Monday, June 30, 2008

June 29 Flu Update

Egypt 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.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 28 Flu Update

More on leading scientists who say that bird flu is still a risk.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 27 Flu Update

A public official in Pakistan has been punished for a false bird flu alarm.

ProMed with the news on Hong Kong's compensation battle and the Pakistan false alarm.

Bird flu training is a local affair in Cambodia.

WSJ Blog looks at how cheap they are making Tamiflu.

Friday, June 27, 2008

June 26 Flu Update

The Economist brings its usual high quality and incisive reporting to the subject of bird flu in Southern China, saying that the actions of the government suggest that they know more than they let on. Must read. (My note: when are the Olympics again?)

Another must read from Promed. First, strong tactics are being used to get poultry farmers in Hong Kong to accept a compensation deal, and poultry farmers in Pakistan are made that a less virulent strain of bird flu was called H5N1 by the government.

This is all over the news. Roche has introduced plans to get businesses to stock on Tamiflu, and they have the blessing of the US government.

Hong Kong says live birds cannot be kept in poultry markets overnight.

Laurel MD has been doing pandemic testing.

Same exercise is going on in Wyoming.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June 25 Flu Update

Usual excellent analysis by Revere on the benefits of screening for bird flu at airports by checking for fevers. Keyword: theatre.

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.

Apparently acting on tape delay, Mexico has banned Arkansas poultry.

Greenwich CT is testing its flu plan.

Chenango County, NY is also testing its flu plan.

A Toronto firm is partnering with Hunan province on the bird flu.

USAID is working in Sri Lanka on bird flu prevention.

Uganda got $17M from the World Bank to fight bird flu.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 24th Flu Update

No translator needed...Portuguese speaking nations get together to talk bird flu.

More culling in Hong Kong.

A health department in the state of Washington is in trouble for purchasing procedures related to its Tamiflu purchase.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

June 23 Flu Update

CIDRAP on the virus re-surfacing in Pakistan, angry farmers in Hong Kong and the FAO telling Vietnam to keep vaccinating poultry for 3-5 years.

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.

ProMed also has the news from Pakistan. Note mod comment:

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.

DEFRA in Britain looks at the recent outbreak, concludes it was limited to one place.

Here's an Olympic swimmer who wrote a master's thesis on bird flu.

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 22 Flu Update

Here's an article right out of the flu playbook. One of the cardinal ideas about bird flu is that it will often be mis-diagnosed, just as it was in 1918. And this report indicates that may be happening now....if nothing else, it cuts a hole in the containment strategy.

Another great article from Helen Branswell. Is the lack of a consistent measurement tool hampering the ability to calibrate the flu vaccine correctly?

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.

Revere blogs this article as well, saying that its clear from the noise in the vaccine space that commercial interests still believe a pandemic is possible, even as the headlines quiet.

A flu meeting in November will discuss whether WHO should stockpile more pre-pandemic vaccines.

Bird flu, or the fear thereof has caused a cull in Pakistan.

Interesting article from the Times of London. Bernard Matthews, the major poultry producer in Britain who experienced an outbreak last year is shooting back....either giving quality data, or trying to use the situation to blame wild birds and scare people away from free-range turkeys. You can decide.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

June 21 Flu Update

Expert says complacency is the enemy.

"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.

CDC head Julie Gerberding has the same message....

"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 French are said to be continuing to be vigilant on the bird flu.

Bird flu planning also continues in Nigeria.

Thailand has canceled a deal to work with China to build a vaccine plant. WHO says it will step in and help.

Revere has a post about Indonesia's announced plan to....well...lie about what is going on there, and wonders why you would vacation there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

June 20 Flu Update

ProMed on the news from Indonesia....there are two recent deaths.

North Korea talks are getting ready to start, and might include bird flu.

WHO notes that with a food crisis, H5N1 wiping out poultry only has a worse impact.

Friday, June 20, 2008

No post,, on the road today

Thursday, June 19, 2008

June 18 Flu Update

The Indonesian Health Minister says bird flu cases over the last six months in the country are down.

Hong Kong health officials says that due to government intervention, there is little risk of human bird flu in that country.

Surveillance shows that Alaska, a migratory pathway, is free of bird flu.

The EU has relaxed the bird flu protection zone in Britain.

CIDRAP on the comments of David Nabarro yesterday on improved pandemic prep with a remaining threat.

Bird flu ruled out in swan death in Wales.

Canadian Letter to Editor chides newspaper for mixing up antivirals and vaccines.

Bedford TN is lauded for its bird flu plan.

Action! Bird flu plan in Nepal begins.

The Chamber of Commerce in Cadiz, KY, heard a pandemic flu talk.

