Thursday, March 13, 2008

March 13 Flu Update

Almost certainly nothing, but....8 people from the same village in Indonesia are hospitalized with suspicion of bird flu.

There is now criticism that the state government in West Bengal is not serious about fighting bird flu.

Caluctta bird markets are being inspected for bird flu.

Bird flu losses continue to mount in Bangladesh.

The US is pledging help to Pakistan on bird flu.

WHO confirms recent Egypt case.

A post on Promed asks for more info on non-human primates in the flu-bearing world. This is, in fact, a good question.

Revere blogs about the civets in Indonesia. Whole post is good, key point follows:

The second question about the Vietnam civets is this: how did they get infected? They weren't fed poultry (as least as far as anyone knows, and this was explicitly considered) nor were they in contact with poultry. It sounds like these animals were semi-confined, so the virus would have to have been brought to them somehow. Wild birds? Possibly, although there is no evidence in this case. Humans? But how? On boots or shoes? Possibly. But this virus has shown transmissibility to mammals to be difficult, and unless it has changed in that respect, doesn't seem so likely. Other civets in the same enclosure were apparently unaffected. Or is their yet another vector. Bats? It might be. Bats are now implicated as an important source in SARS, not palm civets.

This case needs to be examined carefully. It is these often seemingly anomalous instances which are the most informative.

Bird flu information is passed along in Alabama.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


You have a few interesting news articles today that prompts a little philosophical thinking…

Hard to believe we would all be sitting around “ho-humming” about an 8-11 potential Indonesian human cluster of H5N1, but that’s where we are at. Seems like the number of infected villagers there just keeps on rolling in, no reports of additional culling operations, or no significant government actions being taken (other than rhetoric and controversial books railing against western imperialism).

The H5N1 situation in India seems to be a product of its own bureaucracy. Finger pointing at bureaucrats and petty bickering and questioning government sincerely in newspaper editorials, isn’t going to resolve much of anything, in my view. The bottom line is that if these two governments (India and Bangladesh) don’t start implementing extreme and rather drastic containment strategies very soon, there is going to be some very hungry people running around in a couple of months. They are failing to look at surveillance and containment as a necessary “investment”, in order to head off downstream extreme economic losses, famine, panic, and perhaps political and social unrest in the near future.

I had to google “civets”, to see what one actually looks like – they look like a cross between a skunk, a cat and raccoon. Cute little things, hard to see anything that might induce a four hour problem (i.e.aphrodisiac). As Revere says, it would be nice to know how they are getting infected, and are they really the ONLY mammals that the H5N1 seems to infecting ? I doubt it myself – somebody should do a little “James Bond” or “Jason Bourne” type secret mission into mainland China (while they are there for the Olympics, perhaps), and get some piggy blood samples there to see what’s really going on.

I also think if the WHO, the “UN Food and Agriculture Organization” (FAO) and the “Office International des Epizooties” (OIE), would get off of their cans and conduct some serious surveys of animals in some of these bird flu endemic countries, they might be really surprised at how many mammals (wild and domestic) are trolling around with the virus antibodies in their blood streams. They could hire the Boy Scouts to do it and save millions of dollars.

Come to think of it, they could also test some of the rivers and streams in these countries for the H5N1 virus and Oseltamivir residue, to determine if either are in the water supplies.

I’ll bet that answer would be surprising.



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