Thursday, May 31, 2007

May 31 Flu Update

Bird flu spreads in Vietnam, as farmers may be less vigilant against the virus.

A report says that the virus has changed in China and is now resisting the avian viruses in use there.

Reuters factbox on human bird flu cases.

ProMed on yesterday's fatality in Indonesia.

The US has finalized plans announced in March that will speed vaccine development.

Revere on why it is hard to prepare for pandemic flu. Notes avoided crises like Y2K--or, as I note, swine flu

Wisconsin public health official recognizes when you prepare for one crisis, you prepare for many.

Wales update--cases continue to emerge, including healthcare worker and hospital patient.

Antigua is developing a flu plan.

A couple North Carolina counties are also working on pandemic plans.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May 30 Flu Update

Indonesia reports its second bird flu death in less than two weeks.

The news from Vietnam is not good. Bird flu threatens to rage out of control in birds, though the most recent human case is improving. Note WHO is not alarmed.

ProMed on the spread of flu in Vietnam.

WHO on the sick soldier in China--note no known contact with sick poultry.

Contrary to the stories that say flu is subsiding, this from Boston Globe reminds everyone the flu marches on and is a persistent foe.

"We're clearly getting a sense that there's fatigue after several years of reporting this disease," said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.

"I'm very concerned."

Indonesia says Baxter is taking its new vaccine right to the source of the problem...Indonesia.

Baxter denies.

More on a mild flu pandemic (Wales).

Canary in the mine--sick healthcare worker in Wales.

A second farm in Wales is cleared of bird flu.

A starling in Holland is being tested for bird flu.

More on NZ flu exercises--things are said to have gone well.

Azerbaijan is starting up its bird flu surveillance this Fall.

Study says more than 3 million businesses in UK are at risk for "melt down" if a pandemic strikes.

Maybe they should sign up here! CIDRAP is holding a pandemic planning workshop for business.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May 29 Flu Update

A soldier in China has H5N1.

The USA Today joins the chorus....don't forget H7 when you watch for a pandemic. (Check the comments from yesterday from a good comment from Wulfgang.)

CIDRAP weighs in as well. Human to human is suspected.

ProMed has this story. Note that their expert says human-human not happening.

Larger news thread on Welsh bird flu.

A Chinese woman was released from the hospital after three months of bird flu treatment. China says she was treated with serum from a survivor.

CIDRAP also reports on the two news stories from China.

Another duck farms was hit in Vietnam, with more than 2,000 birds dead.

A dead bird in Hong Kong was tested for bird flu.

China donated about $1M to Indonesia to help with bird flu fight.

A new spectrometer will help hospital diagnose 92 types of flu.

Monday, May 28, 2007

May 28 Flu Update

During the Spanish flu epidemic, some doctors transfused blood from survivors to new patients, and there is evidence this might have cut the death rate in half. Question is, could something similar make a difference in this pandemic? London Times reports.

Helen Branswell on Virus Sharing as intellectual property. A typically great take from her. Note the ominous overtone from this paragraph.

"The changes that are proposed for the WHO collaborating system and the system that served to underpin the development of (influenza) vaccines worldwide for the last 50 years could collapse," warns one influenza community insider who doesn't want to be named.

If you read the first paragraph of this Effect Measure post, you could conclude that Revere was the source for Branswell. Nonetheless, he has the same ideas...

The idea that Indonesia has a property right to a virus is ridiculous and problematic on its face and serious in its consequences. Just like a lot of intellectual property law, designed by and for the convenience and profit of the property "owners." Too many scientists and their institutions have become complicit in this system, as they meekly allowed licensing or patenting discoveries they made for the sheer joy of discovery or the desire to make the world better. Now flu scientists are finding it is coming back to bite them.

The flu spreads in Vietnam.

Transcript of Radio Australia program of bird flu.

Thailand also has a bird flu plan it is putting into place.

ProMed on Thailand and Vietnam.

GPS devices are being implanted into birds to help track migration routes.

A bird flu summit will be held in Paris starting this week.

