Thursday, July 31, 2008

Au Sable River Dusk

Au Sable River Dusk
Originally uploaded by mtsn
I will be on vacation looking at scenes like this from today until August 10. I will update again on August 11 or August 12.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 29 Flu Update

Thai paper looks at recent reports (US and UK) of poor pandemic planning.

Meanwhile, Thailand is said to have four potential new cases, though this appears sketchy.

ProMed on the South Korean cat and the outbreak in Nigeria.

CIDRAP reports on the GAO report that states are looking for more guidance from the federal government on flu planning

Helen Branswell on Canadian research that will look at remote and isolated rural tribes to study how flu spreads. The thinking is that they are a better example because there are few contacts outside the tribe.

The government in West Bengal says it is taking steps to combat bird flu.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 28 Flu Update

Everyone who knows about 1918 knows that the mobility created by WWI probably played a role in spreading influenza. With that in mind, the fact that bird flu was found at an Olympic venue rings all kinds of alarm bells. Of course, it is the equestrian facility, not the track.

A cat in South Korea has bird flu.

There's also a new outbreak in Nigeria.

A medical anthropologist has written a novel about the bird flu called the Eye of the Virus.

Personal Finance Blog looks at bird flu risk.

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 27 Flu Update

Japanese scientists are making progress on how to block the replication of the flu virus.

Louisiana is increasing flu controls because it is on the Mississippi flyway.

The FAO steps in to help Myanmar.

New novel weaves pandemic into the narrative.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

No Update Today

Saturday, July 26, 2008

July 25 Flu Update

CIDRAP reports that bird flu was found in the markets of Nigeria.

EU has approved GSK's pre-pandemic vaccine.

CIDRAP writes that nursing homes are not ready for a pandemic.

British Turkey producer is trying to fix image damaged in part by avian flu.

Friday, July 25, 2008

July 24 Flu Update

The Federal vaccine allocation plan is basically the same, focusing on critical workers first.

Revere blogs this, noting that the policy puts the military second, and wonders why. (My note: this will get people going about whether the military is expected to "maintain order" during a pandemic).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

No Update Today

Events have conspired

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 22 Flu Update

Australian Sunshine Coast warned about pandemic if incorrectly.

The University of Michigan says more than half of nursing homes lack a plan for pandemic flu.

Ohio has taken a strong tact in TV ads to get the attention of the public on pandemic flu.

Here's a link to the actual spot. Not too bad, really.

Morman said visits to the Web site have more than tripled since the ads began. Funded by a $400,000 federal pandemic flu preparedness grant, the ads will begin running statewide Monday, July 28, and conclude Aug. 8, she said.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 21 Flu Update

Without any more links, just a quick note that the newspaper story that the death of 75 million Britons was "inevitable" is all over the web.

With its latest outbreak occuring outside the normal season, South Korea will monitor for bird flu year round.

Uganda got some World Bank money to fight bird flu.

Interesting blog post on bird flu from a man who moved away from Wisconsin to get away from the liberals (??)

The military in Hawaii is getting ready to fight the bird flu.

USA Today article sent by an alert reader. Notes that in a few short years we went from ravaging store counters of duct tape to yawning in the face of potential disaster.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 20 Flu Update

Britain's House of Lords hears a briefing on lifestyles, infectious disease and the "dysfunctional" WHO--overall, an alarming report that made headlines around the world.

Australia says this report was "unhelpful"

North Korea now claims to have a quick bird flu test.

Report from Thailand says the bird flu mutates every time it infects a human.

Australia article cites how large international religious celebrations often spread contagious disease including influenza.

Swabi Pakistan is bird flu free.

ProMed on the report from Vietnam that vaccinated poultry were getting bird flu. Note mod comment:

Viet Nam has opted for vaccination of poultry (including waterfowl) since 2005, with quite satisfactory results. However, it is known that vaccination cannot achieve disease eradication unless it is combined with effectively applied, severe biosecurity measures.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 19 Flu Update

ProMed on the suspected death in Indonesia.

