Thursday, January 03, 2008

January 2 Flu Update

There was a bird flu death in Vietnam, but this one could be different...wild birds may have been involved.

Another outbreak in Bangladesh, near the Indian border.

IHT story on the outbreak in Bangladesh.

Pakistan lists more actions against bird flu.

ProMed on Egypt and Bangladesh.

Revere on flu in Egypt. Key point follows:

The other interpretation, of course, is more dire. This could be the start of a more widespread outbreak, involving many more people than previously and possibly signaling a change in the epidemiologic characteristics of the virus. The problem, of course, is that in the initial phases it is impossible to distinguish the two. The best we can do is wait to see how events unfold and that is what we will do in this case. At this point there is no reason to think this is unusual. Probably most of the suspect cases will turn out negative. The reason to think that is because that is the way it has turned out in the past. It's not forced on us by logic or biology. But if I were a wagering man . . .

The United Arab Emirates say they are ready for bird flu if it lands there.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Extremely interesting lengthy discourse by commenters imbedded in your EM Revere article, in fact one of the longest I have seen debating the various scenarios surfacing in Egypt at the current time. The bottom like is simply that time will tell: there well could be a slight epidemiological change occurring in the virus, but there is no scientific evidence of this (yet), and the alternate case which is buttressed by better surveillance and monitoring, seasonal influenza interminglement and the “winter cycle more-of-the-same” seems the stronger one.

For those getting hyped up over the Egypt or Pakistan situation, I believe the statistics so far have to be viewed in perspective: normal seasonal influenza deaths and mortalities caused by secondary complications, number in the millions, world wide. The average number of seasonal influenza related deaths in the US alone is 36,000. The cases of H5N1 deaths in Egypt or elsewhere by comparison are miniscule, and would have to increase exponentially at least by a factor of four or five over what they are now, before the WHO, the CDC or HHS or anyone else is going to get excited. I can’t get my hackles up over four unfortunate deaths, regardless of the cause, however, I will get really puckered up if the number were, say, 4,000, or 40,000. Four hundred thousand geographically diverse deaths would certainly signal the tip of a pandemic to any high school science teacher or skeptic.

I point to these simple facts because, at least for now as Revere says, what is happening in Egypt does appears in its early stages to be a repetition of the same pattern as the prior two years. No dramatic increase in deaths or infections is evident (yet).

Another observation that I would like to make is about Bangladesh and Vietnam: both of these nations appear to me now to have “out of control”, endemic, H5N1 virus situations prevailing in their countries. They have spent an enormous amount of effort and resources over the last several years, and the bird flu still appears to be leap-frogging unabated across their countries. This could be a premature statement, but it sure seems like we are going to have two more Indonesia’s on our hands shortly.

Finally, about the unfortunate four year old little boy in Vietnam who died from bird flu after becoming infected from hunted wild birds…just think how many pheasant, dove, turkey, goose and duck hunters there are in the US and Canada. The chances of one of them acquiring this ill-fated illness I would speculate is quite high in the future.

Just my opinion on the subject – and no I do not hunt anything other than store bargains these days – I gave hunting up a long time ago, it’s just not my cup of tea. Actually, I’ve always been more fearful of some other hunter mistaking me for a wild animal and popping me accidentally.



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