Wednesday, May 07, 2008

May 7 Flu Update

Hospitals in Seoul are on "high alert."

Lloyd's of London has an interview with its Director of Emerging Risks which serves as a pretty good primer about a potential bird flu pandemic.

Bird flu is reported back in Southern Vietnam.

Bird flu drill held in Alaska.

PETA renews argument that factory farms cause or encourage bird flu.

This is cool....Maria Merziotis, of Ottawa, Canada, won a national biotechnology contest with bird flu implications. That's the world's future, right there!

A 17-year-old Ottawa high school student has won a national student biotechnology competition by making a molecule that flu viruses stick to, which could potentially be used to diagnose or eventually prevent flu infections.

Official WHO release on Geneva meetings.

"New concepts and tools including the International Health Regulations 2005, the global pandemic influenza action plan, antiviral and H5N1 vaccine stockpiles, pandemic severity scale and a rapid containment protocol have emerged since the last revision in 2005," said Dr Keiji Fukuda, Coordinator of the WHO Global Influenza Programme. "Experience gained through dealing with H5N1 outbreaks, and through active preparedness by many countries makes this review a crucial exercise."

Abilene TX hosts bird flu drill.

Worcester, MD has opted not to buy anti-virals, after a presentation.


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Very interesting summary of bird flu articles in your coverage today – all over the board. The news out of South Korea appears to be somewhat confusing about whether or not there are actually H5N1 infected people, but the fact that their Seoul hospitals are on “high alert” and Tamiflu is being dispensed wholesale, indicates they are seriously concerned. The virulence of H5N1 strain currently circulating in the poultry there certainly seems to be a lot worse than what is normally experienced in past years. Interesting - while bird flu seems to becoming entrenched in more countries around the globe – PETA seems to be stuck in a ditch with their articles about factory farms (which are no doubt a contributor to the disease, but not a primary cause).

Probably the most controversial article you posted, is the Worcester, MD piece about their county not purchasing Oseltamivir at extraordinarily cheap government rates. What a dumb misguided decision, one which they are basing on “legal and medical issues”. I truly don’t think the public health officer there understands the potentially catastrophic situation at all and they are more worried about the political fall out. I did see her remarks that “further study may lead her to recommend Worcester participate in the future” – which can be construed to mean: if a pandemic surfaces, they will rush out and submit their purchase order to procure some from the feds, or access the state stockpile. In this instance, it seems that the health officer is more concerned about the political fall out following selection of the “qualifying recipients” and “administering the medication”. What a cop out. Shame on the health department of that county.

I have mentioned this before on numerous occasions: if a deadly influenza pandemic breaks out, angry citizens who believe Tamiflu is the only drug left in the world to save their families, will be crashing their pickup trucks and cars into local pharmacy entrances to take it, if they don’t have access to it. They will high-jack physicians and medical workers to acquire it and they will use deadly force to take it from anybody who they believe has it, even hospitals. In 1995, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms estimated that the number of firearms available in the US was 223 million (I believe this is a very conservative estimate). We have the largest armed constituency in the world, not including the military. About 25% of the adults in the United States personally own a gun and most guns are in the hands of people who are normally unlikely to misuse them and who tend to not have criminal records. Guns are prominent in contemporary U.S. popular culture as well, appearing frequently in movies, television, music, books, and magazines. A deadly pandemic would more than likely cause panic and chaos.

The simple fact is, there are vastly many more people who possess guns in the US right now, than who currently have any access to one single Tamiflu tablet. This is a prescription for disaster during a pandemic (no pun intended). The solution is simple: get the antivirals out to the populace as soon as possible, so it is accessible.



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