Bird Flu - Archives
December 14th - December
Health Organization has confirmed a further bird flu death in China, a
41-year-old woman from Fujian province. It is China’s seventh confirmed
case, and third fatality. Somewhat ominously, WHO reports:
Agricultural authorities so far have not been able to confirm the
presence of the H5 virus subtype in poultry in the vicinity of the patient’s
residence or place of work. Investigators have not been able to confirm any
direct contact between the patient and poultry prior to the onset of
illness. The investigation, however, is continuing and answers to these and
other questions are still being sought.
The Year of
Being Scared by Bird Flu
are writing their annual “that was the year that was” retrospectives, and
bird flu is getting lots of mentions.
MedPage Today, 2005 was “the Year of Being Scared of the Bird Flu. Could
the virus mutate into an efficient person-to-person transmission agent? Not
yet, but the warning signs are posted.”
Forbes writes: “It has yet to sicken a single American, but the
potential for a bird flu virus pandemic riveted the attention of health
officials and ordinary people in 2005, making it the year's top health news
Dump” – Bird Flu Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Target the Unwary
securities regulator NASD has issued an investor alert, “Bird
Flu Stock Scam Could Be Hazardous To Your Financial Health”:
The threat of bird
flu is fueling stock scams touting large gains from companies that claim to
be poised to capitalize on helping the world avoid a global pandemic. NASD
is issuing this Alert to warn investors that fax and email investment scams
may come your way trumpeting the promise of large gains for companies with
products and services aimed at fighting bird flu.
One fax claimed its
company "has the solution for tracking and containing the Bird Flu virus in
turn preventing it from spreading." Citing the enormous cost of fighting
avian flu, the fax stated the stock was "positioned to gain 250% or
more." The fax went on to urge investors not to miss out on a stock that was
"clearly missed by Wall Street."
press release coinciding with the alert,
NASD Vice President of
Investor Education John Gannon said: "This is an age-old pump-and-dump
scheme with a brand new disguise. Unfortunately, fraudsters are quick to
exploit every new crisis or catastrophe to peddle their get-rich-quick scams
to unsuspecting investors."
Developed in China
a breakthrough in China, with scientists there apparently developing a
new, super-Tamiflu. It is a drug that is said to be superior to Tamiflu in
treating humans with bird flu, yet costs one-third the price.
to the report:
Chinese drug was developed by a research group at the Academy of Military
Medical Sciences, which could not immediately be reached for comment.
'We have completed clinical experiments, and find it is more effective on
humans than Tamiflu,' the newspaper [China Daily] quoted Li Song, a leading
scientist in the academy's research group, as saying.
No details were given on whether any clinical tests had been conducted on
the drug and whether it had been approved for production or sale.
That, It’s Quite Safe
Free-Market News Network has published what it claims is “an analysis of the
side-effects from this medicine [Tamiflu], which may make it even less
appropriate for consumption.”
and pains, allergic reactions (sometimes leading to shock), asthma and
aggravation of pre-existing asthma, bronchitis, chest infection,
conjunctivitis, dermatitis, diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, ear
infections and problems, erythema multiforme, headache, hepatitis,
indigestion, liver problems, lymphadenopathy, nausea, nose bleed, rash or
rashes, runny nose, sinusitis, Stevens Johnson syndrome, symptoms of a cold,
tiredness, tummy pain, urticaria, and vomiting.
Acid from Discarded Christmas Trees
company has found
a novel use for discarded Christmas trees. It plans to extract shikimic
acid – the base ingredient of Tamiflu - from them. According to Biolyse
Pharma, “the trees contain shikimic acid in their pine, spruce and fir
authorities have determined that
chicken at a farm in rural NSW does not have bird flu. Earlier, the farm
had been placed under quarantine.
Australia the authorities have quarantined a farm in rural NSW after
concerns that a backyard chicken flock may have been exposed to bird flu.
