June 29 Flu UpdateEgypt is educating families about fighting the bird flu.
There are also educational programs in Japan.
The bird flu alert in South Korea has been lifted.
The idea of airport fever screening to keep a pandemic out has a lot of psychological appeal. Unfortunately its benefits are also only psychological: pandemic preparedness theater. There's no magic bullet for warding off a pandemic. The best way to prepare for a pandemic or any other health threat is to have a robust and resilient public health infrastructure.
Elsewhere, chicken farmers in Hong Kong threatened to release their chickens to protest what they see as an unfair compensation offer from government officials who, after recent H5N1 outbreaks in the city's live poultry markets, are exploring the possibility of phasing out live chicken trading, according to a Jun 20 AFP report.
In other avian influenza developments, experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently said Vietnam will probably need to continue vaccinating poultry for at least the next 3 to 5 years, according to a Jun 19 statement from the FAO.
If the current outbreaks are officially confirmed -- as they appear to be -- this is disappointing and a blow to the Pakistani poultry industry and indeed to the veterinary services which have, reportedly, invested considerable efforts and skill to control and eradicate the epizootic; the declaration of freedom above may have to be reconsidered. Possibly, the current event is due to the unstable situation along the borders with Afghanistan, allowing introduction of infected animals and their products, contaminated feed, etc.
Differences in the sensitivity of the tests mean companies could be underestimating or overestimating the power of their vaccines as they try to work out what is the smallest protective dose, experts admit.
As things stand now, there is no way to usefully compare the results of one company's clinical trials for their vaccine with a competitor's findings.
"Countries have been on crisis alert for some years and unfortunately the threat is not going away. H5N1 is popping up all over the world, even more frequently than it did two years ago," he said when met at the Institute for Medical Research.
"People have very short attention spans and when something is in the news for a while, it becomes old news and then it's no news," she said at a conference Saturday. "We have to be very strategic to make sure that the leaders and governments fill in for the tendency toward complacency."
The vaccine can be adjusted in a similar way that flu vaccines are changed throughout the year to combat new strains.
"I am very proud to be Health Minister in a country where we have this ingenuity on our shores," she said.
The vaccine can only be used once a pandemic is officially declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) but can be manufactured within weeks once a new strain is identified.
Novartis withdrew its pre-pandemic vaccine from regulatory consideration in the EU, saying it could not supply required data in the timeframe required.
"The impact of a pandemic on employee absenteeism and its associated effects on lost revenues and incomes are also likely to be very significant," it concludes. "Firms cannot afford to ignore such risks for competitive, as well as legal and fiduciary reasons."
That's even more the case if their competitors are preparing themselves, the author of the study said.
In an accompanying perspective article in NEJM, Peter F. Wright, MD, cites the introduction of a cell-culture–derived flu vaccine as perhaps the most important innovation represented by the Baxter report. Conventional egg-based technology requires decisions in February concerning the next season's vaccine strains, he notes. But with cell-culture vaccines, "this schedule could be altered to permit incorporation of late-emerging threats."
A graphic accompanying Wright's commentary indicates that cell-culture technology would permit mass production of a vaccine within 12 weeks from the time a pandemic flu virus is identified, versus 22 weeks for egg-based technology.
"Let's say we have someone who came into the United States from Paris on Air France, was in the U.S. for a few weeks and then returned to France, and is discovered to have been infectious on both inbound and outbound flights," Marienau said in an interview. "We would want to notify US citizens that were on that outbound flight, but we have to rely on French authorities contacting Air France and initiating the investigation."
“Widespread prophylaxis to control a pandemic before any vaccine is available, is totally wrong,” Laver continued. “It would be a wicked waste of a valuable resource! Australia had a policy (long since abandoned) to provide essential workers with Tamiflu prophylaxis for six weeks at the start of the pandemic.”
But “what happens then?” Laver mussed. “Apart from the difficulty in identifying the essential workers, and keeping the Tamiflu stockpile safe from desperate people who would do anything to get the drug, at the end of six weeks all those people who had been taking Tamiflu for prophylaxis would be left without protection. And the stockpile would have vanished.”
"If another case of avian influenza is found in other retail market in Hong Kong, the government will call all chickens in the retail level," Chow said.
Sharon Sanders, editor-in-chief of FluTrackers, a well-known Web message board that focuses on avian flu developments, told CIDRAP News that Indonesia's decision to delay H5N1 notifications will obscure what is happening there, which negatively affects the world's ability to prepare for a pandemic.
She said Indonesia's news blackout would likely have the opposite effect from what the government apparently intends. "Now, there will be intense speculation and generation of rumors surrounding suspicious deaths that have similar symptoms to H5N1 infections," Sanders said. "False rumors of an H5N1 outbreak have the potential to be even more economically devastating than a government-confirmed outbreak."
The Health Minister is a nutcase to begin with yet her colleagues in the Indonesian government are letting take the wheel of the bird flu bus. Who is going to pay any attention to what the driver says over the loudspeaker system when the bus has already been driven into the ditch?
A 15-year-old girl died of bird flu last month, becoming Indonesia's 109th victim, but the government decided to keep the news quiet. It is part of a new policy aimed at improving the image of the nation hardest hit by the disease.Britain confirms H7 in latest outbreak. This news is all over the web, but mostly repetitive.
``How does it help us to announce these deaths?'' Heath Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said Thursday, after confirming that the girl from southern Jakarta tested positive on May 13 and died one day later. ``We want to focus now on positive steps and achievements made by the government in fighting bird flu.''
Interesting story on how mobile phones could be used to track human movement in a community.
Frank Jones, associate director for extension at the Center for Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, said 10 to 12 low-pathogenic avian flu infections occur in the state each year, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported today. He said migratory geese could have brought the low-pathogenic strain to northwestern Arkansas, where it could have spread to the breeder hens.
"Typically these things happen in spring and fall when we get waterfowl migration. There's been a lot of waterfowl that have come through," Jones told the newspaper.
A new study, published by the team in the journal Nature, has monitored the movements of 100,000 people by their mobile-phone signals, and perhaps unsurprisingly shows that most people are creatures of habit, tending to make regular migrations to the same few locations, but with occasional long hops.
Mapping large-scale human movements is important for urban planning, traffic forecasting and disease monitoring, but previous attempts to model these patterns, such as by tracking bank notes, have not provided an accurate picture of individuals' movement.
...the team said it used a combination of the antiviral drug zanamivir and the non- steroid anti-flammatory agents celecoxib and mesalazine.
An experiment mating H5N1 avian flu viruses and a strain of human flu in a laboratory produced a surprising number of hybrid viruses that were biologically fit, a new study reveals.
And while none of the offspring viruses was as virulent as the original H5N1, about one in five were lethal to mice at low doses, showing they retained at least a portion of the power of their dangerous parent.