Taiwan is starting new laws to prevent the bird flu.

ProMed also has news on some research being done on migratory birds.

I have a dilemma on this blog from time to time. In general, I started it to cover H5N1. And we don't do much with other strains that come up. But Revere has an interesting post--what if this IS the pandemic strain?

So, here's a link to the latest news from Wales--there are human cases.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

May 24 Flu Update--hiatus coming

The blog will take a hiatus for the Memorial Day holiday.
We will update again May 28.

ProMed with the official report from Indonesia of a recent death (seen here earlier). Note reported exposure to dead chickens.

The patient in Vietnam is said to be recovering.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of two more avian outbreaks in Vietnam.

Farmers in Nigeria are apparently risking more serious health problems by using a banned avian vaccine.

CIDRAP has news on a couple things. First, there is an H7N2 outbreak in Wales. And, OIE does support poultry vaccination, despite controversy. And they cover some outbreaks we have already.

Revere looks at the study of healthcare workers we blogged a couple of days ago. He is encouraging concrete steps to protect workers over "risk education."

The US Treasury has announced a test of the financial system to be able to withstand a pandemic.

MPs in Ghana are asking for a bird flu update

Excellent article on the state of play in the vaccine game. Note GSK's proprietary antigen-sparing formula.

Australian expert says the country is safe for now, but the future is still unclear for H5N1. It is kind of amazing, as close as they are, that there hasn't even been an avian outbreak.

Edinburgh University (UK) is establishing a centre of excellence to lead the fight against bird flu.

Finally, two things. First, in response to yesterday's comments, I am going to put a link to my picture. My space on the HHS blog should be coming next....

And second, I got my notice to be in the Iowa Futures Market for Avian Flu.....We'll track everything here on the CIP?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

May 23 Flu Update

CIDRAP reports. Human cases are back. Indonesia has a dead 5-year old girl confirmed of H5N1. Meanwhile, Vietnam has a 30-year old who is a suspected case--and being treated.

ProMed has the news on these two countries.

CIDRAP has more on bird outbreaks from various countries, as previously reported.

ProMed also has bird outbreaks from around the world. Note that Vietnam has six outbreaks since the weekend.

Ghana has a second outbreak.

There's also an outbreak in Northern Nigeria.

Two employees of poultry farms in Pakistan were tested for bird flu and were negative.

CIDRAP reports on the flu virus sharing agreement passed by WHO.

The French cite improving response to veterinary issues like bird flu and mad cow.

India and UAE are discussing the bird flu implications.

An Ontario hospital is preparing for the bird flu.

Revere blogs on HHS' "desperate" measure of listening to the public.

Speaking of the HHS blog, today the founder of Ebay has some things to say on preparing for a pandemic. Note the comments, where they suggest harnessing the power of Ebay to get the word out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

May 22 Flu Update

Bird flu found in domestic poultry in Pakistan, 10,000 birds reported culled.

Third bird flu outbreak in Central Vietnam.

After arduous negotiations, WHO has a draft virus sharing agreement.

Scientific American has results of an important study. One of the sleeping giants of a pandemic is (in my opinion) absenteeism among healthcare workers. That includes healthcare workers who would be sick even without a pandemic, those who have pandemic flu, those with family members with pandemic flu, and those who don't show up out of fear. These absenteeisms will hamper the ability of the healthcare system to deal with a patient surge.

Note this:

About 50 percent of the hospital workers said "yes" they would report to work, while 42 percent said "maybe" and 8 percent said "no, even if I would lose my job."

Doctors (73 percent) were more likely than nurses (44 percent) or other hospital personnel (33 percent) to indicate that they would report to work in the event of bird flu pandemic.

China has a food problem--related to, but not limited to, bird flu. Specifically, there are emerging consumer confidence issues on food produced in China, and bird flu outbreaks do not help the situation. My guess is this will drive them further underground, though it presents a wonderful opportunity to gain confidence through transparency.

