Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 5 Flu Update

Here's the must read of the day. This article from Indonesia notes something that has been circulating for a while. While we know that human-human transmission is still rare, we also don't know how many of these people are getting sick. There is no obvious answer.

"The behaviour (of the virus in Indonesia) is mysterious and we are competing with the dynamics of the virus. There needs to be deeper study on why there are more cases in humans, what are the risk factors... so we can cut the chain of infection to humans," Widjastuti said.

CIDRAP on two new cases in Indonesia, one fatal, one very serious. Note the cluster of cases in one suburb for monitoring....

Excellent BBC story from the ground in India on "risky" or (in my opinion) reckless practices during culling.

The only people in the village with protective gear for bird flu are the five members of the culling team - and this correspondent.

Local official Aloka Mondal says she is busy trying to meet government targets for culling birds and does not have the time to follow the safety protocol.

Flu spreads in Bangladesh (30 districts).

Revere notes that Bangladesh has big problems and little ability to deal with them. Having said that, they are not sharing viruses with India.

CIDRAP on fresh outbreak in Bangladesh and Pakistan.

ProMed also has the Pakistani story. Note references to poultry import patterns.

West Bengal says no human cases there.

India has culled 3.4 million birds to no avail.

Poultry workers in Pakistan are being tested for H5N1. (very low probability of anything here).

Pakistanis are also told poultry and eggs are safe to eat.

Vietnam is keeping the alert up.....

Thailand appears to be taking the latest outbreak in stride.

Upper Pradesh says it has not been hit by bird flu.

ProMed from Turkey and India on the migratory bird debate.


At 6:29 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Without any doubt, your first article about Indonesia being “baffled”, is was a must read. I see it as the first step towards an admission that the virus is in an uncontrollable state. Further, notice that for the first time (that I can recall), they publicly admit that H5N1 is being found in their water supplies, which probably means that a heck of a lot of water sources over there are contaminated. They provide no details as to their “investigative studies”, so it is nearly impossible to arrive at any definitive conclusions as to any smoking gun(s). However, in my view there are some key questions and issues that need to be addressed: (1) the true extent to which the total environment is contaminated has never been thoroughly evaluated (1/2 of all wet markets being contaminated is a first good indicator, but this just scratches the surface); (2) how widespread the virus has infected other animals and hosts is unknown; and (3) to what extent the virus is being spread by airborne transmission is impossible to determine. Nobody knows the answer to any of these questions and Indonesia isn’t talking.

Lets face it… Indonesia on whole, is populated mainly by impoverished and poorly educated individuals, and “governed” by a grossly inept decentralized government. Until they implement significant necessary cultural, governmental and public health changes across the board, their bird flu situation is not going to magically disappear, nor is it going to mitigate their “risk factors” in any substantive way. I am absolutely positive that if Madame Supari and her government were more cooperative with Western and European powers, the latest state-of-the art technology and scientific resources could be made available to minimize the H5N1 virus in their environment. As it stands now, I don’t see how cozying up to Hugo Chavez or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is adding any value or solutions to their problem. And judging from their death rates, things are getting worse by the month.

Speaking of reckless behavior and unsafe culling practices. Your BBC story really makes a person wonder if a country like India employs the sort of dangerous and atrocious approaches to poultry culling that is described… what kind of government practices would they employee during a rampant human influenza pandemic ? People (ACLU-ites) worry about George Bush using the military to stifle human rights in the US during a pandemic – I’d hate to be caught in downtown Calcutta or Bombay if a deadly influenza pandemic hit – you might as well right your last letter home and get ready to descend into Dante’s Inferno.

Finally I noticed in the Pakistan Daily Times article that is captioned, “Poultry safe for use, no threat of bird flu outbreak”, Dr. Mohammad Sadiq said the following in his press conference:

1. “there is not a single case in the world where a person was reported to have died after touching the affected poultry meat”.

2. “there is no possibility of bird flu outbreak and the prevailing rumors about the spread of the disease are only based on incomplete information”.

3. “ Who reports suggested that the virus of avian influenza could not change its form quickly”.

I think we have now discovered one of the real reasons why people are still dying from this virus. Miscommunication and disinformation is alive and well.



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