Minalin, Philippines says it is ready for the bird flu season.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

July 18 Flu Update

CIDRAP on the recent death in Indonesia. Note typically unclear exposure route.

Education now going on in the Solomon Islands.

The Niagara region of Canada is planning for a pandemic, and it includes technology.

Nepal identifies areas as vulnerable to bird flu.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July 17 Flu Update

Relatives say a man died of bird flu in Indonesia.

In the news that is all over the place this morning, Vical says its DNA vaccine does stimulate sufficient immune response.

Two studies, reported by CIDRAP here, look at the reasons behind Indonesia's staggering fatality rate with H5N1. The ultimate question is this? Is it the virus, or is there something in that country's system that would mitigate the fatality rate in other countries, even if the exact same virus went to a pandemic level.

According to the second report, Indonesia, like most developing countries, has few primary or secondary care hospitals with the protocols, isolation rooms, or cardio-respiratory support equipment to treat patients critically ill with H5N1 influenza. "This is probably the largest single contributor to the high mortality recorded," says the report, written by Sardikin Giriputro, MD, and colleagues

Bird flu hits Vietnam, but with a twist---the birds were vaccinated against bird flu. Obviously, this will get people to wondering about whether this is tangible evidence of a virus mutating in a significant way.

Don't recall seeing this before, but this article appears to indicate that Turkey had seven animals cases in the first third of this year.

They are holding a flu summit in West Virginia.

A flu drill was held in Dalton, Georgia.

Like many states, Indiana is going to do a pandemic drill and flu shot drive at the same time.

Article from the Philippines details what author learned at flu training for journalists.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

July 16 Flu Update

New rules in Canada are going to restrict free ranges chickens, ostensibly to fight bird flu, but free-range farmers suspect commercial motives. (This is just the kind of human element that is difficult to build into pandemic planning).

The World Bank has pledged money to Haiti to fight bird flu.

Good example of how scientific research doesn't always fare so well through language and scientific literacy barriers.

Reuters story that Revere blogged yesterday on Indonesia's defense of stopping virus sharing.

Indiana paper looks back at the Spanish Flu in that country.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 15 Flu Update

Bird flu outbreak reported in southern Vietnam.

Reports says research from the Argonne national lab has identified the "dragon" protein which has the potential to be significant, as stated below.

This unexpected relationship between the two subunits could inspire a number of different therapies or vaccines for H5N1 that rely on muzzling the "dragon's" jaws with another molecule or chemical compound that would block the PB1 subunit's access to the PA site, according to Joachimiak. "If we can put a bit in the dragon's mouth, we can slow or even potentially someday stop the spread of avian flu," he said. "Since we are talking about a relatively small protein surface area, finding a way to inhibit RNA replication in H5N1 seems very feasible."

CIDRAP reports that Indonesia published an article in a medical journal on why it is withholding virus samples.

"If the world continues to operate in this way, the discrepancies will become wider and wider," the article says. "The poor will become poorer and the richer become richer. It is the responsibility of all nations to change this situation."
SE Idaho is conducting a "blog exercise" to test informing the public on bird flu.

Indiana is doing some pandemic planning, taking a hard look at the realities.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

July 14 Flu Update

The CDC lab that houses the bird flu virus in Atlanta lost power for an hour, believe it or not.

India going on "war footing" to fight bird flu.

US News and World Report on the supercomputer looking for new bird flu drugs.

The GAO looks at hospitals "surge planning," a key point in how a pandemic would be handled (CIDRAP)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards fund to the University of Michigan to study the Spanish Flu Pandemic.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday---No Post

On the road all day today, check back tomorrow.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 11 Bird Flu Update

The US worked with Tanzania to help improve its public health and bird flu response.

H5N1 can affect Bovine Calves.