HHS has a flu blog for five weeks--and it features some members of the real flu blogosphere. I really didn't think HHS had this in them, but it is surprisingly progresive. Good on ya!(CIDRAP reports)

Here's the link to the blog itself. Here's what Secretary Leavitt said in his first post... (and hey, no one asked me to participate, but I'm being a grown up about it).

In order to extend the value of this one-day conference, the Department of Health and Human Services is also hosting this blog summit as part of an ongoing effort by the Department to help Americans become more prepared. While the comments made on this blog may not always represent the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, we think there is value is having an open dialogue about this very important issue.

Revere (I wonder if he is going to be on the HHS blog?) notes that yesterday's news that OIE seems flu on the wane is at odds with other evidence--and that, to his view, things seem to be pretty much the same.

ProMed reports on OIE news from Vietnam and Bangladesh.

San Diego is doing pandemic awareness training.

The Turkey industry--wisely--is preparing for potential problems related to bird flu, after seeing what happened in Suffolk.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 21 Flu Update

The OIE director says 2007 data indicates bird flu may be reaching the end of a cycle, and that countries have shown they can overcome avian outbreaks.

“In the first half of 2007, countries reported fewer deaths of wild and migratory birds, which could indicate the disease is coming closer to the end of a cycle. Reversely poultry flocks still continue to be infected in some countries and that shows the international community needs to keep up its high level of prevention and control measures of the disease in animals,” commented Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the OIE.

CIDRAP had this story as well. Here is what Dr. Osterholm said...

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of the CIDRAP News, said the presence of disease cycles in birds should not be interpreted to mean H5N1 does or doesn't still pose a risk. "Like any other disease, there are ebbs and flows," he said, adding that as birds which build up immunity to the virus die off, the new populations that replace them are vulnerable to avian flu, which then can lead to a surge in wild bird cases.

Vietnam has had 1,900 ducks die in the last week from avian flu.

There's a reported avian outbreak in a new area of Ghana.

CIDRAP on recently reported outbreaks in several countries.

India remains on high alert, surrounded by flu outbreaks.

Australian article on role a vaccine would play in preventing a pandemic.

The UN urges Bangladesh to move on bird flu.

CIDRAP reports on OSHA guidance to protect healthcare workers. Note this:

Guidance on personal protective equipment is consistent with other OSHA and US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advisories, Wright said. Though the HHS pandemic influenza plan does not recommend goggles and face shields for routine care of patients with pandemic influenza, OSHA advises that workers who are within 3 feet of a coughing patient should wear those items.

Here's a link to the actual document.

Revere blogs a new journal article which tries to figure out why there is a flu it the host, the virus? What? (Hint: the article says it is complicated with multiple factors). Revere notes if we really did find out the answer, it might save a lot of lives.

ProMed on the story we ran on Ghana having no novel strain of flu.

Bird flu readiness is tested in New Zealand.

An avian vaccine in Australia is getting top results.

A children's story is being used to teach about the bird flu.

May 20 Flu Update

More from China--more than 50,000 birds scheduled to be culled.

I knew this wasn't going to pass without comment...Indonesia's Health Minister has been appointed to the WHO Board...Revere represents public opinion on the craziness of this.

Thailand is going to assist Cambodia in the bird flu fight.

A flu workshop is scheduled for York, PA.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

May 19 Flu Update

A day after WHO DG Margaret Chan called for China to be more open, they announce an avian outbreak. It is in Hunan, and 11,000 birds are reported dead.

Despite its grand announcement, it turns out Indonesia shared only three virus samples with WHO.

Indonesia continues to attempt to rally support for its vaccine plan.

A graduate of Southern Illinois College of Medicine returns home with the news...there will be a pandemic.

ProMed with a couple of articles on migratory birds, including one in Ghana where they insist migratory birds played a role.

ProMed also points us to a CIDRAP fact file with a first rate flu briefing.

From Malaysia, how to steer clear of the flu.

Friday, May 18, 2007

May 18 Flu Update

OIE says the virus in Ghana is not new to Africa.

A CDC expert spoke to a small college in Michigan.'

