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.”


At 8:17 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


After reading your CIDRAP article about the tangled “difficulties” surrounding the process of determining reliable passenger information, and the sensitivities of releasing health information, complex chains of communication and whom is authorized to contact who… it seems to me that if: 88% of airline passengers would be willing to give their airline their cell phone number or pager number or e-mail address; and 73% said they would be willing to provide contact information (assuming that the information will be kept private and secure and will only be used in case of a health emergency); I fail to see why this subject is a big dilemma. Simply pass a law, take the address off of the picture ID that EVERYONE must display before they board any plane, and you basically have your contact information. If individuals don’t care to reveal their contact information, well then, I guess they take a bus. Either the US government (including the CDC and HHS and the WHO) is going to take the situation seriously and resolve these issues, or they are wasting everybody’s precious time and money.

If a person has some shady reason not to reveal who they are and their contact information when they fly on an airplane, or they invoke some kind of whacky civil rights issue, and refuse to comply – then it should be an automatic revocation of their right to step onto an airplane. Why precipitate a pandemic because some knuckleheads are inconsiderate of their fellow man ? The entire CIDRAP article makes a person wonder if the world has gone bonkers.

And speaking of going bonkers, it doesn’t take a virologist or a rocket scientist to determine that the wholesale prophylactic use of Tamiflu is a terrible idea. The numbers alone in the SNS stockpile don’t support this approach. Tamiflu, as many of have said for years now, should be made available over-the-counter in pharmacies immediately. Also, Tamiflu and Relenza should also be made available for personal use – I absolutely 100% disagree with Dr. Graeme Lever at that point. (make the rapid flu tests available to the public, and any seventh grader could self evaluate and self medicate).

The management and lack of a national integrated strategy regarding the SNS of anti-virals just grinds my gears every time I read articles about the subject. The US has to plan for a worst case scenario and they clearly are not. Let’s face the facts: the government couldn’t get the present SNS stockpile distributed nationally within a month, let alone get it in the hands of individuals who might need to medicate within the required 48 hours of exposure to a deadly virus.

Anybody who believes they will have access to Tamiflu or a vaccine on a timely basis at the start of an influenza pandemic, under the present national (mis) strategy, has a better chance at taking a picture of Bigfoot or finding flying saucer evidence.



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