It is the first time
Australian officials have isolated a property in response to concerns about
avian flu. In October inspectors quarantined 102 pigeons imported from
Canada which had been exposed to the virus. Three of the birds were
Peter McGauran today said the quarantining of the Wentworth property was a
precautionary measure after one of its chickens recorded a weak reaction to
an avian influenza test.
…Mr McGauran said
samples had been sent to the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory for
further testing. "While there is no evidence of any outbreak of avian
influenza on the property, it has been placed under quarantine as a
precautionary measure," he said. "This is consistent with Australia's
conservative approach to managing animal health and disease risks.”
Begin for Tamiflu Rival
Alabama biotech firm is “gaining on the front runner” in the race to
develop an effective anti-flu treatment, according to a CNN report.
is BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, and it has just received US Food and Drug
Administration approval to start human testing of its new drug, peramivir.
Should the tests
prove successful the drug could become an alternative to Tamiflu, the
medicine currently considered the leading treatment for bird flu. And the
effectiveness of that treatment has been called into question this week,
with a report in the New England Journal of Medicine that bird flu patients
died despite taking Tamiflu.
However, at the same time
Business Week is reporting that Sanofi Pasteur of France "is leading
the pack in the race to develop a vaccine that could help prevent an
Turkey Sales Remain Firm
fears didn’t seem to hurt
US turkey consumption this Thanksgiving. In the UK, where turkey is the
most popular Christmas dish, it also seems likely the impact of bird flu
will be muted, although some industry sources are reporting a slight move
towards roast beef.
supermarket chains have reported that turkey demand has held up well so far
this year but sales and prices are down at London's Smithfield market where
meat has been traded since the 12th century.
"Orders (for fresh
turkey) are down 35 to 40 percent. It is because of bird flu without a
doubt," said Smithfield meat trader Greg Lawrence, adding he mainly supplies
Chief Executive of the British Poultry Council, noted that only a small
proportion of turkeys were traded at the wholesale market in Smithfield with
most consumers buying from supermarkets or even direct from turkey farms.
"We don't think that
stories about bird flu in late October are going to influence any purchasing
decisions before Christmas," he said, noting the widespread media interest
in the bird flu virus which followed news it had reached eastern Europe in
late October had now died down.
Operations Target Illegal Tamiflu
Financial Times newspaper reports that health regulators around the
world have launched a wave of sting operations designed to stop increasing
numbers of illegal Tamiflu sales. In many cases, fake Tamiflu – generally
sourced from Asia – is involved. In other cases, genuine Tamiflu is being
sold, at inflated prices.
to the report:
The UK’s Medicines
and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Tuesday it had
found nearly 20 websites around the world illegally selling Tamiflu. It had
placed orders with several so it could analyse the drugs on offer and begin
prosecutions of those involved.
…The UK actions
mirror similar operations by the US, Sweden and other European nations. All
are co-operating with their counterparts in Singapore, South Africa and
The US Customs and
Border Protection service said on Tuesday it was continuing to impound
regular air freight deliveries to San Francisco of “generic Tamiflu” that
had been ordered over the internet by US customers. Since interceptions
began one month ago, it had seized 51 shipments.
along with supplies identified by Austrian and Dutch officials, appear to be
from the same source in China. The packets bear Chinese writing and are
accompanied by a crude letter from the internet supplier saying that drugs
from a generic supplier are being offered because of supply shortages at
Losing the Battle”
A man who
should know says the
bird flu outlook is grim:
Nabarro, avian-flu coordinator for the United Nations, said Monday that the
world is "losing the battle" in regard to avian flu in birds. "We are losing
the battle against this particular (avian-flu outbreak in birds and domestic
poultry). We must focus on stamping it out.
virus is slowly changing though genetic re-assortment or mutation. The
change is slow, but if this virus undergoes the change that leads to
sustained human-to-human transmission, then we have a major problem. Then we
probably will have the next human pandemic influenza. This is (a) serious
"Virologists who study these things say do not get complacent. It is quite
feasible that H5N1 could mutate. The fact that it has taken some years
should not lead you to believe that we are through the worst. We believe
that it is starting to spread into Africa."