The US has donated bird flu kits to Mozambique.

EU poultry farmers have six weeks to prepare for the bird flu protection rules.

The media in Bangladesh is reminded it can play a role in the bird flu.

You saw the tough talk from Margaret Chan in yesterday's update. Well, Revere says she was China's candidate at WHO--she should get them to be more open, or she will be a failure.

Effect Measure again---you can register to own backyard chickens in Madison, WI. And if the flu comes, bye bye birdie.

May 17 Flu Update

Margaret Chan gives an emotional appeal on virus sharing.

"If you do not share the virus with us, I want to be absolutely honest with you, I will fail you," Dr. Margaret Chan said in a speech to WHO's annual meeting of 193 member states in Geneva.

"I will fail you because you are tying my hands, you are muffling my ears, you are blinding my eyes."

An African has joined the Global Virus Sharing initiative through WHO.

The US has donated some bird flu equipment to Cambodia.

A speaker in St. Louis says that the nation is doing little to prepare for bird flu.

Wry comment and photo from Revere echoes this point.

But look! They are preparing in Laramie.

ProMed has some stories on the resumption of the Indonesian sample sharing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

May 16 Flu Update

CIDRAP reports. Now that the Indonesians have resumed sending samples, WHO has cleared out a backlog of 15 cases that had not been included in official counts. 13 were fatal. (These are all 2007 cases).

Official known H5N1 death toll is 185.

CIDRAP on this case, as well.

Effect Measure on the Indonesian situation. Says by holding virus back, they make it likely no one gets a vaccine--them included.
Effect Measure also looks at the real vaccine gap--in true Revere fashion, concluded something that large is beyond math.

Helen Branswell writes that Canada is stockpiling bird flu vaccine--for birds. Like most measures, it appears to be a holding measure to buy time.

Local governments are urged to work hard on bird flu in Vietnam.

Chan pledges again that WHO will get vaccine to poor countries.

64 farms are screened in Ghana.

Black market anti-virals seized in Burma.

They are training for a pandemic in Rock County, WI.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May 15 Flu Update

Indonesia says it has resumed sending samples to WHO. Helen Branswell on the case, noting that it isn't clear if this is a new practice or merely a gesture, and whether the standoff is resolved.

Poor Countries are demanding access to vaccine at the same time.

Revere weighs in on this, too. He has little patience for the general idea of Indonesia hogging virus.

In Canada, healthcare workers are demanding the same financial protections as fire and police officers...or there might be high absenteeism.

"Protection of health-care workers in the event of a pandemic is not limited to properly-fitted masks and gowns," said Dr. Charles Shaver, president of medical staff at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. "It has to include a firm guarantee of financial protection."

Local story in New Zealand on how local officials were involved in the national pandemic exercise.

Vietnam is reprocessing Tamiflu that is expiring...

Vietnam is extracting Oseltamivir phosphate, active agent of Tamiflu, to reprocess the bird flu medicine, according to local newspaper Youth on Tuesday.

Vietnam is having problems with an Italian avian vaccine as well.

The CDC has partnered with another organization on a pandemic training course that is online.

Dr. Chan made her opening address to the World Health Assembly.

Dawson County, GA, is holding a flu workshop for business.

Nigerian farmers are reportedly close (finally) to getting paid for their lost birds.

A Canadian Red Cross official is taking an International position in pandemic flu.

An International program has been launched to help the world's poorest farmers.

Monday, May 14, 2007

May 14th Flu Update

CIDRAP on the death in Indonesia, and more culling in Bangladesh---and news from other countries.

More on those birds in India testing negative.

Company in Ghana says it is not responsible for bird flu there.

CIDRAP reports on the World Health Assembly, and how virus sharing is high on the agenda.

In New Zealand, Tamiflu is now over the counter.

Effect Measure notes that there are some jobs which might be difficult to fill during a pandemic.

Taiwan kept out of WHO....says ouster will hurt battle against bird flu.

A Swiss official at the World Health Assembly says that flu remains the world's top health threat.

