaccinations are behind schedule.

The World Bank is giving Vietnam $38 million to fight the bird flu.

Yet another in an unending series of press releases from the Philippines on how it is fighting avian flu.

CIDRAP on whether insects could be used to make flu vaccines instead of eggs.

Revere says this is "pretty interesting" too.

The Health Department in New Canaan is preparing to fight bird flu.

April 11 Flu Update

A teenage girl died of bird flu in Egypt.

Despite culling, restrictions on bird movement, and others measures, bird flu is racing ahead in Bangladesh. (I don't believe any country has had outbreaks like this without having multiple human outbreaks).

ProMed on Pakistan and Indonesia. Note mod comment that Indonesian outbreaks are occurring many miles apart.

Even though there have been no outbreaks, Russia is NOT going to stop preventing bird flu.

Border areas of India are on special alert for bird flu.

Florida's legislature refuses to set aside funds for Tamiflu.

Dubai reports that 35% of people will be infected if flu pandemic starts.

Another province in Philippines reports it is ready for the bird flu

Very interesting post from Revere. The story is out on statins potentially interfering with the cytokine storm that plays a major role in flu lethality. Good thing is that statins are available as generic, plentiful with production capacity, and not toxic, so they can be taken as a preventive measure. Interesting post.

Washburn County, WI, is told that every family can prepare for a pandemic.

We have a new entry in the flu blogosphere--Bird (Flu) Droppings from the UK. Check it out.

Finally, from CIDRAP. There are a couple webinars coming up.

First, tonight, Dr. Osterholm will be participating in a forum sponsored by the Council on Foreign Affairs, one of the first "establishment" organizations to raise the alarm on bird flu.

On April 27, CIDRAP will also hold a webinar for HR professionals.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 10 Flu Update

ProMed says there are two new human cases in Egypt.

Myanmar says it will be open on bird flu.

Kuwait reveals it tested 1,248 people for bird flu, and they were all negative. And, a doc informs the nation that Tamiflu is not a cure.

Nigerian officials says little has changed in how birds are handled there, despite deaths and bird outbreaks.

A bird flu film in Malaysia is released.

Kuwait says it is going to ban imports from Saudi Arabia, which seems exactly backwards.

Thailand and Laos are going to cooperate in bird flu fight.

The City of Cornwell (Canada) heard an update on bird flu.

Revere writes on masks (again!) and a correspondent who admits he is a shameless promoter.

A physicians meeting is taking on special significance with the emergence of the bird flu in the Middle East.

Region 8 in the Philippines is fighting bird flu.

More on the flu fight from the Philippines.

A restaurant industry website from Britain gives "just the facts" on bird flu.

April 9 Bird Flu Update

CIDRAP on new cases in Egypt and Indonesia (reported here previously).

ProMed with the story on recent news from Cambodia. Note that the human case preceded reports of avian cases.

Pakistan has reported avian outbreaks in two provinces.

More bird flu also found in Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, Cambodia has trained 4,700 vets and villagers to fight bird flu.

Alberta is implementing a "highly successful" bird flu surveillance system.

More from Alberta--health systems are working with the legislature to prepare for bird flu.

Hygiene--and how to live with birds--is being taught in Egypt.

Laos has developed an educational puppet show on the bird flu.

A University of Tennessee professor has received grant funds for bird flu work.

CIDRAP with its take on a story we have seen before--big knowledge gaps in how to use a respirator.

Revere with a "quirky" post comparing himself in Williams Sonoma to a flu virus.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April 8 Flu Update

A girl in Egypt has the bird flu. Reports claim that people exposed to her are not sick. She is also the first reported case from Cairo.

Cambodia says their recent death is an isolated case.

On the other hand, this report seems to indicate that this is not true, and a potential cluster may even exist.

South Korea, Japan and China are all stepping up their cooperative bird flu efforts.

Vietnam still urges all its communities to join the bird flu fight.

Outbreaks continue in Bangladesh.

McGill also has some bird flu funding.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

April 7 Flu Update

A 29 year old man has died in Indonesia of bird flu. He is the 74th death in that country.

ProMed on the death in Indonesia.

Indonesia now moves into the lead in bird flu cases, along with a 78.7% fatality rate.

India is destroying 100,000 doses of its first bird flu vaccine, since it is expiring.

Portsmouth, UK, has what it describes as a "huge" stockpile of flu materials.

Revere on a typical flu material--masks. The subject isn't as simple as it seems, and a recent study seems to indicate that they aren't as protective as people would wish--especially if not used correctly.

Bird flu continues to spread in Bangladesh.

Vietnam says its priority is preventing bird flu in humans.

India understands this presents a high risk area for their country, as well.

The US Marines have an expeditionary force ready to respond if flu hits in the Western Pacific.

Forbes reports that Tamiflu might have effected more than 100 teenagers in Japan.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

April 6 Flu Update

Two deaths to report today. The biggest news is Cambodia, where as 13 year old girl died--the first reported death there in a year. Also, a teenager died in Indonesia.

