Thursday, February 21, 2008

February 20 Flu Update

Vietnam now has bird flu in six more provinces, and a new death.

A second outbreak has also occurred in Tibet.

ProMed also on Tibet.

The US has dismissed claims that of a virus sharing conspiracy.

Area in Philippines claims to be bird flu free.

General article on animal viruses jumping to humans.

CDC says US states are more prepared for bird flu.

Revere on a recent paper about transmissibility in 1918. Bottom line: we have learned more about transmissibility, but we still can't look at mutations and tell which ones will trigger H2H and which ones won't.

Pandemic Flu blogpost in Seattle.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Reading your first article about the current outbreaks of bird flu in Vietnam, one has to wonder what in the world happened to their much touted massive poultry vaccination program. Is it proving to be futile – it is beginning to look that way. As far as cock-fighting goes, if enough people die from this gruesome activity, maybe it will cease to exist and help the overall situation.

China, what to say…I find it very curious and suspicious we still have individuals falling ill from H5N1 infections (Guangxi, Hunan, Nanjing) and no reports of poultry outbreaks. Indeed, it seems if India and Bangladesh can have monumental domestic poultry and wild bird deaths, conduct gigantesque culling operations – and not have a single infected human being – then China by comparison must be in deep doo-doo yogurt. Infected chickens and swine are likely to be everywhere, otherwise, how else (logically) would the individuals become infected? From doorknobs, park benches or bicycle seats perhaps ?

I think it’s quite significant that our US State Department responded almost within hours with an official denial to the baseless allegations and rantings of Ms. Supari. Our Department of State maintains a list of names of “loose cannons” throughout the world that are viewed as unstable, inflammatory and foment discord against US interests, and I’m quite sure the Indonesian Health Department doctor is now on it.

Finally, the authors of the CIDRAP did an excellent job in their summarization of the CDC Assessment Report. In my view, there is no doubt some major progress has taken place in most US states since 2001, from an “all hazards” perspective. However, I absolutely agree with the position of Dr. Osterholm, that existing systems and plans are primarily geared to contend with natural disaster events, and are not prepared for a pandemic. The massive universal disruption across regions of the US and Canada that could result with the intermittent deliveries of energy, food, fuel, health care and emergency services, could be significant – far in excess of a hurricane, tsunami, earth quake or even any terrorist event. Not to mention the lost productivity and economic impact, and the hit to financial processes, as people fall ill and are afraid to venture out into public.

There is no doubt that disease surveillance in the US needs to be vastly improved and all public health departments need to get engaged with pandemic preparations, far beyond the level they have. As a case in point, most of us don’t even know where our county health departments are located, how often they meet, who is in charge, and would need a map to find the location. In fact, about the only time we hear from our public health officials is when some significant health event hits the CDC radar, we have a local disaster like a tornado, or the national evening news networks report some sensational recall of hamburger meat.

Another case in point, and simple test question: what’s in place to stop an international airplane from Indonesia or China, with a handful of highly infectious H5N1 sick passengers, from landing in any of our major airports and sparking a pandemic, before we even know it is happening? Nothing…the pandemic will have started before we can even get the Tamiflu distributed in the required first 48 hours. Heck, we couldn’t even diagnose and confirm the virus within a week or two, and issue a public statement.



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