Bird Flu - Archives
December 1st - December
Cause This Woman’s Severe Reaction?
It has just been revealed that a
given the anti-flu drug Tamiflu last January developed -
30 minutes later - symptoms similar to those recorded by patients in Japan.
Twelve of the Japanese patients later died.
Lianne Esposito (photo) of Cape Coral, was prescribed Tamiflu at an
emergency medical clinic to combat flu. Within 30 minutes of taking the
first pill she felt her heartbeat racing and she was gasping for breath. She
spent the night in hospital. Doctors told her she’d suffered an adverse
reaction to Tamiflu, which is currently being touted as the best drug
against bird flu.
widely prescribed as an anti-flu medication in Japan – far more than
anywhere else - and the past month has seen a series of revelations there
about adverse reactions from patients, including
two teenage suicides. However, so far both the US
Food and Drug Administration and the
Japan Pediatric Society have been unable to establish any connection
Shares in Tamiflu's
producer Roche Holding and in its Japanese partner Chugai Pharmaceutical
fell sharply when the Japanese deaths were first reported.
Edmonton Journal in Canada is out to terrify us. Its headline is
“Survival Strategies: Stock up and steel yourself for 'societal
disruption',” and underneath is a photo of a woman in a face mask. A lengthy
article suggests we should panic early.
It starts with
a snapshot of life today for Hans Machel:
so alarmed by the swelling mountain of research warning of an influenza
pandemic that the University of Alberta earth sciences professor has enough
food, water and emergency supplies to hole up at home for two weeks.
includes gasoline stored safely in his garage and a 14-day supply of Tamiflu
in his fridge, medicine that can ease influenza's aches and coughs.
common sense," Machel says. "If half or even just a third of the population
is ill, so ill they can't perform their job -- take half the people out of
general society, gas stations, banks, grocery stores -- society as we know
it will go belly up."
Cooper, chief economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns, describes what might happen
at the first sign of the pandemic:
worried shoppers will empty store shelves of emergency supplies such as
bottled water, canned food and generators.
will rush pharmacies for essential medications and medical products such as
insulin, she says in an October report on pandemic influenza titled “Don't
Fear Fear or Panic Panic: An Economist's View of Pandemic Flu.”
today's global supply chain, shortages would soon develop," Cooper writes.
To preserve supplies, shoppers may face rationing.
we will wait for this highly contagious disease, popping up like weeds
around the world as travellers spread the virus, to make its way here.
all. Then panic.
unsettling report from the
Sunday Times in the UK:
A VIETNAMESE doctor
who has treated dozens of victims of avian flu claims the drug being
stockpiled around the world to combat a pandemic is “useless” against the
Dr Nguyen Tuong Van
runs the intensive care unit at the Centre for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi
and has treated 41 victims of H5N1. Van followed World Health Organisation
(WHO) guidelines and gave her patients Tamiflu, but concluded it had no
place no importance on using this drug on our patients,” she said. “Tamiflu
is really only meant for treating ordinary type A flu. It was not designed
to combat H5N1 . . . (Tamiflu) is useless.”
has reported its first bird flu outbreak. It is still not known if it is the
H5N1 type. Four chickens in
eastern Romania have been diagnosed with the H5 strain of bird flu.
New York Times wonders if China is concealing bird flu deaths, just
as it did during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Scientists have long
been mystified by the low number of cases in humans reported in China, which
has such a severe bird flu problem that it recently announced plans to
vaccinate 14.2 billion chickens, geese and ducks. Far smaller countries,
with less severe bird flu outbreaks, have reported many more human cases.
newspaper quotes a WHO official as stating that the organization did not
believe that China was deliberately trying to mislead, but, rather “systems
to diagnose a virus-like bird ailment were often poorly developed and
underfinanced in the rural areas with the most cases.”
Nevertheless, the article goes on to state:
In a recent
editorial, Hu Shuli, the outspoken editor of “Caijing,” China's most
prestigious investigative magazine, complained that local officials had
stymied her journalists' attempts to investigate the death, possibly from
bird flu, of a 12-year-old girl in Hunan.
"The situation has
improved immensely over what we witnessed in the early days of the SARS
epidemic in 2003, when the question of the virus's very existence was deemed
a state secret," she said. "But if we want to further improve the situation,
we must also acknowledge that officials still are not open and efficient
enough in disclosing virus information to the public."
the international spread of bird flu have complained that China has not
shared information about its experiences with the disease, although they say
the situation has improved lately.
Still, while Vietnam,
Indonesia and Thailand have provided international specialists with samples
of viruses from each bird flu outbreak, China has not shared such material.
Should I Worry?
columnist Camilla Cavendish
wonders if she is over-reacting to the bird flu scare.
started to wonder whether I was getting a bit bird-brained about all this
when I found myself surfing the web to buy Tamiflu…Humans are not rational
beings, of course. And what, in any case, is a rational response to a small
but real probability of something truly awful happening? Should we now lay
siege to spice shops and Indian restaurants, since the main ingredient in
Tamiflu is star anise? The medics are no help; they seem entranced by
visions of apocalypse.
….It is deeply
irritating to be panicked by institutions that could do very little if bird
flu struck, but that are simultaneously talking up the risk and failing to
do what they should. In the US, an H5N1 vaccine is being tested that might
help if the virus mutates — but here our ministers still cannot get their
heads round how our factories could ever make enough. Only a few years ago,
another devastating virus was predicted. It was called the Millennium Bug.
Everyone had a contingency plan, but none was needed. It may be our duty as
mothers to worry — but not quite so much.
“Didn’t Cause Japanese Deaths”
Pediatric Society has issued a statement declaring that it can find no link
between Tamiflu and the deaths of 12 Japanese children who took the drug.
According to the Society:
The symptoms observed
in the 12 cases could also be seen in other patients who were not given the
drug….The group also said that it was possible that the children's influenza
had worsened a separate underlying medical condition, leading to the deaths.
findings come weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also
concluded that Tamiflu was not connected to the deaths.
Ministry issued a warning in mid-November that Tamiflu may induce "strange
behavior" after reporting that two teenage boys died shortly after taking
The society said it
saw no need to issue any fresh warnings regarding the drug. However, it
recommended that doctors continue to take precautions when administering
Tamiflu to patients and monitor them for side effects.
Blood Go Cold
investment firm Citigroup has issued a bird flu report for Australian
investors, recommending that in the event of a pandemic they sell shares in
companies that depend on people gathering in public places - such as
shopping centre operator Westfield, casino owner PBL and betting shop
operator Tabcorp – and in airlines and tourism companies. These should be
replaced by the shares of companies that will benefit if people are forced
to stay at home, such as phone companies, media companies and transportation
allows The Australian newspaper to indulge in some business bashing. Under
the headline “Outcry
Over Bird Flu Hit List” it publishes the comments of a “business
ethicist,” John Sweeney:
"This makes your
blood go cold," said Mr Sweeney, leader of the Edmund Rice Business Ethics
Initiative. Mr Sweeney also said that market behaviour may need to be
regulated in the event of a bird flu pandemic.
newspaper also quotes a fund manager:
James Thier, who
oversees a $380 million portfolio at Australian Ethical Investment, said
Citigroup should have kept its advice to "positive stocks" like vaccine
makers and pathology. "These people are looking at avian flu and saying that
these are potential winners for us. They are looking at the negative side,"
Mr Thier said. "But this needs to be approached from a positive perspective
rather than saying, 'How can we profit from millions of deaths?'."
Indonesian Health Ministry has announced
death – the country’s eighth – from bird flu.