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Bird Flu - Archives


July 1st - July 31st, 2006

It's Your Fault

Thailand is blaming Laos for the re-appearance of the H5N1 virus.
July 31st, 2006


Bird Flu Reappears to Haunt Indochina

Needed 500 million dollars to fight bird flu

India to claim bird flu-free status next month

Indonesian sleuths go after bird flu

Asian officials make pact to tackle bird flu
July 29th, 2006


Thai Death Confirmed
The World Health Organization has confirmed the death in Thailand of a 17-year-old youth from bird flu. It is Thailand's first reported case of bird flu human infection in 2006. Thailand has now reported a total of 23 cases of human infection, of which 15 have been fatal. Reuters provides a timeline of 2006 bird flu developments.
July 27th, 2006


Inexplicable Flu-Like Symptoms
A new mini-series:

Tiffani Thiessen and Faye Dunaway will try to save the world in "Pandemic," a four-hour mini-series set to air on the Hallmark Channel next summer.

After inexplicable flu-like symptoms kill a young man aboard an airliner en route to Los Angeles from Australia, Thiessen's character, a doctor at the Centers for Disease Control, must race against the clock and across the globe to find Patient Zero as the virus spreads.

July 26th, 2006

Tamiflu Vs Relenza - Is It All In The Packaging?
BCP Confidential writes:

I can find no clinical evidence that Tamiflu--one of the two main pharmaceutical weapons against an epidemic or pandemic of Type A influenza--is substantially more effective than its competitor Relenza.

I can find abundant evidence, however, that Switzerland's Roche has much better packaging for Tamiflu, and that it is therefore (a lot) more expensive than GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza. If this isn't a business school case study in the importance of packaging, it surely will be.

July 26th, 2006

This Is Unfortunate
Thailand has been struck again by bird flu. It's still not clear if it's H5N1. If it is, it'll be the first outbreak in the country in nearly nine months.
July 25th, 2006

Miracle Survivor
In Indonesia a "miracle" survivor of bird flu has been released from hospital.

July 25th, 2006

Indonesia - Getting Worse, and Apathetic
This report in the New York Times says it all:

Indonesia is about to surpass Vietnam as the country hardest hit by avian flu. And while Vietnam has not had a single human case or poultry outbreak this year, public health officials and experts say the situation in Indonesia is likely to get worse.

And here's the Jakarta Post:

News that Indonesia has surpassed Vietnam in its number of bird flu deaths is receiving an indifferent response from the public, as international agencies scramble to find ways to contain the disease.

...Eka Faradhila, a 27-year-old who regularly patronizes an American fried chicken chain restaurant, said she did not care whether the country's bird flu toll ranked the lowest or the highest in the world.

"All I'm wondering is when we'll stop talking about it," Eka said Wednesday.

"There are other diseases that are more life-threatening, like dengue and typhoid. The government cannot stop even these illnesses, so why worry about bird flu, which has killed 42 people?" she added.

July 22nd, 2006


Pandemic Preparation
W. Smith Chandler, an occupational medicine physician, advises employers on steps to take in preparing for a bird flu pandemic:

- Social distancing (that is, staying away from other people in the workplace). Chandler recommends that at least six feet of separation be maintained among employees. The federal government recommends at least 3 feet.

- Social isolation (that is, staying at home). Chandler said social isolation is more effective than social distancing.

- Promote thorough and correct hand washing. He said employers may have to require hand washing.

- Purchasing alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

- Decontaminate surfaces with commercial disinfectants that kill other viruses.
July 19th, 2006

Grim Milestone Approaches for Indonesia
WHO has confirmed Indonesia's 41st human bird flu death. This is just one less than the total for Vietnam, which currently is the country with the most deaths. And reports from Indonesia say the country's 42nd death has occurred, though this has yet to be confirmed by WHO.
July 17th, 2006


Uh Oh
Bloomberg reports:

U.S. inspectors are probing the disappearance of four boxes of goose intestines smuggled from China, where bird flu is spreading.
July 15th, 2006


Not Before Time
Indonesian authorities have transferred the official in charge of animal health.

An agriculture ministry spokesman said Sjamsul Bahri's departure was part of a routine rotation of personnel.

But because Mr Bahri was closely involved in handling the outbreak, there is speculation that the worsening crisis contributed to his transfer.

Indonesia has been accused of not doing enough to stop bird flu spreading.

Meanwhile, an Indonesian official has called for more international aid to help fight bird flu in his country. But the country does not seem to be helping its cause with its tardiness in releasing a WHO report into the recent "cluster" cases of bird flu within a family group.
July 14th, 2006


China - A Long History of Cover-Ups
A strange story from China. A goose farmer has been jailed after - correctly - reporting a bird flu outbreak. Full details are not clear, but Reuters says:

"The defendant used measures such as fabricating facts and hiding truth to swindle public and personal property ... so he should be punished for two crimes," Xinhua quoted the prosecution as saying.

