Bird Flu - Archives
March 22nd - March 31st,
A Deadly Quarter
This March quarter just
ending has probably been the
deadliest three months since the current bird flu outbreak began in
December 2003, according to a lengthy round-up in the Bloomberg news wire.
If the World Health Organization confirms that two recent deaths in Egypt
were the result of bird flu, then the total deaths for the quarter will
climb to 31.
Gumballs – the New
Source of Shikimic Acid
Scientists in the US
report that the fruit known as gumballs, from the sweetgum tree, contains
shikimic acid, the raw ingredient of Tamiflu. The tree grows throughout
the US, and is especially common in southern states. Until now, the anise
spice plant has been the main source of shikimic acid. Nevertheless,
scientists have also developed artificial shikimic acid, and it is expected
that this will increasingly be used to make Tamiflu, obviating the need for
anise and other natural base materials.
The Avian Flu Index
I didn't know about this. A US fund management advisory firm, Trend
Macroanalytics, has created a stock market "avian
flu index", based on 17 stocks in the health care sector. These include
Embrex, Hemispherx, BioCryst and Generex. The index has more than doubled
since August last year, and is up 40.5% in 2006. You can read more about the
March 30th, 2006
Bird Flu Unites, Divides
A week ago we learned
that bird flu fears were leading to a
rare display of cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian
authorities. Now comes news that Indonesia is
holding up aid it was to receive from Australia to combat bird flu,
because it is unhappy that Australia has granted asylum to refugees from
The Asia Pacific branch
of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has launched a new website -
Avian Flu: It’s Your Fault.
According to the site:
When we asked nicely, you didn’t listen. We spent years exposing the
cruelty of factory farms and the dangers of eating fat-, cholesterol- and
drug-laden animal flesh. We appealed to your sense of compassion, but you
didn’t care enough to make the switch to a cruelty-free diet. And most of
you ignored the warnings about animal-borne diseases such as mad cow and
Now we face a new
threat, avian flu, which seems likely to make mad cow and SARS look like a
head cold….Why do we face this grave threat? Because every time you buy a
bucket of fried chicken, every time you eat an egg, every time you choose to
eat any animal products, you fuel the animal agriculture industry and bring
the world one step closer to catastrophe.
Here are the facts:
There would be no avian flu if humans didn’t bring birds into the world for
the sole purpose of slaughtering and eating them. History shows that each
and every pandemic within the last 100 years arose because of animal
Check out an excellent
website, Influenza Report,
which bills itself as “a medical textbook that provides a comprehensive
overview of epidemic and pandemic influenza.” Chapters of the book already
on the site are: Influenza 2006, Avian Influenza, Virology, Pathogenesis and
Immunology, Pandemic Preparedness, Vaccines, Laboratory Findings, Clinical
Presentation, Treatment and Prophylaxis and Drugs. More are promised.
Good News for Animal
Surely this will put a
dent in mink coat sales – Swedish vets have found a
with bird flu.
This Is Sad
India’s Financial Express reports a “suicide
spree” by poultry farmers, reeling from the impact of bird flu.
Worldwide Bird Flu Angst
The only bird flu in
has been detected in wild birds, not in domestic poultry. Nevertheless,
chicken sales have plummeted 75% this month. Yesterday, television stars and
200 children in chicken costumes took part in a Chicken Fest, with free
chicken dishes, to revive sales. Last month, Bollywood stars performed
similar duties throughout
Meanwhile, consumers in
Pakistan are cutting back on chicken dishes over fears that bird flu
vaccines being administered to the birds will cause hazardous side effects.
the Three Owls bird sanctuary has seen a sharp reduction in visitor numbers,
due to bird flu fears.
Signs of the Times in Canada
I don't know if this is a big deal or not, but it's certainly a sign of the
times. The Greyhound bus company in Canada says it will
stop transporting live birds, animals and insects, due to the threat of
March 25th, 2006
Let Them Die
Tough talk from the Edmonton Sun:
To prevent the
collapse of health care during an influenza pandemic, doctors shouldn't
bother treating those seriously ill with the virus because they're going to
die anyway, says a local physician.
"I don't think health
care is ever going to be able to deliver the resources that are required ...
in the middle of a crisis," says Dr. Louis Francescutti, associate professor
at the University of Alberta's department of public health sciences.
"You can't build that
much capacity in the system to deal with (an influenza pandemic)," he told
If 60% of those
infected with influenza are expected to die, health-care officials should
withhold treatment from those who aren't likely to survive, says
"Don't try and do
anything heroic," he says. "Those people should be isolated and made
comfortable but let them die because they're going to die."
Perhaps it sounds
cold-hearted but Francescutti says he's just being realistic. "It's called
triage. You've got limited resources. You'd better use them as efficiently
Bird Flu Probably in
bird flu has spread to the Gaza Strip. In what Reuters describes as “a
rare show of cooperation,” Israel is conducting the tests for bird flu on
behalf of the Palestinian Authority. An Israeli business website reports
gefilte fish sales are rising, in advance of Passover, with poultry
Bird Flu – Latest Threat
to Endangered Mammals
Here’s something new.
The United Nations Environment Program has warned that bird flu could pose a
endangered mammal species, including tigers and leopards.
One Hundred Deaths
The World Health
confirmed what was already assumed – that the deaths of five people in
Azerbaijan brings the number of bird flu deaths worldwide to more than 100,
since the current outbreak began at the end of 2003. Meanwhile,
fears a third case. And a
Punishment from God,
Israeli rabbi has
blamed the country’s flu outbreak on election campaign ads by left-wing
Israeli parties calling for the legalization of gay marriage
“The Bible says that
God punishes depravity first through blights on animals, and then on
humans,” David Basri, a top kabbalist, was quoted as writing this week in an
A major stockbroker is
advising clients to start adjusting their portfolios in readiness for the
arrival of bird flu in the US. According to Britain’s
Investment bank Bear
Stearns has advised investors to start dumping airline and retail stocks in
favour of blue-chip utilities as a hedge against bird flu, warning that a
full human pandemic of the H5N1 virus could set off the worst global stock
market crash since the 1930s.
In the first detailed
study of its kind, the US bank suggests buying Scottish Power, biotech
companies such as Amgen and Medimmune, and the US health group St Jude
Medical Inc, citing them as the sort of companies that would hold up well or
even rise in the first phase of a pandemic.
"We believe the
imminent arrival of bird flu in the United States will bring this
potentially devastating disease back into the limelight," said the report.
If bird flu turns out to be a 'worst event in 100 years' then extreme risk
analysis suggests it could push the market down 46pc over a 12-month period.
"We believe investors should consider a basket of stocks to inoculate their
portfolio from this source of risk," it said.
Any stock slide would
most likely be followed quickly by a V-shaped recovery, creating a rare
chance to snap up shares at super-cheap prices.