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.
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.
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.