There was also a pandemic drill in Maryland.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 17 Flu Update

WHO's David Nabarro says that the global response to H5N1 was "extraordinary" and that the outbreaks are being brought under control "reasonably well".

CIDRAP with a world roundup, including Chinese confirmation of the flu in Guandong (how many days until the Olympics?) and a reported outbreak in Vietnam.

ProMed on the Chinese outbreak, and followup reports on flu control in Britain.

CDC is funding research that will allow medical professionals to discern seasonal and pandemic flu in 3 hours. CIDRAP reports.

CIDRAP with yesterday's vaccine news....the Australian vaccine, and Novartis withdrawing its vaccine.

South Korea has restricteds its bird flu quarantines.

Cambodia released a statement that it is vigilant.

Nigeria is trying to boost poultry farming, including work on how flu compensation can play into the mix.

New York Times covers New York City's pandemic flu exercise.

Pandemic flu exercises in Santa Barbara, CA.

Maryland also held a pandemic flu exercise.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June 16 Flu Update

Australia claims to have developed a bird flu vaccine that will work against all strains, based on media reports.

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.

China is reporting an outbreak in a southern province among birds.

A man who cleans poultry markets in Hong Kong has the flu but Hong Kong says it is not H5N1.

Report by Canadian economists calls risk of pandemic flu in next five years "not trivial" urges companies to insure against the risk.

"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.

Novartis withdrew its pre-pandemic vaccine from regulatory consideration in the EU, saying it could not supply required data in the timeframe required.

New Jersey is using the summer to prepare its pandemic flu plan.

The American Journal of Public Health writes about how hard-to-reach populations will be vaccinated for bird flu.

A story in Vietnam about scientists both domestic and foreign working together on bird flu.

CIDRAP has the story about Sanofi's donation to WHO. Includes links to press release, etc.

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 15 Flu Update

Sanofi donates vaccine to WHO.

Helen Branswell weighs in on the Baxter vaccine.

ProMed runs a guest article on the weak point of containment strategy--rapid universal testing of suspected bird flu cases.

St. Joseph County in Indiana is preparing for the bird flu.

The American Health Legal Association is the latest group with a pan flu guide...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 14 Flu Update

Extreme shortage of flu news....

ProMed on existing reports about outbreaks in North Korea.

OIE on outbreaks of bird flu from an animal health perspective.

The Department of Agriculture is being urged to increase bird flu efforts in the Philippines.

Malawi is getting ready for the bird flu.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

June 13 Flu Update

More Indonesian follies. Apparently, their policy of not announcing bird flu deaths extends to the next of kin of the deceased. A man is scouring the papers to find news of his wife, who died of bird flu 10 days ago.

CIDRAP on this report. Note WHO coddling Indonesia....

Fear is gripping Hong Kong.

A lab in Arkansas is screening for the bird flu.

ProMed on the wild bird surveillance recently in Canada.

Friday, June 13, 2008

June 12 Flu Update

Today's big news--all over the place--about a vaccine from Baxter that shows promise. CIDRAP reports.

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.

CIDRAP reports. More H5N1 found in Hong Kong, where ALL market poultry were culled.

Reports now say that poultry traders may have ignored warning signs about H5N1.

Indonesia has now told WHO that it will announce bird flu deaths as they occur.

Arkansas professor reflects on a pandemic in light of their state's recent brush with non-H5N1 bird flu.

Effect Measure has an excellent story on Indonesia and its reporting issue. Crofsblog is a similar blog to this one, with more commentary. He noted that Indonesia stopped giving OIE reports (outbreaks on avian outbreaks) quite a while ago. Revere comments on the Crofs post. All relevant links are in this post--make sure you read the comments, too.

Chambersburg PA has a public discussion on pandemic flu.

The pandemic conversation also continued in Arkansas.

Surveillance shows no bird flu in Canadian wild birds.

Here's a UNICEF bird flu resource page....

Finally, the EU released an expert opinion on bird flu, noted here via ProMed. Excellent state of the virus type stuff, medium level of science content.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

No Post Today....

Chicken out front should have told you.....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June 10 Flu Update

ProMed reports that the Hong Kong outbreak was probably caused by smuggled birds.

The SAARC meeting ends in Asia, with agreements to share information rapidly, etc.

CIDRAP reports a study on why tracing disease in airline patients is still tough. For example:

"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."

The Arkansas flu scare appears to be over.

A province in South Korea is also cleared from the bird flu list.

Public health preparedness is discussed in Brunei.

Scientist who helped develop antivirals says that using them as a preventive measure is a wrong move.

“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.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10th Flu Update

We ran a recent story about concern over disease outbreak in North Korea. Not surprisingly, North Korea has denied it.

There's a meeting of nations going on (SAARC) and they are urging Bangladesh to fight flu harder and communicate more.