Letter to the Editor in Cambodia reviews bird flu training going on there.

Japan has warned Nigeria about bird flu.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

July 11 Flu Update

After six months, a ban on the poultry trade is lifted in India.

CIDRAP says a Japanese study shows no psychological effect of Tamiflu on teens (there have been reports of it being linked to teen suicide).

In Wales, people are told that there could be 3,000 deaths a week.

Nepal says it is bird flu free.

South Dakota audience hears about the possibility of a bird flu pandemic.

Muscle Shoals AL is also preparing for a pandemic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 10 Flu Update

Terribly shocking news. Melanie (who has commented here), from Just a Bump in the Beltway, and one of the founders of the Flu Wiki has passed on unexpectedly. Revere and others post about it, here. Our condolences.

ProMed has a new report from Vietnam, and also a declaration that bird flu is endemic in Egypt.

China lifted a quarantine in Quandong.

More from Nature, and an editorial on the bird flu a few years on from its big bird flu issue.

CIDRAP on the story from Hong Kong on the waning avian vaccine. Also note that Egypt has belatedly filed some avian outbreaks going back a few months.

UWM scientists are contributing more work to identify the genetic structure of the virus.

More on work at Penn on a bird flu vaccine.

Indiana will be discussing its pandemic ethics plan coming up soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 9 Flu Update

Article covers DNA vaccines from a PharmTech perspective.

CIDRAP covers the Purdue story on problems in planning for a pandemic.

A message the researchers heard from all the counties was that flu patients would not be the only demand on healthcare organizations during a pandemic. Officials said other healthcare needs would continue, such as trauma, childbirth, and medical emergencies. Consequently, not all beds could be allocated to flu patients, and hospitals will need to take steps to prevent flu from spreading to other patients.

In the face of this reality, "Almost all counties were giving consideration to altered standards of care to stretch resources, but were wary of this option due to liability concerns and lack of statutory protection from malpractice claims, a concern heightened by lack of guidance from state and federal governments," the report states.

Cosmos (The Science of Everything) has long story about whether bird flu has passed.

There are other reasons to worry less about bird flu. The media has repeatedly said that a pandemic is 'overdue' or even 'long overdue'. This claim is not based on any virological dictum, but simply on the historical pattern of outbreaks – one every 10 to 15 years or so from 1918 to 1977 and then a pregnant pause until now. But in fact the longer H5N1 'tries', the less likely it is to succeed in adapting into a human-transmissible type.

Some scientists now believe H5N1 has had its chance. A virus is not like a volcano, where pressure may build up gradually, leading to an eventual eruption. And a continued non-outbreak doesn't make a future outbreak more likely or more deadly.

Effect Measure blogs this, too, noting that Nature is looking at its special bird flu issue three years ago. It was chilling--included a fictional blog from a healthcare professional during a pandemic.

Declan Butler, who writes for Nature, is back online with an article seemingly in response to the one above.

Although bird flu has since faded from the front pages, media coverage in fact remains sustained and high, as can be seen from a timeline search of the Google News archive.

Local committee in North Dakota is presenting is pandemic plan later today.

Dr. Osterholm is scheduled to give a speech in Colorado.

Finally, courtesy Revere, check out this HealthMap database of informaton on various diseases from around the world. Very interesting.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

July 8 Flu Update

Hong Kong has scaled back its bird flu alert with the absence of cases.

An article published recently in a medical journal says that the mutations needed for H5N1 to go H2H have been identified.

"The mutations needed for the emergence of a potential pandemic virus are likely to originate and be selected within infected human tissues," said Professor Dr Prasert Auewarakul from Mahidol University, Thailand. "We analyzed specific molecules called haemagglutinin on viruses derived from fatal human cases. Our results suggest new candidate mutations that may allow bird flu to adapt to humans."
Excellent Purdue study says that when fighting pandemic, we have to look at the people who are affected, and not merely the nation or the region.

