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Bird Flu - Archives


February 2007

News Briefs
- The European Commission is forming a "swat team" to fight bird flu outbreaks in Europe.

- Bird flu in Nigeria - making the poor poorer.

- "The number of outbreaks around the globe and the number of human cases are certainly not going down,'' Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said in a telephone interview today. "The problem is still there and the longer the problem is there, the bigger it may get.''

- Reuters tracks bird flu's journey around the world.
February 28th, 2007

Bird Flu Blame Game
In Japan they're blaming rats. In Russia, a Moscow market is the cause. The city's chief veterinary officer says it could be bio-terrorism. In Britain the owner of a poultry farm which experienced a bird flu outbreak says he's NOT to blame. In Egypt a woman with the disease kept poultry in her home.
February 19th, 2007


A Good Look into Just How Stomach-Churning Pandemic Investing Can Be
There was a time when it seemed that it might be a good idea to invest in bird flu stocks. But with the pandemic panic abating, this no longer seems the case. CNN Money reports:

This time last year, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers gambled big. Amid all the headlines and hand-wringing over fears of a looming flu outbreak that could kill millions of people, the prominent venture capital firm formed a $200 million fund to invest in new pandemic drugs and vaccines.

As the KPCB Pandemic and Bio Defense Fund marks its first anniversary Friday, this much is clear: Investing in pandemic prevention is enormously risky, with the promise of mega-returns offset by the highly uncertain odds that a pandemic, despite the predictions, will sweep the world.

Kleiner Perkins won't disclose all of the companies that its fund has bankrolled, but at least two of them are publicly traded and offer a good look into just how stomach-churning pandemic investing can be.
February 15th, 2007

Young More Susceptible to Bird Flu

This is interesting:

The World Health Organization's (WHO's) latest analysis of human H5N1 avian influenza cases adds to previous evidence that young people are more susceptible to the virus and more likely to die of it than older people.

In examining 256 confirmed cases over 3 years, the WHO found that 89% of patients were younger than 40, and the case-fatality rate for patients older than 50 was 40%, versus 76% for 10- to 19-year-olds and 60% for all ages. The findings were reported in the Feb 9 issue of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record.

The agency said the reason for the skewed age distribution is unknown and does not appear to be entirely a result of the preponderance of young people in the affected countries.

February 15th, 2007


Guns for Doctors
Headline from The Times of London:

If bird flu grips the nation, doctors will need guns
February 12th, 2007


Media Guide
UNICEF Malaysia has produced a bird flu media guide:

According to the Guide, Malaysia’s success in preventing massive bird flu outbreaks can be attributed to the country’s ongoing efforts against the virus. By encouraging a continuum of media coverage, UNICEF hopes to engage the media as partners in accurately and responsibly reporting on avian influenza.

The Guide is divided into two parts:

Part 1 is entitled About the H5N1 Virus and Myth Busters and outlines facts about avian flu, information on the history and background of the virus, what precautions individuals can take to prevent infection and examines myths surrounding the virus.

Part 2, entitled Reporting Tips and Resources offers reporting tips and suggestions on possible pre-pandemic stories to write. It also includes a directory of resource people and a glossary of terms to aid in reporting.

February 9th, 2007


One OK, Another Being Tested
A vet being tested for possible bird flu infection has been cleared of the disease. But a second worker is now being tested.
February 8th, 2007


Tamiflu Booms
Roche Holding has reported a 33% jump in 2006 profits, from an 18% rise in sales.

Sales of Tamiflu, which nations around the world have been stockpiling to prepare for a possible flu pandemic, soared 68 percent last year to 2.63 billion francs (US$2.11 billion; euro1.63 billion), largely on government orders.

Since 2004, more than 75 countries have placed orders for pandemic stocks of the drug, which is seen as perhaps the best initial defense should the H5N1 strain of bird flu mutate into a form spread easily among humans.

The company said, however, that it expects Tamiflu sales to drop this year to between 800 million francs and 1.2 billion francs (US$642 million and US$963 million; euro496 million and euro744 million) as a result of competition from generics in the United States.

"Top-line growth and margins came in higher than expected, and that seems to be because of Tamiflu," said Karl-Heinz Koch, a pharmaceutical analyst at the Zurich-based private bank Vontobel.

February 8th, 2007


Uh Oh

A government vet who had been helping at the site of the British bird flu outbreak is now in hospital with "mild respiratory problems". Stay tuned.
February 7th, 2007

Always Look on the Bright Side
While conceding that "recession on a scale not seen since the 1930s is a possibility", the website finds some winners from the British bird flu outbreak, namely three drugs companies, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Acambis.

Meanwhile, "the UK poultry industry was today facing meltdown over the bird flu outbreak in England as the list of countries banning imports grew to at least six".
February 7th, 2007

Pandemic - Britain Getting Ready
Britain prepares for a human flu pandemic. Meanwhile, virus expert Professor John Oxford answers your questions.
February 5th, 2007


Nigeria - It's Official
The WHO's regular "Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza" report now contains one extra country - Nigeria.

Since late-2003, a total of 271 cases of human bird flu infection have been reported in 11 countries, with 165 deaths.

Vietnam has recorded 93 cases, with 42 deaths. Indonesia has recorded 81 cases, with 63 deaths.

February 5th, 2007

Bird Flu in the UK
The European Commission says tests have confirmed that the avian flu which killed 2,600 turkeys at a Suffolk farm is the H5N1 virus.
February 3rd, 2007


Bird Flu in Nigeria - Alarm and Shrugs
Did a Nigerian lady die of bird flu? According to WHO:

The government of Nigeria has announced the death from suspected avian influenza infection in a 22-year-old female from Lagos. She died on 16 January 2007. The mother of the 22-year-old died on 4 January with similar symptoms.

Preliminary tests on the samples from the 22-year-old were positive for influenza A/H5. Samples have now been sent to a WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza for confirmation. Results are expected shortly. No samples were taken from the mother. reports:

The confirmation by the federal government on Wednesday that a Nigerian woman who died recently in Lagos tested positive to H5N1 bird flu virus, has been challenged by the Vetenary Medical Association Nigeria [VMN] which described the test as inconclusive.

Similarly, the minister of Agriculture Mallam Adamu Bello admitted that the woman probably didn't die of bird flu as claimed, saying the result of the confirmatory test currently going on in Italy could prove otherwise.

Reuters headlines its own report: "Bird flu death alarms some Nigerians, others shrug"
February 3rd, 2007


You Can't Be Serious
Indonesia - where bird flu is more of a problem than anywhere else - isn't happy about the new Australian bird flu vaccine:

News this week that the Australian pharmaceuticals company CSL had developed a vaccine against the H5N1 bird flu virus was met with alarm by Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadillah Supari.

He says Indonesia is seeking intellectual property rights over the Indonesian strain of the virus on which the vaccine is based.

But CSL spokeswoman, Dr Rachel David, says it is not possible to "own" strains of bird flu.

Dr David also says the vaccine is not being developed for commercial purposes.

..."It's not something we can profit out of and in fact it's not something that we see as being a commercial exercise at all."

February 1st, 2007