CIDRAP on Indonesia and Cambodia. Note that the girl in Cambodia presented with diarrhea.

ProMed on Cambodia and Indonesia. Note that all Cambodia's reported cases have been fatal over the last year.

OK. One of the big mysteries of the bird flu is why some people are infected and some are not. We talk about H2H, but we don't even have efficient B2H transmission right now. Here, a Chinese scientist says it may be a weakened immune system related to the "thymus" which is selecting who gets infected.

An anonymous vet from Myanmar has this to say about the latest outbreak. Note mod comment below:

This, apparently peripheral and minor news item, illuminates a significant phenomenon which is, unfortunately, not exceptional in developing countries and which contributes to the difficulties in controlling HPAI (highly pathogenic avian influenza). When adequate compensation for culled poultry is not secured, owners will refrain from reporting suspected cases, or alternatively get rid of their poultry as soon as possible for any payments obtainable on the market, with the resulting spread of the infection.

Kuwait is considering calling a special session of its legislature to help combat the bird flu outbreak. I find this interesting because, at least based on what we have seen, this is a much stronger reaction than we have seen from other countries with less reason. On the other hand, it is a small country.

Actual Kuwaitis are eating chicken with a shrug.

Bahrain is bird flu free.

A year later, the area where the first British case of bird flu (in birds) was found looks back. They think it might have helped tourism.

China says people should be...vigilant.

The University of Minnesota says it is also a Federal Center of Excellence for bird flu.

An Irish accountancy program for business continuity during a pandemic.

Friday, April 06, 2007

April 5 Flu Update

A 2-year old girl in Egypt has bird flu, but is said to be stable.

Perhaps our most significant story, via ProMed. Reports from Hong Kong report continued non-transparency from China.

Hong Kong sources confirm that diseased migratory birds died in large numbers in periods when China did not report any infections in the area. They fear that the virus is far more widespread than official Chinese data claims, given the lack of information forthcoming from Beijing regarding new cases of infection among poultry and humans. Hong Kong has halted imports of live poultry and poultry meat from 13provinces, where infection has been confirmed.

Saudi Arabia is working to prevent bird flu.

CIDRAP on the negatives in Kuwait, and a lab confirmation in Indonesia.

ProMed on the same two things. Note the moderator taking a victory lap for calling the negative tests.

Here's a guy in Dubai who got chicken pox and thought he had bird flu. No, this is not an episode of I Love Lucy.

Turkey says it is free of bird flu and is lifting quarantine measures.

The US Ambassador of Bird flu had this Q&A Coffee Break with a State Department reporter.

Sweden is working on the bird flu.

Canada is investing $5M in flu measures.

Editorial praises flu prep efforts in Utah.

Vietnam says it has enough Tamiflu. End of story.

Revere on the Kuwaiti, "now they are positive, now they are not."

I don't run many of these Tamiflu stories about the psychiatric effects, but here is a dramatic one: South Korea has banned teenagers from taking the drug.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

April 4 Flu Update

Well, shows what I know. The four Bangladeshi who were suspected of having bird flu are now confirmed. They were working to cull birds in Kuwait. This is pretty unusual and might well be significant.

(Update: I knew this sounded fishy. They are now negative.)

CIDRAP on the Indonesian and Kuwaiti situations.

ProMed also has Kuwait news, and an interesting tidbit that a woman in Indonesia might have been infected by her pet eagle.

Bangladesh is struggling, but bird flu continues to spread.

Migratory birds have been found to have bird flu in Hong Kong, and they wonder what is going on with China.

Okay. Thailand has possession of a rare vulture from Mongolia. It is a zoo loan. Bird flu is changing plans about when it can be sent back.

There's going to be a bird flu lecture at the University of Georgia.

The OIE has a new AI web portal.

Suffolk VA is working through the pandemic at a local school district.

Revere blogs on the antiviral resistance issue from previous posts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

April 3 Flu Update

Siblings in Egypt had the bird flu. The country has ruled out H2H transmission in the case. I don't have any info on the dates of onset that might have helped determine if it was H2H or a common source of infection, which is very plausible as well.

In Kuwait, four foreign workers have been hospitalized with bird flu (These scares rarely pan out to anything.)

Egypt is bragging about a 68% survival rate for bird flu.

ProMed is reporting that there is a new human case in Indonesia, and as is increasingly common, she is dead when it is first reported. This also contains news about Egypt, H2H and the survival rate. Note mod comment.

The evidence for person-to-person transmission between the 2 Egyptian siblings is not strong since it has been established now that both children were exposed to the same batch of sick or dying birds.

The success of the Egyptian physicians in treatment of the most recent 5 cases (all young children) is encouraging and possibly due to prompt initiation o Tamiflu therapy. The overall survival rate of 59.4 percent for bird flu patients in Egypt contrasts with the survival rate of 21.7 percent rate in Indonesia (if the 72nd case is confirmed.

