Sunday, March 02, 2008

March 1 Flu Update

Is a cluster emerging? Father and son with bird flu in Indonesia.

There's also a new human case in Egypt.

The decision by Indonesia to send bird flu samples to WHO has put the Australian government under pressure.

The GSK virus is shown to be cross protective against several sub-strains.

We cover everything, including speeches at assisted living facilities about flu and bird flu in Alabama.

Advice on cooking chicken to defend against bird flu in Bangladesh.

Bird flu and food in Asia.

People in Arizona are urged to report dead fowl to the authorities.


At 6:09 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I don’t really see signs of a cluster in the data for the nine-year-old Indonesian boy and his father. It appears more like they both were infected from the same source (backyard fowl) or ate the infected family chickens. There seems to be the same thing going on with a similar case in Thailand: Promma Kulkasem, 57, who lived in the Northeastern Chaiyaphum Province; he ate some of his chickens that died from H5N1, and he ain’t doin too well either. Note for the record: slaughtering and eating cooked H5N1 infected chickens (regardless what the health authorities say about the cooking temp), is very hazardous to ones health. However, unrelated to these events in Indonesia and Thailand, are two sisters in Egypt who have both fallen ill from what appears to be H5N1 infection, which very well could be a limited familial cluster, since there is no evidence they ate their chickens. These cases in Egypt have the classic signs of a cluster. (Niman is reporting the Egyptian women’s cases as “very aggressive”, based on the rapidness of illness timelines).

In addition to these cases, there are also a very suspicious and peculiar news report coming out of Hong Kong, about a three-year-old boy, who spent some time in China’s Fujian Province, and who is now in a Hong Kong hospital with acute diarrhea, fever and upper respiratory tract infections – but “avian influenza has been ruled out, since no human or poultry outbreak of avian influenza has been reported there (Fujian) for more than six months”. No surprise there I guess… no official reports of H5N1 outbreaks kind of automatically rules out the infection in the communist world and life becomes far less complicated via government decree. China is setting new benchmarks with this approach.

I believe the Australian Howard government really didn’t play its cards right with the Indonesian government. The former health minister, Tony Abbott, should have told Ms. Supari that Australia would send “an unlimited supply of the new prototype vaccine, (God willing) to the Indonesian government, should a pandemic emerge”. Then there wouldn’t have been all the controversy about affordability and the releasing their strains. We all know that every government in the world that possesses an H5N1 experimental vaccine of any type or clade, will absolutely and unconditionally use it to first vaccinate its own population centers, before any other country. In fact, any health minister or leader who authorized the release of scarce vaccine supplies to other countries at the onset of a virulent pandemic, versus protecting its own citizens, would probably be hung from a yardarm (or neutered), in my view.

Finally Orange, a little know piece of legislation passed mostly unnoticed in the House Oversight and Government Reform Federal Workforce Subcommittee, on February 28th: the Telework Improvement Act of 2007, which forces the federal government to allow all federal workers to begin teleworking on a limited basis immediately – in response to COOP “all emergency plans” and in anticipation of a national pandemic crisis. Up to now, amazingly enough, the Bush Administration has not enforced or promoted teleworking measures (in fact, it was discouraged), and it took this piece of legislation, sponsored by Democrats Elihah Cummings, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Henry Waxman, Tom Davis, John Sarbanes and Frank Wolf, to force the legislation through and bring the federal government into the 21st century (somewhat).

In my view and in my opinion, this is a significant threshold we are now crossing. Word came down from Washington on February 29th to begin telework authorizations immediately in my agency (36,000 workers). Are we closer to a pandemic ? Who knows, it’s anybody’s guess, but I believe the signs are that the federal government is getting nervous, and taking the threat of one very serious all of a sudden.



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