The US says it is promoting collaboration at the World Health Assembly.

The University of Iowa plans for a pandemic....

meanwhile, San Diego State University is helping California schools plan for a pandemic.

May 13--Mother's Day Flu Update

There's a bird flu death in Indonesia--all but lab confirmed. She was 26, 4 months pregnant.

ProMed has this story as well.

The World Health Assembly is coming up. Helen Branswell is here with her usual indispensable analysis. Avian flu will be the big topic--and here is the problem. This throws cold water on the idea of a pre-pandemic vaccine.

Simply put, scientists can't be certain how much vaccine is needed to protect people against novel influenza viruses such as H5N1 avian flu, because they don't know what the immune system of a person protected against a new flu strain would look like.

Sure, they can observe whether immunization with H5N1 vaccine produces certain antibodies and to what levels the antibodies rise, but they have no way of gauging how much protection those antibodies will provide if the person is exposed to the virus.

"We can't get the answer to that until the pandemic comes. There's just no way," admits Dr. Robert Webster, the renown flu researcher from St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Of course, virus sharing is also on the agenda at the Assembly.

Bangladesh still struggles with bird flu.

ProMed on Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Surveillance is being stepped up in Volta.

African publication says bird flu deadlier than HIV.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

May 12 Flu Update

The battle with bird continues to go poorly in Bangladesh.

There's a second outbreak in Central Vietnam, where an outbreak was reported last week.

Hungary has now conceded that it might have been the source of the sick turkey that showed up in Britain.

A lab reports that the 2,500 dead poultry in India were New Castle disease, the panic is still having its effect.

May 11 Flu Update

10,000 birds were culled in Bangladesh as the flu spread.

Vietnam has a "problematic" batch of avian vaccine, which means it can't be used...which puts provinces out hard earned cash.

World Migratory Bird Day is launched. Hint: you don't get the day off work.

Research shows that seven new species of wild birds have been identified as H5N1 carriers.

ProMed on this study. Notes that while it may not be much value in studying H5N1, they provide invaluable data on the life of flu viruses in wild birds.

CIDRAP has an update for its business audience on the antivirals and bird flu. This is a great summary of the state of play. Note this for the good---and the bad--of Tamiflu.

"The numbers are so small that it's hard to know whether Tamiflu is efficacious at mitigating disease, but it's all we have, so it's worth trying because it has very limited toxicity [poisonous effects]," says Stephanie Black, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the section of infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Studies in mice have demonstrated a protective and therapeutic benefit of Tamiflu against the 2004 Vietnam strain of H5N1. However, this efficacy does not guarantee the same result in humans or with a pandemic strain.

A 2007 study of the effectiveness of Tamiflu in improving the survival rate of ferrets exposed to the H5N1 virus found that giving the drug within 4 hours of exposure (ie, before illness) resulted in 100% survival. When the treatment was delayed 24 hours after exposure, a higher dose was needed to achieve the same result. (H5N1 follows a similar course in ferrets and humans.)

CIDRAP notes that there is little resistance to Tamiflu, as noted by WHO. Of course, a Tamiflu resistant H5N1 is a nightmare of the first order.

CIDRAP also notes that Edmonton has added ginseng to its bird flu stockpile. (I'll stand in line longer for the Tamiflu.)

Brunei says it is stepping up its bird flu measures.

You saw where the US military released its bird flu planning doc this week. Given the performance of the military in Iraq, let's just say Revere is skeptical.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

May 10 Flu Update

Time writes on the Indonesian standoff. Remember, an apparent deal had been struck, and then it was never followed up on. Here, we note some hurt feelings.

Now Indonesia Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari tells TIME that there's been a lack of "goodwill" from the WHO, and that Indonesia won't share a single virus with the international community until it receives a "green light" from the WHO that Jakarta would retain commercial control of its samples. "We feel let down by the WHO," she said in an interview last Friday. "We only demand fairness."

Revere evaluates everyone's position in this stand off.