More from the meeting....India offers to share its expertise with the region.

CIDRAP on the Hong Kong outbreak.

"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.

Hospitals in Vermont held a pandemic exercise.

Representative from Macau meets with WHO official, discussed pandemic.

According to this, airplane cabins have strong air quality systems and are safer than most crowded public places.

Monday, June 09, 2008

June 8 Flu Update

More on the Hong Kong outbreak, which is Big News, and plummeting poultry sales.

Bangladesh is "gearing up" its bird flu prevention program.

AMA writes about the recent study on antivirals, and how they can be used to slow a pandemic.

Thailand is now flu free, says it wants to export poultry again.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

June 7 Flu Update

About the only news today is the Hong Kong outbreak. It's all over the place.

Other than a lot of culling and wailing, here's an article that says Hong Kong has banned "mainland" poultry from China.

ProMed also has this. Note mod comment that lists Hong Kong protective measures that seemed to have worked for a long time. HK was the site of the very first H5N1 outbreak 11 years ago.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

June 6 Flu Update

You will not be surprised to learn that Indonesia's announcement that it will not announce bird flu deaths regularly has drawn "ire."

ProMed has this story. Note the mod comment that shows that there is confusion about what Indonesia says, too.

Hong Kong has found bird flu in a poultry market.

Hawaii is beginning a program to test travelers with flu-like symptoms as they enter the country.

The Tyson Outbreak is raising bird flu awareness in Arkansas.

In India, compensation to farmers is being delayed--by bureaucracy, it appears.

Britain says bird flu not a risk to the food supply.

Canada is upgrading is surveillance for bird flu.

Lakeland, WI held a bird flu table top exercise.

The Philippines seize poultry shipments from Holland.

Uganda says its bird flu capacity is improving.

Friday, June 06, 2008

June 5 Flu Update

CIDRAP on Indonesia's announcement that it will no longer make prompt notification of bird flu cases.

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."

Effect Measure also blogs this news....

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 farmer in the UK has been recognized for quick action that might have kept bird flu from spreading in that country.

Things seem under control in South Korea, but the poultry industry has continued to be hit.

Vietnam notes no new cases in the past 100 days.

Surveillance in North America shows no H5N1 here.

I'm surprised this isn't happening more...a pandemic committee in Missouri may be disbanded.

A community in Wyoming is joining a statewide pandemic group.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

June 4 Flu Update

Sometimes you just cannot believe what you read. It appears that Indonesia has decided not to publicize bird flu deaths. See below.

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.

``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.''

The media picks up the CDC drug and mask requirements.

Britain confirms H7 in latest outbreak. This news is all over the web, but mostly repetitive.

CIDRAP on outbreaks of H7 in UK and US.

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.

Tyson is having export problems due to bird flu.

Interesting story on how mobile phones could be used to track human movement in a community.

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.

Hawaii is going to do "voluntary" checkpoints for flu.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 3 Flu Update

There's a mystery epidemic in North Korea....bears watching.

Hong Kong Scientists have developed a drug cocktail that has had success in mice in fighting bird flu. (The anti-inflammatory is interesting).

...the team said it used a combination of the antiviral drug zanamivir and the non- steroid anti-flammatory agents celecoxib and mesalazine.

If there's a pandemic, CDC recommends people wear masks in crowds....also defines the appropriate conditions for antiviral usage.

Health and Human Services is putting money behind local preparedness grants.

Maryland will hold a statewide pandemic conference.

Another vaccine shows good early results (from Medicago)

Low-path bird flu found in Tyson Chickens in Arkansas. Not huge news, except for the impact. Falling stock price, etc.

Similarly, southern England had a low path outbreak, too.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

June 2 Flu Update

Study shows that H5N1 can swap genetic material with existing flu viruses relatively easily.

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.

Interesting story on how it takes time to recover from a cull when you are raising laying hens.

Uganda says it is intensifying the bird flu fight.

CIDRAP on USDA releasing 150 sequences.

Fujifilm (yes, that's right) is developing an alternative to Tamiflu.

Government oversight group calls for more transparency on pandemic flu.

The USDA has awarded $5m in bird flu grants.

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 1 Flu Update

The USDA released sequencing of avian flu genomes.

IBM has developed database software which is helping the bird flu fight in the middle east.

AMA newsletter does article on ventilator rationing study which came out a while ago.

Critic reviews the US government's pandemic plan.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

May 31 Flu Update

WHO says it is making progress on intellectual property issues that have hamstrung international bird flu efforts.

A bill in New York on compulsary vaccinations is causing controversy. (It does bring up some issues. In a pandemic, mandatory vaccinations would be a big social/political problem unless panic had set in, in which case people would be demanding them).

A foundation has been founded in Indonesia to help educate the public about bird flu.