Thursday, May 29, 2008

May 28 Flu Update

The WHO has confirmed the case in Bangladesh.

Bhutan holds flu awareness meeting (hint: there's ART)

There is a threat of bird flu, but the stupid swans of Dorset continue to breed.

The Philippines had banned poultry imports from Saskatchewan.

CIDRAP on the evolution of human-like H7 viruses.

Revere blogs on this study as well. As always, this is the perfect piece for understanding this report. One thing is that the whole flu world is not H5N1. The other is below--this little RNA clump remains a mystery to us, a humbling moment in our know-it-all world.

What I get from this study is that we are still some way from understanding the underlying biology of transmissibility and its relation to receptor configurations and related matters. At this point we cannot simply look at the virus's genetic sequence to see what is going to happen. We don't yet understand the connection between the sequence and the biology. Maybe some day we will, but today isn't that day.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


First, you have to clue us in: “ART” means what ? You have me stumped here… it could be an acronym for “Avian Response Team”, or “Applied Research and Technology”, or did you mean “art” as in pictures ?

I am even having a little trouble with the first CIDRAP article: what does it REALLY mean when the “WHO confirms that the 16 month old boy from Bangladesh had an H5N1 avian influenza infection” ? Does it means that they confirmed two lab PCR tests and they are satisfied, or do they just view themselves like the Supreme Court – they get the final official ruling ?

Your second CIDRAP article and Revere’s comments on H7 viruses growing more human-like and displaying a dramatic shift in increasing affinity for human-type receptors, brings two obvious observations to point out: (1) H7 viruses have already been found routinely in wild bird samples throughout the US over the last two years by USDA scientists while conducting routine inspections (so one has to conclude that it is pervasive in our wild bird population already); and (2) a pandemic caused by H7 with a 1% demonstrated CFR and whose main symptoms are conjunctivitis, is not nearly as worrisome as H5 with an average worldwide CFR of 60 %.

I’ll take an H7 pandemic any day of the year, without breaking a sweat. In fact, it would hardly even be noticeable by anyone. But an H5 pandemic (?) – that’s talking potential catastrophic consequences for everyone. Big difference in impact between the two in my opinion.



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