Sunday, January 27, 2008

January 26 Flu Update

There are no fresh bird flu reports in Eastern India.

In Western India, however, the spread continues, and rains are making culling more difficult.

A bird society in India says migratory birds not responsible.

Free Onions are being used to entice poultry buyers in Western India.

Another swan has tested positive in India.

ProMed reports on India and Thailand, with a close look at the contents of some OIE reports.

There's isn't as much media in Bangladesh, so it doesn't have the volume that the Indian situation does, but things are bad there, too.

ProMed has wild birds blamed for outbreak in Turkey.

A bird flu quarantine was lifted in China.

Hawaiian officials says the would do "OK" in a pandemic, but that isn't good enough.

Interesting: bird flu experts are now calling for the stockpiling of adjuvants.

"There's a lot of discussion to vaccinate people against H5N1 with adjuvanted vaccines. We might do that, but it's very expensive and it might well be that the pandemic outbreak may not be caused by H5N1 but by H7, H9 or H2" viruses, he said.


At 5:58 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I think the most significant article on your list today is your last one, “Experts urge stockpiling of flu vaccine additives. I think it is vitally important for smart nations to begin taking this approach in order to hedge their bets. It’s about the closest thing to life term life insurance I can think of. As the article points out, we need to stockpile adjuvants separately from the H1, H2, H5, H7, and H9 antigens, because there are literally dozens of bird flu virus combinations which could occur to spark a pandemic – it is unpredictable at this time which strain would prevail, even though H5N1 appears to be the fleet leader. At this time, cross-strain vaccine protection is what we really need, to buy us some protection, until a strain specific vaccine can be developed through reverse genetic engineering methods (this would be crucial at the start of a fast spreading pandemic). The adjuvant boosters of course could then be used to extend the amount of critical specific pandemic antigen developed and inoculate large targeted numbers of our population.

Ask your self why this is important. The answer lies in what is actually transpiring with the H5N1 virus: it seems to be going through a biological evolutionary process called adaptive radiation. It is far and away the greatest pandemic concern of all the influenza strains, because of its rapid lethal spread in poultry flocks (think India and Bangladesh), highly rapid rate of mutation, its propensity to acquire genes from viruses affecting other human and animal species, and because of its high fatality rate. Already it has evolved into at least two genetic clades (1, 2, and probably 3), and six subclades, since it was first reported in Hong Kong in 1997. The entire human population has little or no immune protection, due to lack of prior infection of H5, the current events in Egypt, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India, notwithstanding. What is occurring is that the H5N1 virus is in the process of acquiring and radiating to new host ranges, other than poultry, by adaptive alteration of its HA, NS and PB2 genes and proteins, through rapid divergent evolution. The new host range seems to be leaning towards humans, and if the H5N1 virus mutates or recombines with other influenza strains which spread efficiently human-to-human (which I believe is bound to occur eventually), then we will have a world wide unprecedented apocalypse on our hands.

You also have another great informative article – the one which describes the detailed pandemic preparations being undertaken in Hawaii. I have a nephew and a cousin (a physician, believe it or not) who live there, and both have been in contact with me over the last year and verified that the entire state of Hawaii is becoming very well prepared for an influenza pandemic. Both of them have three months of supplies and food stashed away. I have similar contacts in Utah and Alaska, who say they are aware of the threat and their local health departments are on top of things.

Unfortunately for the rest of the US states, I don’t think they feel the same sense of preparedness or urgency. I believe we are being left pretty much on our own.



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