January 11 Flu UpdateCIDRAP covers the firestorm over reported comments from OIE on whether pandemic risk was "overblown." Two notes--first, media reports differ on what he said. Second, regardless, here's what Dr. David Fedson says:
"The statement [suggesting the risk of a pandemic is minimal] ignores history," said Fedson, who also is on the IDSA's Pandemic Influenza Task Force. "The history is a pandemic coming out of nowhere in 1918 and causing great global disruption. . . . A statement like this, if people pay attention, has the practical effect of telling people they don't need to worry, they don't need to be prepared."
Fedson said infectious diseases have caused major die-offs in several mammalian species in recent years, and humans are subject to the same threats. For example, about a third of the lions on Africa's Serengeti Plain died of distemper virus in the early 1990s, and more than 50% of gorillas and chimpanzees have died of Ebola virus infection in this decade, he said.
"Given what we know of the capability of flu viruses in general and this virus in particular, we have to take it seriously and . . . prepare for a pandemic that could cause a very high mortality," Fedson said. "We have to recognize that we're as vulnerable as the gorillas and chimps."
CIDRAP on the recently reported illness in Indonesia.
A Guam official was training for a pandemic in Hawaii.
Welsh officials say they are workin' the plan.
British officials say that the sick swans flew in from Europe during a December cold snap.
There's more outbreak news from Vietnam.
This gives you an idea of the cultural battle to be fought with bird flu. Egyptians believe that it was god, not birds that killed people there. Mix in anti-government feelings, and you have trouble getting compliance.
The Inspector General from the Department of Energy casts pandemic warning.
Poultry farmers in Ireland are warned to be careful for bird flu.
France elevates its flu threat level to moderate.