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Bird Flu - Archives

United States

Not If, But When
Americans, get ready:

A bird-flu pandemic likely will reach U.S. shores in the next decade, Dr. Kristy Bradley, deputy state epidemiologist for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said Tuesday.

"Prior to the last decade or so, the thought was the influenza from birds would be mild or just cause conjunctivitis in humans," she said...

But "bells went off" in 1997 when 18 people in Hong Kong contracted bird flu and six died from it.

September 27th, 2007


Alaska in the News
I guess there's a whole heap of journalists up in Alaska right now covering official US efforts to track the spread of bird flu. Read reports from Bloomberg, Reuters and AP.

June 10th, 2006

US Tests Birds
Officials in the US have begun testing wild birds to check if bird flu has arrived. A new test gives a result within four hours.
June 7th, 2006

“The Hurricane Cannot Be Kept Offshore “

The White House has released its National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. Some comment from an AP dispatch:


The incremental plan already was drawing complaints that despite months of dire talk about the threat of a pandemic, the administration hasn't accomplished enough.


"Other nations have been implementing their plans for years, but we're reading ours for the first time now. These needless delays have put Americans at risk," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.


…The main defense: Screening travelers from affected countries and diverting or quarantining flights that arrive with possibly ill patients aboard.


But people can spread the flu for a full day before they show symptoms.


Trying to meet and quarantine lots of planes, "I'm dubious, No. 1, that just physically that's feasible. And, No. 2, I frankly wonder exactly what degree of effectiveness can be expected by that," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, an adviser to the government on flu vaccine.


People must understand that "the hurricane cannot be kept offshore," he added.

May 4th, 2006


Stop Worrying – For the Time Being

A bird flu expert doubts that the H5N1 virus will hit the US this year, at least not from migratory birds. The smuggling of infected birds presents a greater threat, he says. However: "If it doesn't come this year, don't relax, because it will eventually come."

May 3rd, 2006


No More Touchy-Feely

The people of Hawaii will need to greet one another with fewer kisses and hugs if a bird flu pandemic comes to the islands, according to the state’s health director.


"Here in Hawaii we're very touchy-feely people -- we kiss each other when we say hello," Dr. Chiyome Fukino told reporters on the sidelines of a state influenza summit. "What we do know is that in a pandemic, those simple social graces will need to be set aside for a period of time ... Don't kiss everybody all over the place."

April 27th, 2006


Pandemic Planning

The US government is finalising a program of counter-measures should a bird flu pandemic strike, according to Fox News, which adds: “Federal officials say the first case of bird flu could show up in the United States in the coming weeks or months as birds migrate from overseas.”


Among the measures: US money would be printed overseas and drive-through bird flu tests would be conducted in hospital parking lots. The large number of employees working from home would likely put pressure on internet capacity.

April 18th, 2006


Global Pandemic – Will It Start in Hawaii?
Health officials in Hawaii fear the state could become the launching place for a new bird flu pandemic:

The islands are vulnerable because they're
a tourism gateway for visitors from around the world, authorities said.


State health officials have launched an airport screening program, planned limited quarantines and amassed a supply of protective gear for doctors and nurses.


In May, the state will hold a seminar to help employers learn how a pandemic may affect their workers and businesses.


Dr. Chiyome Fukino of the Hawaii Health Department said a good number of Hawaii's visitors come from the Far East, where a large number of emerging diseases are originating.

April 11th, 2006


Prepare for Pandemic

American politicians are warning citizens to start preparing for the arrival of bird flu:


"When you go to the store and buy three cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed. When you go to the store to buy some milk, pick up a box of powdered milk, put it under the bed," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. "When you do that for a period of four to six months, you are going to have a couple of weeks of food. And that's what we're talking about."


And Reuters reports:

U.S. government is treating avian flu as a scourge that will inevitably reach the United States and is preparing for the arrival of the deadly virus, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said on Tuesday.


However, according to an AFP dispatch, a pandemic is not looming:


"The virus has changed -- that's what viruses do for a living, but there is no evidence to show that it has mutated into a form that could cause a pandemic in humans," [WHO Asia Pacific spokesman Peter] Cordingley said.


Frederick Leung, dean of science at the Hong Kong University microbiology labs that have played a pivotal role in unravelling the secrets of the virus, agreed.


"We are no closer to a pandemic at the 100-death stage than we were at the first death," said Leung.

March 15th, 2006


Bird Flu Will Hit US This Year, Pandemic to Follow – UN Official’s Warning

US bird flu official David Nabarro has said he expects migrating birds to bring bird flu to Alaska this spring, and that within six months it will have spread to the lower 48 states.


“There will be a pandemic sooner or later,'' Nabarro said during a news conference today at the UN. “It could start any time. We have a virus capable of replicating inside humans. We have a virus that humans are not resistant to. We have a virus about which we don't understand everything. It is at this stage of a pandemic alert that we have the luxury of being able to be prepared.''


Meanwhile, Director General Bernard Vallat of the Organisation for Animal Health has warned that Australia, Canada and the US stand a “very high” risk of being hit by H5N1.

March 9th, 2006


Coming Soon – to a Flock near You

It is “just a matter of time” until bird flu infects wild birds in the US, and possibly poultry flocks as well, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

March 2nd, 2006


Bush Plan Announced

President Bush has announced a $7.1 billion program to combat bird flu. According to the BBC, the main points are:


  • $1.2bn for the government to buy enough doses of the vaccine against the current strain of bird flu to protect 20 million Americans
  • $1bn to stockpile more anti-viral drugs that lessen the severity of the flu symptoms
  • $2.8bn to speed the development of vaccines as new strains emerge, a process that now takes months
  • $583m for states and local governments to prepare emergency plans to respond to an outbreak


Effect Measure is not impressed:


The threat of a pandemic is serious. This plan isn't serious. It's a distraction to divert attention from Miers, Scooter, Iraq, Katrina and all the other crap Bush has served up. Watch the birdies (they might have the flu) while the other hand is stripping you bare and handing your possessions over to Big Pharma, Halliburton and Big Oil. That's a disgrace.


November 2nd, 2005


Chiron to Provide Vaccine Stockpile

The US government has awarded a $62.5 million contract to pharmaceuticals company Chiron to provide a stockpile of H5N1 flu vaccine, for use in the case of an outbreak.


Reuters describes the vaccine as “a ‘pre-pandemic’ formulation that Chiron and other companies have been working on for more than a year now, Chiron said. Doctors and health officials hope it will be useful as a ‘priming dose’ that would help jump-start an immune response to be fine-tuned by a second vaccine.”


Last month, the US government awarded a $100 million contract to European drug company Sanofi-Aventis for bird flu vaccine.  And yesterday the US Senate voted to provide nearly $8 billion in funding in fiscal 2006 to stockpile anti-flu vaccines and other medicines.

October 28th, 2005

Rapid Response in China and the US

The US Food and Drug Administration has formed a Rapid Response Team to ensure that anti-viral drugs are available in the event of a flu pandemic. The Team will be able to fast-track a complete new drug application in six to eight weeks.


The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has announced a new rapid response policy for reporting cases of bird flu – they must be reported to provincial authorities within two hours; and, after confirmation, the provincial veterinary bureau must report to the ministry within an hour.

October 25th, 2005