The question to WHO was this: should a vaccine be administered before a pandemic starts? The answer is "equivocal." CIDRAP reports.

Article in India wonders (and wonders) if the scare over 2,000+ dead birds is worth it.

Sanovac has approval from the Chinese government to go to Phase II of vaccine testing.

A mere example of what we can expect during a pandemic...Thailand was returning a rare vulture to Mongolia. But, two countries would not let the bird through, on fears of bird flu.

Flu might actually have raised poultry prices in Indonesia by keeping supply down.

The European Commission is holding seminars on diagnosing bird flu.

New Zealand held a pandemic exercise on border control. Check out the photo if you want to feel confident...

Officials in California are preparing for a pandemic which could make more than 8 million people sick there. Here is a sage comment:

To Kuepper, even the ablest and quickest county response to a rampaging virus is only a holding action, something to buy time in hopes that researchers can quickly detect the virus and concoct a vaccine.

“Always wash your hands,” he concluded. “And pray for an effective vaccine.”

California writer reminds readers they should pay attention when there is an outbreak elsewhere in the world.

May 9 Flu Update

The woman who died in Indonesia lived in a part of the country with no previously reported outbreaks. Investigators are on the ground trying to determine what happened.

US and Singapore aid Indonesia in bird flu fight.

The US Department of Defense has released its plan for how to fight a pandemic. I haven't had a chance to review yet, but here is a link to their press release...

...and the document.

Here's a story from military press on the DOD plan.

One of the main pillars of the national plan to confront a pandemic outbreak of influenza is containment, Mr. Chavez said. Containment of an outbreak of potentially deadly avian flu or other illnesses is predicated on early detection and action, he emphasized.

"If it starts with the avian vector, which is the poultry right now, we can identify the farms that are affected (and) cull the birds before they have the chance to infect other birds and animals," Mr. Chavez said.

CIDRAP reports that the EU has approved a "mock up" vaccine for a pandemic, meaning that the building blocks are approved, and once WHO declares a pandemic, the final step of matching the vaccine to the virus would be completed.

According to this article from Taiwan, WHO needs permission from China to involve Taiwan in pandemic planning.

CIDRAP reports that the FDA has listed two respirators that could offer disease protection during a pandemic.

The Health Service in New Zealand is planning a pandemic test.

The Health Laboratory at the University of Iowa has a board game to help promote pandemic awareness. (I have often thought this would make a great computer simulation game).

We've all seen the models of how a pandemic would hit any given community. There have been dozens. Revere talks about the art of responsible modeling.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

May 8 Flu Update

Here we go again. Indonesia says it is optimistic it can reach a new agreement with WHO on sharing samples.

Effect Measure weighs in on Indonesia, noting that they couldn't find even a remote link between yesterday's death and sick poultry, yet they still don't feel the need to cooperate with the rest of the world.

Anthony Fauci of NIH reminds people that another flu virus could become a pandemic--H5N1 is only the most likely candidate.

Official in Ghana refutes claim that bird flu there is hoax, insists country has equipment to diagnose disease.

APEC officials meeting in Vietnam to review bird flu plans.

While there, Vietnam is praised for bird flu actions.

More on bird flu fears in India, near the Bangladesh border.

ProMed has this as well.

Fiji farmers are urged to keep their eye out for the flu.

Manitoba has extended its program to test backyard flocks for free.

The World Bank sent $3M to Uzbekistan for its flu fight.

South African article notes that Tamiflu is available for only 5% of the population and havoc could ensure in a pandemic.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon says it is ready.

CIDRAP on a public health survey of how prepared people are for a health emergency. Given that many of these people are exaggerating or lying, it doesn't look good, though it is entirely unsurprising.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 7 Flu Update

A woman died in Indonesia a few days ago of bird flu. She is the 75th death there. This is the first death anywhere in the world in weeks.

CIDRAP also on the Indonesian death, and a side note that the nation has yet to share any flu samples with WHO.

ProMed also has this story. Note that Indonesian deaths are not included in WHO death toll, beginning with the date that the nation quit sending samples to WHO. I think ProMed and others will come up with a backup official count, but in meantime, there is no official count.

