Saturday, March 08, 2008

March 7 Flu Update

Bird flu is back in Hanoi after a year.

A wild bird is also H5N1 positive in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, man in Thailand is negative.

Interesting. Vietnam says its running out of Tamiflu that isn't dated.

Federal Reserve official says bird flu would hit city dwellers and poor hardest.

This is fascinating. A region in very rural Quebec--Nunavik--is figuring out how to isolate itself from the world in a pandemic. Must read.

If a pandemic flu hits Quebec, airline passengers won't be able to freely travel between Nunavik and the South for three months or longer.

Isolating Nunavik is the cornerstone of the Nunavik regional health board's "regional preventive isolation" plan to stop a pandemic - a worldwide outbreak of illness - from entering the region.

The board's plan means that when airline passengers from Nunavik travel south during a pandemic, they will not be able to return without first going through a period of enforced isolation, called a quarantine.

Ontario articles says that SARS might have been our last wake up call.

Revere on a test to determine if Tamiflu is counterfeit.

Russian officials warned that the bird flu risk is getting worse.

Pigeon racers are upset in UK that bird flu might threaten their events.


At 6:54 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


You have some very interesting articles today that I would like to comment on.
Overall, I would like to say up front the news you are posting is starting to really get my attention.

In your first couple of articles out of Vietnam, did you notice the following two statements: “We have had to issue warnings for better preparations for a possible pandemic, as the virus usually flares up in the cold weather”, and “The Central Hygiene Epidemic Institute reported 48 cases of acute pneumonia suspected of stemming from avian influenza this year” (note: you recall seeing 48 reported human bird flu cases in the last 2 ½ months – not me) ? I don’t believe either of these statements are translational errors. Things are not going well there, and they are worried. The fact that they are running short on Tamiflu, intuitively tells me that they have been blanketing their provinces with this antiviral over the last couple of years at incredible rates – this fact, coupled with their massive unsuccessful (mostly) poultry vaccination program, tells me they are probably entering dire straits.

The Russians I believe hit the nail squarely on the head, with their Rosselkhoznadzor statement, “the threat from the deadly bird flu virus is growing as countries are failing to implement effective disease control measures to deal with the crisis”. The Russians are very practical and efficient in their methods, like the Swiss and Germans… when they start getting worried, everyone should take notice (kind of like when E.F. Hutton speaks).

Note carefully in the article about the St. Louis Federal Reserve written by researcher Thomas Garrett, that in the year 2000, an estimated 91% of non-whites and 75% of Caucasian’s live in urban areas – not really much difference, statistically to make much difference in my view. So, I fail to see why the suggestion is made that “non-whites” would be hit hardest hit during a pandemic. Actually, age would be the more critical determinant, since the young were hardest hit during the 1918 pandemic, and seems to be the clear preference of H5N1, so far. I read the complete research paper when it published and the only valuable message it really conveys (unintentionally I suppose), is if a pandemic emerges, you better not be stuck in the inner city or in a large metropolitan area, or you may be pretty well hosed.

I was very impressed with the Nunavik pandemic planning, which calls for “regional preventive isolation”, essentially “regional lockdown” procedures lasting 2-3 months. Is it feasible – who knows, but I suspect it could be quite effective in slowing down the spread of a deadly influenza. Actually, nearly all government agencies who have designated “critical manned operations”, have similar isolation procedures for critical personnel so they do not fall ill. My agency does: hundreds of critical personnel (with their families) will be isolated with enough food and water to sustain themselves and emergency operations for up to 8 weeks. When the relief crew arrives to replace them, they will be quarantined for up to 7 days, to demonstrate they are infection free, before being allowed to enter secure areas and take over. Nah, the Nunavik planning is not too farfetched when it comes down to it. Even some of the Native American Indian Reservation plans call for similar isolation procedures to keep "the white men and trespassers" out.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that – keep it a secret though. (Just a word to the wise: if anyone is planning on entering a Native American Indian Reservation for sanctuary during a pandemic, they better be a card-carrying tribal member, OR, be hauling a truck load of Tamiflu).



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