Chinese media reported last month that China was considering fines for media outlets that report emergencies, such as riots, natural disasters and outbreaks of disease such as SARS or bird flu, without authorization.

China has a long history of covering up emergency incidents, and news blackout are regularly imposed by sensitive propaganda officials nervous about the effects of news reports on the image of the ruling party.

July 12th, 2006


Expanding in Africa
Bird flu springs many surprises. Usually they're unpleasant, but a happy surprise - confounding many experts - has been the paucity of H5N1 outbreaks in Africa. This could change.

Yahoo News reports:

While avian influenza has been successfully checked in Western Europe and much of Southeast Asia apart from Indonesia, it is still expanding in Africa and will remain a threat for years to come, FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik told a high- level meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva today.

...Mr. Harcharik cited difficulties in enforcing appropriate control measures such as culling, farmer compensation and checks on animal movements in African countries. Another complication was illegal trade in poultry.

"Until such trade is effectively checked by stronger official veterinary authorities, and until better surveillance, alert-response, diagnostics and reporting is achieved, the risk will remain with us," Mr. Harcharik said.

July 11th, 2006


Bird Flu - Get Used to It
Reuters reports:

Europeans should get used to a seasonal pattern of bird flu affecting poultry as the lethal H5N1 strain of the disease is highly likely to reappear in the near future, a senior EU health official said on Friday.

Meanwhile, bird flu is confirmed in Spain.
July 8th, 2006


Lessons from Bird Flu
The Discover website offers five lessons from bird flu:

1. New pathogens can incubate slowly, then change rapidly.

2. Diseases spread in ways researchers don't fully understand.

3. Countries most vulnerable to outbreaks are often the ones least able to deal with them.

4. We need better surveillance.

5. We are at the mercy of viral evolution.
July 6th, 2006


Another Tamiflu Suicide in Japan?
Tamiflu is widely prescribed in Japan for flu sufferers, and some months back came reports of a series of mystery deaths - including several suicides - from patients who had taken the drug. Now, we have another report:

A junior high school boy plunged to his death on Monday evening after taking the controversial "tamiflu" drug, which has been blamed for producing dangerous side-effects, police said.

At around 5:50 p.m. on Monday, a passer-by found a boy lying face-down in the parking lot of a prefectural apartment complex in the Onaga district of Tomigusuku, local police said. He was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The boy has been confirmed to be a 12-year-old, first-year junior high school student living in a sixth-floor condominium in the complex.

His family said the boy took tamiflu at around noon on Monday because he had a high fever. However, after his fever did not decline, he took an anti-febrile drug later in the day.

Some people who have taken tamiflu have shown irregular behavior such as sleep-walking. However, the causal relationship between the drug and such behavior has not been proven.

July 5th, 2006


Ostriches Culled in South Africa
South African authorities have culled 60 ostriches on bird flu concerns. However, H5N1 is not suspected.
July 4th, 2006


Biota Shares Jump
Shares in local Melbourne company Biota have surged on reports that US authorities will boost holdings of the company's Relenza flu drug.
July 4th, 2006


China - More H5N1
A new wave of bird flu has hit China, as experts grapple with reports that a man died of the virus in 2003, two years earlier than any human infections had officially been reported.
July 3rd, 2006


Bird Flu Vaccine - 10 Years Away
A "viable" bird flu vaccine could be 10 years away, according to experts at a bird flu summit in Paris.

Vaccine researcher Dr. David Fedson, a former professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, said H5N1 was proving very difficult to grow in culture, according to a BBC report. Researchers were also finding it tough to stimulate an immune system response in humans that would be strong enough to defend against the virus, he said.

"H5N1 is so poorly immunogenic and replicates so poorly that we could immunize globally, with six months of production, about 100 million people," Fedson told the BBC. Compared to the 300 million doses of seasonal flu manufactured each year, the number would be far too small. "From a public health point of view this is catastrophic," he said.

July 3rd, 2006

Bird Flu - Dying Young
The latest study from WHO is not encouraging. Some key points:

- Bird flu tends to kill younger people, mirroring the pattern of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. The median age of confirmed cases is 20 years. The fatality rate is 56%, but among patients aged 10 to 19 years it is 73%.

- The virus is now considered endemic in poultry in some parts of the world, while continuing to spread to birds in new areas.

- Fatalities from H5N1 have almost tripled this year.

- While cases have occurred all year round, the epidemiological curve of H5N1 cases has peaked during the cooler periods in the Northern Hemisphere, suggesting an upsurge in cases in late 2006 or early 2007.

- The risk of the virus evolving into a more transmissible agent in humans remains high.
July 1st, 2006