Tamiflu Seized in US
Counterfeit Tamiflu from China has been seized by customs agents in San
The seizures of 51
packages marked "generic Tamiflu" began Nov. 26 and continued through last
week, Roxanne Hercules, spokeswoman for the U.S. Customs and Border
Protection agency, said Sunday. "They were actually in containers that
stated they were generic Tamiflu, but there is no generic Tamiflu, so that's
a pretty big tip off,'' said Hercules.
Bird Flu Vaccine Trials
report in the
Sun-Times about planned human experiments on a new anti-flu drug.
In an isolation ward
of a Baltimore hospital, up to 30 volunteers will participate this April in
a bold experiment: A vaccine made with a live version of the most notorious
bird flu will be sprayed into their noses.
high-reward" research, said Dr. Brian Murphy, who heads the NIH lab where
Dr. Kanta Subbarao is brewing the nasal sprays -- including one for a
different bird flu strain that appeared safe in the first crucial human
testing last summer. "It might fail, but if it's successful, it might
prevent hundreds of thousands of cases" of the next killer flu, Murphy said.
In a separate
Science, owned by Japan’s giant Kirin Brewery, says it has developed an
antibody that could prove effective in fighting bird flu.
New York Times, reporting on a survey in Salon.com, examines Intrade, a
kind of online futures market that has, apparently accurately predicted
election results, the selection of Pope Benedict XVI and the severity of
does it say about bird flu? That there is a 65% chance that someone in the
US will contract the virus by March.
“Better Than Tamiflu”
The boss of
Australian company Biota, which developed the Relenza flu drug, has claimed
that it is
superior to Tamiflu.
has not demonstrated the resistance that Tamiflu has and appears to be
efficacious in conditions where Tamiflu is not," he said.
More Tamiflu Deaths?
story, appearing on the
website – and, apparently, nowhere else - and sourced from Kyodo News
Service (one of the two big Japanese news agencies), says that two local men
have died after taking Tamiflu.
The Ministry of
Health, Labor and Welfare said Thursday that two men in their 50s and 80s
have died after taking the anti-flu drug Tamiflu either by developing a
serious skin disease or by kidney failure.
however, denied there are "serious concerns" about the safety of Tamiflu at
the moment, because the two men had been taking three other medicines such
as antibiotics or drugs to treat high blood pressure, which could cause
similar symptoms. The number of people aged 17 and above who died after
taking Tamiflu stands at 26 since drug importer Chugai Pharmaceutical Co
started selling Tamiflu in Japan in February 2001, ministry officials said.
in Two Years
bluntly that a bird flu pandemic will arrive in two years.
director of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences’ Influenza Institute,
Oleg Kiselyov, said that a global epidemic of bird flu will occur in two
years, Interfax reported Wednesday. “A pandemic will occur, and it will
occur in two years,” Kiselyov told journalists at a science workshop
conference in the Russian Agricultural Sciences Academy.
The US Food and Drug
Administration has warned nine companies to stop marketing fake bird flu
cures. These include capsules allegedly containing bacteria from dirt and
other immune system "boosters" and claiming to help prevent or treat bird
a report by Reuters:
"FDA is not aware of
any scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety or effectiveness of
these products for treating or preventing avian flu and the agency is
concerned that the use of these products could harm consumers or interfere
with conventional treatments," the agency said in a statement.
"The use of unproven
flu cures and treatments increases the risk of catching and spreading the
flu rather than lessening it because people assume they are protected and
safe and they aren't," said Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, acting FDA
commissioner. "I consider it a public health hazard when people are lured
into using bogus treatments based on deceptive or fraudulent medical
All of the companies
sell via Internet Web sites and the FDA complained about several claims,
including "prevents avian flu," "a natural virus shield," "kills the virus,"
and "treats the avian flu."
Most are promoted as
being "natural" or "safer" treatments that can be used in place of approved