Bird flu outbreak in Central Vietnam, despite hot weather. Reported yesterday.

Bird flu scare in India, where thousands of birds died and the farmer abandoned the scene. Tests are being conducted.

Poultry farmers in Ghana doubt that bird flu is really in that country.

Since the risk of bird flu is "negligible" France has backed off its bird flu precautions.

Australian Op-ed piece says global warming is the catastrophe de jour, and is driving the pandemic from the media.

Another good article from Malaysia on the importance of quick reactions and communication in a pandemic.

When these diseases first emerged, most governments were clueless and in a state of denial. They brushed them aside as trivial. Nonetheless, the matter was further compounded by the political ego of the ruling elites, lack of transparency and the inherent fear that media hype can cause unnecessary panic or pandemonium. Therefore communication regarding the diseases then was at best minimal.

Kentucky has updated its pandemic plan. It is six times longer than the plan from 2004.

"Our updated plan outlines the important measures to take by state and local governments, health-care providers, schools, businesses and, most importantly, individual citizens," said Dr. William Hacker, commissioner for public health.

University study says voluntary vaccination won't be enough during a pandemic.

CIDRAP on US report that it will do less testing of wild birds.

Meanwhile, Congressional Quarterly does an article on the uses of wild bird surveillance, hauling out metaphors like "smoke alarm" and "canary in the mine."

Effect Measure on one of Revere's favorite topics--headlines. Here, he examines headlines taken from the same story on CDC guidelines for respirators.

The Harvard Business Review did an excellent podcast on the topic of pandemic prep at businesses. Well worth a listen. Check out what the hated Wal-Mart corporation is doing...they are more efficient than the Federal Government, as they were during Katrina.

Clarion County, PA, is starting its pandemic planning from the right position...

"You can't expect the state and federal government is going to be here early on," he said. "We'll be on our own for a period of time."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

May 6 Flu Update

Bird flu has been found on a farm in Central Vietnam. First outbreak in a month.

ProMed on the Vietnamese outbreak and more culling in Bangladesh.

Flu Planning is being done in McConnellsberg, PA.

Scienceline reviews the modern techniques being used to fight bird flu.

Workshop in Qatar to "quell" rumors about bird flu.

Nigeria sets compensation for poultry farmers.

May 5 Flu Update

Crazy talk from India. No chance of bird flu hitting there, according to vet. Check out this quote.

Dr Shekhar Srivastava, a veterinary expert with the UP animal husbandry department, said that there was no sign of virus mutating according to Indian conditions.
Experts in Pakistan say bird flu cannot survive over 70C, ergo, not in cooked food.

No bird flu in Azerbaijan samples.

A common theme....bird flu found in Ghana, and farmers are charging ahead.

Kirsty Duncan--she of the self-aggrandizing search for flu in the permafrost--says Canada is behind the US in bird flu prep.

NZ is also preparing for a pandemic.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

May 4 Flu Update

The wires are buzzing as the Ghana news begins to spread. I've run plenty of that. Here's a local perspective for Ghanas--message: don't panic.

Ghana has also stopped exports of poultry and says it is going farm to farm looking for the disease.

ProMed notes that with flu in countries like Ghana, smuggling of exotic birds into rich markets could spread the bird flu.

Bird flu has been found on even more farms in Bangladesh.

The US is cutting back on wild bird surveillance this year. Supposedly, the effort will be more focused.

Vietnam has established stronger border controls to watch for smuggled poultry.

Novavax stocks are way up on news that their vaccine worked in ferrets.

Kodiak, AK, has a bird flu planning meeting.

Similarly, bird flu prep is going on in Maine as well.'

Australia donates funds to Cambodia for bird flu communications.

The Dallas Morning News says that the Texas legislature is acting prudently on Tamiflu purchases.

Here's a new flu blog I have become aware of, published in Tehran. There is also a Persian version.