"Most public health experts who are leading planning efforts for an influenza outbreak are focusing on specific geographic areas, usually counties, as defined by political lines," said George Avery, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology and member of the Purdue Alternative Care Site Planning Team. "This is problematic because if there is an outbreak, planners need to take into account the people and health-care systems that are or are not around them.

"Counties that border other states may experience nonresidents seeking treatment in their area, while other counties may be home to the only isolated hospital system in the region and can expect the population from other states to travel there for care. Health care, especially in a crisis, is not defined by county or state lines."

A Hong Kong expert says poultry vaccines are losing their effectiveness.

Australian vet joins bird flu team.

Philippine state says it is vulnerable to the bird flu.

Also from the Philippines, this article wonders how long the nation will remain untouched. (Note airport signs that inform visitors of the lack of bird flu.

Ghanan poultry farmers are urged to improve hygiene on their farms.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

July 7 Flu Update

Scientists are saying that closing the Navy Lab in Indonesia is a bad idea.

Big problems with egg prices in Bangladesh, as poultry farming has yet to resume.

Revere blogs Roche's plan to get businesses to stock up on Tamiflu. He thinks its good for businesses to do, but doesn't see why the government has to get involved.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tied up this morning

No post until tomorrow.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

July 5 Flu Update

For good reason, Australia expresses concern about whether Indonesia is going to announce its bird flu cases.

The US has a Naval Medical Research lab in Indonesia that has been involved in the fight against bird flu. Today, Indonesia is considering closing it because it does not benefit them.

Story about vet scientists studying bird flu to help people.

Tanzania is stepping up its fight against bird flu.

Interesting article says US could do more good by studying TB than bird flu.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

July 4 Flu Update

It appears that bird flu vaccines were tested on the homeless in Poland, and 21 of them died.

WHO would like to see a more regional approach to bird flu in East Africa.

Israeli editorial asks why more rapid action was taken for bird flu than AIDS.

Tamiflu and Relenza are said to be equally effective helping children.

Exotic Zanzibar has a partial poultry ban.

A professor in Kyoto says that he can make bird flu vaccine from ostrich eggs--the largest egg in nature.

Friday, July 04, 2008

No Post Today

Enjoy the holiday, everyone in the US.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 1 Flu Update

UC San Diego is working on some research that looks at promising future drug candidates.

UK leading vet agency says that recent events are a reminder of the risk of a global pandemic.

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology is now providing its issue papers for free, including on bird flu.

The Wall Street Journal asks why, if the US government wants to help during a pandemic, it doesn't just waive the requirement for a prescription to get Tamiflu.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

July 1 Flu Update

Blog at Discover magazine looks at the flu, and especially at H7's move toward human form.

Last week US scientists reported that H7 viruses from recent poultry outbreaks in North America are starting to bind the human form of sialic acid, and losing their ability to bind the bird form. Even worse, an H7 was even isolated from a man with the flu in New York in 2003 and it bound most effectively to the human form [New Scientist blog].

Sinovac vaccine trials hit phase II.

Diocese in UK is recognized for its pandemic plan that gives guidance for the role of faith communities in a pandemic.

Story covers UPenn study on how a new kind of vaccine provides cross-protection by "tricking" the immune system

Hong Kong has resumed live chicken sales.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June 30 Flu Update

Pacific Rim countries are preparing for bird flu exercises, right after the Olympics.

Australia is told--and not for the first time--that bird flu can't get there.

Immunologist and Nobel prize-winner Peter Doherty says although the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain has killed 240 people overseas, Australia's dry climate and isolation will help prevent the virus entering the country.

"It's not something we have to worry about," he said.

An organization of state health officers has released a report on protecting at-risk populations, because "disasters discriminate."

Japan's bird flu plans are described as "unclear."

CIDRAP on the Hong Kong market curbs.

CIDRAP best practices series reviews Minnesota's plans to communicate with people who speak limited English.