This will cheer up the flu world. Indonesia is talking about doing autopsies of people who die of bird flu. CIDRAP reports. Also in this report, the H2H news from Egypt, and a little nugget that Indonesia and Egypt are considering partnering in the research of bird flu.

This is all over the web. There is a new study that identifies antiviral resistance in Influenza B. Granted, even if it is B, it still could do the same thing for A. Effect Measure reports.

Promed also says Saudi Arabia reported an avian outbreak.

CIDRAP has its take on the story from yesterday on social distancing and the 1918 pandemic.

The Governor of Utah received bird flu recommendations from a commission.

Bird flu prep is part of Public Health Week in the US Virgin Islands.

School officials in Hampton Roads, VA, have finished their bird flu plan.

Bangladesh is holding a three-day bird flu seminar.

"Double dose" Tamiflu trials are going ahead.

Declan Butler has updated his Google Earth tracking of avian flu.

The Public Relations Society of America is having a seminar on keeping confidence high during a flu pandemic.

There's bird flu in West Virginia, but it is H5N2.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

April 2 Flu Update

Helen Branswell weighs in with the story of the day. Did social distancing really work in the Spanish Flu? Not that it stopped the pandemic, but that it slowed it down and minimized the impact? It would appear based on this that it might have a "modest" effect.

The work supports the theory that early intervention with a series of social distancing measures should reduce the crush of cases when a pandemic virus first hits a community, allowing hospitals to cope better and buying time until a vaccine can be made and administered, said the research teams from the United States and Europe.

But both teams cautioned that these measures, called non-pharmaceutical interventions, can only really buy time. Evidence cited in both studies showed that when communities eased their restrictions in 1918, case counts quickly soared.

Washington Post on WHO FAO official, who says flu will be with us for the foreseeable future.

But Domenech said there had been fewer cases of bird flu so far this year than a year ago, indicating a reduction in overall viral load, and the presence of H5N1 in wild birds has been less than last year when the virus surged, particularly in Europe.

CIDRAP has this story as well. Note the FAO's "good news, bad news" viewpoint.

ProMed runs WHO's report on the recent cases in Egypt.

Reuters "Factbox" on human bird flu cases for the year.

CIDRAP on previously reported new cases in Egypt and Indonesia.

Kuwait is reporting no human bird flu cases, in spite of "rumors."

The turkey farm in Suffolk which had the bird flu outbreak will not be prosecuted.

Report on multi-nation flu exercise.

More flu in Myanmar.

We ran the story on the University of Rochester becoming a Center of Excellence for Influenza. Add the University of Minnesota...

as did UC Davis.

NPR's Marketplace does a story on how Indonesia "made sure" that vaccines would be available to poor countries.

Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam want to produce their own vaccines--also to be less dependent.

The USAID is spending $19M on commodities to help fight bird flu in poor nations.

A Canadian Occupational Health association has launched a website for pandemic planning.

Here is the website.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April 1 Flu Update--No foolin'

More on the latest cases from Egypt.

Kuwait continues to have bird flu cases in birds.

ProMed on Kuwait, and on Pakistan shutting down bird shops in one region.

ProMed on Egypt.

Thailand is disinfecting key areas.

Domestic birds in the Moscow region have been vaccinated.

A health official in Williamsport, PA, had this warning about pandemic flu.

Dr. Paul Ewald, who is director of a disease evolution program at the University of Louisville, is speaking in Edmonton. Here is what he had to say about bird flu.

A: I’ve been telling people for 10 years, ever since this H5N1 isolate was discovered, that everybody is overreacting. And I’ve been right for 10 years. I don’t know how long I’ll have to be right for. If I can be right for 20 years, maybe people will realize that I’ve got the right answer here and the other people who were pedalling hysteria have the wrong answers.

Q. You’ve described some feared diseases, including influenza, as "fizzlers." What do you mean by that?

A. Everybody, like Michael Osterholm (director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research), are saying this could be the end of civilization as we know it. I’m saying we’ll put a lot of attention focusing on H5N1, but it, like SARS, looks like it’s causing a problem and then it fizzles out. That’s been the history of H5N1. It’s causing a 50 per cent mortality in Indonesia, we get some spread and then it fizzles out. SARS got into Toronto, it started to spread and then it fizzled out. That’s what I said about SARS at the time.

March 31 Flu Update

Egypt has three new human cases in the same day. All are 7 years of age or under.

Bird flu has re-emerged in Vietnam in ducks.

ProMed on Vietnam and Bangladesh.

ProMed on human cases in China and Egypt.

Kuwait is culling 1.5M birds. Bird flu has devastated egg production.

From Indonesia (via an alert reader), this article on the seeming randomness of the flu disease. The lack of a pattern is confusing people there. But, do we think it really is random?

Russian war on bird flu.

A district in Bangladesh says it has no avian cases.

In Scotland, half of all casualty units (ERs) do not have Tamiflu.