Friday, May 04, 2007

May 3 Flu Update

The CDC has released its guidance on respirator usage. Says they may help in crowds, but staying away would be better. Note, however, the recommendation for people giving personal care. (via CIDRAP).

Furthermore, people who care for a pandemic flu patient at home or have other close contact with sick people in a pandemic should consider wearing an N-95 respirator, a more elaborate type of mask designed to stop virus-sized particles, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised.

Effect Measure is all over the "it might not help but what could it hurt" theme in CDC's guidelines.

Finally, Helen Branswell has her usual excellent story on the topic. In all fairness, given what is below, it would be tough for CDC to give a lot more definition.

The scientific community is still divided on how flu spreads - in large droplets that would be caught in a simple surgical mask or smaller particles that would require an industrial mask known as a respirator.

ProMed on culling in Bangladesh.

Margaret Chan of WHO has hailed Egyptian efforts in fighting bird flu.

CNN reports on the outbreak in Ghana, and its immediate aftermath.

ProMed has Ghana's OIE report.

The US donated bird flu protective gear to Pakistan.

Georgia (the former Soviet Republic) is running a bird flu program in the schools.

The World Bank is doing work in Uzbekistan to help fight bird flu.

More on Egypt's fight against bird flu.

Kentucky announced its pandemic plan.

Unlike Florida, North Carolina is budgeting funds to buy Tamiflu.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

May 2 Bird Flu Update

Bird flu is confirmed in Ghana, the 9th African nation. It is a bird outbreak. CIDRAP reports.

Culls continue in Bangladesh as bird flu spreads.

Purdue has licensed an avian vaccine for H5N1.

Japanese researchers are testing a human vaccine on monkeys. It uses a combination of attenuated viruses rather than a single strain.

GAO report out, cited on CIDRAP. Financial system is not ready for a pandemic. They seem serious (see below). Also, the report cites concerns about telecommuting, the answer for how the nation will continue to be productive in a pandemic. However, there are concerns over the telecommunication system.

"If we find organizations' efforts lagging, we will consider taking additional actions, including those you recommend," the letter states.

Here's a direct link to the report.

Columnist criticizes Florida for not participating in Tamiflu purchases.

Residents in a community in Azerbaijan hit hard by bird flu deaths a while back is coming together to fight the disease.

As remote as they are, Pacific Island Countries know they were hit in 1918 and would be hit again with H5N1. Here is a summary of their plans.

Terra Haute (IN) officials have partnered with the state to produce a bird flu video.

A flu exercise will be held tomorrow in San Mateo, CA.

Revere looks at Indonesia and China's promises on sharing samples--and wonders how long the world will tolerate irresponsible behavior.

Pharma company touts drug's "synergistic" effects.

GlaxoSmithKline says that the company has a common cause with WHO--stamping out a pandemic.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May 1 May Day Flu Update

Today's lead story. St. Jude's Children Hospital announces research that says peramivir protects mice from H5N1. Drug is a neuriminidase inhibitor. Implications are clear...another drug to stockpile, but another arrow in the quiver, too. Note strong results from a single dose.

"We were surprised that we could also see a 40 percent survival rate among mice after just a single dose of peramivir," said Elena A. Govorkova, Ph.D., a scientific manager in the Infectious Diseases department at St. Jude. Govorkova is the paper's senior author.

Thailand prepares to take care of itself.

Thailand, a middle-income developing country, is doing what it can to protect itself by setting up a flu-vaccine production plant at a cost of Bt1.4 billion with additional funding of US$2 million (Bt69.5 million) provided by the WHO. A total output of 2 million doses of flu vaccine per year is expected once the plant reaches its full production capacity. A stockpile of 200,000 doses of tamiflu is also being maintained to treat people afflicted by bird flu.

Ghana may be the ninth African nature with an avian outbreak.

Cross River, Nigeria, prepares to prevent bird flu.

Uganda trains journalists in the bird flu to help public education.

The Department of Animal Husbandry in Kashmir is not letting its guard down against bird flu.

Revere blogs about another Google Earth bird flu mashup.