Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 22 Flu Update

More outbreaks in India.

Given that there has to be bird flu in North Korea, the announcement that they are banning South Korean flu imports is somewhat funny.

Watch people in Nashville comment that the bird flu hoopla has calmed down.

HHS reports back on Sec. Leavitt's trip to Asia. CIDRAP....

The NAMRU-2 lab is situated near other government buildings in Jakarta and has been integrated into the country's health system, Steiger added. The lab has connections to several private and public hospitals in Indonesia and has played a key role in tracking pathogens in the country.

However, Indonesia's health minister recently prohibited all tissue samples—not just those containing H5N1 influenza viruses—from being sent to NAMRU-2, he said.

Warning: Actual science content. Revere blogs on recent research on cells and the immune system. Part I of a multi-part post.

TLR4 is now part of a whole family (13 at last count) of Toll-like genes that produce generalized pattern recognition receptors for broad classes of pathogen components. As such they are part of the innate immune system that begins to act before there is any antibody selection or response. Our knowledge of the TLR system is very recent since their discovery is barely ten years old. But already the original TLR gene, TLR4, is becoming part of the bird flu story.

Health Department in Florida warns people not to touch dead birds.

A 19-page pamphlet titled, “What to do about Bird or Avian Flu,” and published by the Sarasota County Health and Human Services Department, admonishes residents to avoid touching dead birds.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your one article today that really caught my attention (limited as my span is), is the news piece out of Nashville.

I could be dead wrong, but I think the comments by the various individuals in the article are fairly representative of sentiments and beliefs across many of the cities in the US, and just goes to show how complacent and ill informed the general population is, especially when it comes to bird flu and impending food shortages. In particular, the comments about bird flu were, “It’s just not something you think about everyday”, and “It really hasn’t been on my personal radar too much”. My point is, when it comes to the threat of an influenza pandemic, the average person doesn’t have a clue (or care), what’s going on in South Korea, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, or Egypt at the moment. They are too preoccupied with distractions. The spread of bird flu continues to rock merrily along, but getting very close to an out-of-control situation in several world hot-spots: when the right H5N1 mutations and influenza co-infections occur (which history says will happen), everybody’s goose is pretty much cooked (no pun intended).

On a second important note, people everyone are not paying attention to the world-wide shortage of basic food-stuffs, that is slowly manifesting itself nearly everywhere. Major retailers in NY, New England and West Coast are limiting the purchases of flour, rice and cooking oil. Australia’s rice production has collapsed after six years of drought. The price of rice has doubled in the last five weeks alone. Increased food prices have caused riots in Haiti, Indonesia, and several countries in Africa recently. India, Vietnam and China have stopped exporting rice completely – no new sales contracts. In many third world countries of the world, beans, corn and rice are becoming unobtainable. Hungry textile workers recently clashed with the government in Bangladesh. In Egypt, the military is baking bread as one of their new duties. In Indonesia, the government just raised their food subsidies budget by $ 280M to help the poor. The Philippine government has started selling subsidized rice at military bases to ensure soldiers and their families have enough food. Thailand just instituted signs in all of its markets limiting the amount of rice the people can purchase – and all over Asia, governments are putting measures in place to limit the hoarding of food. To make matters worse, the US and Europe have been encouraging the development of fuels from crops such as corn and soybeans, thus limiting their production and removing them from the food chain. People in the West, China, India and Bangladesh must realize that meat (mainly poultry) on their table, and biofuels in their vehicles is going to have a hefty cost in the very near future.

The “Perfect Storm” is developing and becoming a distinct possibility – a terrible influenza pandemic and a world wide food shortage crisis overlapping at the same time. People everywhere are not reading the news articles, they are not recognizing the converging storm clouds on the horizon, and they are waiting until crises’ occur before they begin any preparation.

A world wide food crisis and a world wide pandemic – a “silent tsunami of hunger and bird flu” threatening the poor of the world (and the “rich”, as Supari loves to say) - can it get any worse than that ? Maybe if a one-mile meteor hit the earth, I guess.



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