Bird Flu - Archives
November 13th - November
Happening in Japan?
we keep hearing reports of deaths or strange behavior in Japan from people
who have taken Tamiflu. A week ago the
Japanese Health Ministry revealed that two teenagers apparently
committed suicide after taking Tamiflu. Now come reports of a
series of other cases, forcing the US Food and Drug Administration to
An FDA advisory panel
Friday said that Tamiflu is safe and apparently unrelated to the deaths of
12 Japanese children who took the drug. The Food and Drug Administration
panel did suggest adding warnings about possible serious skin conditions,
and said the FDA should review the drug safety profile again in a year. But
by a unanimous vote, they said there was no evidence to link the drug to the
deaths or to serious psychiatric events in children.
The 12 deaths in the
past 13 months included one suicide, four cases of sudden death and four
heart attacks. Other deaths involved asphyxiation, pneumonia and acute
pancreatitis. There have also been 32 cases of psychiatric abnormalities,
including delusions, hallucinations and delirium, reported in children who
had taken Tamiflu. Thirty-one of the cases involving psychiatric episodes
occurred in Japan. Two of the psychiatric cases involved teenagers who
jumped from second-floor windows after taking two doses of the drug.
"In many of these
cases, a relationship to Tamiflu was difficult to assess because of the use
of other medications, presence of other medical conditions, and/or lack of
adequate detail. The level of detail in these reports was highly variable
and determining the contribution of Tamiflu to the deaths was difficult," an
FDA summary said.
According to a report in
safety committee of the European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA) has also
requested information from the drug's manufacturer Roche.” The reports have
sharp dip in the share price of Chugai Pharmaceutical, which markets
Tamiflu in Japan.
Where are all the bird flu books? I asked last week. I got an email
from Dawn Meier
in Sheridan, Oregon:
I have had a "bird
flu" book out since 2003, before the current pandemic scare. Mine is not
full of advice, but a poignant story of one town and how they coped with the
influenza of 1918. Where are all the bird flu books? Just waiting to be
I have tried to
peddle my book since 2003 and finally self-published “A Bird Named Enza.”
After I sold a few
hundred books, I put it online for free.
accomplishment from this book is one high school here in Oregon that is
reading “A Bird Named Enza” as part of their English curriculum. I go speak
to the kids two times a year. These high school students are at least well
aware of current events by reading my book.
I have been trying in
the past year to find a publisher that will publish my book at a more
reasonable price than self-publishing on-demand prices of $12.95. I want
more schools to be able to afford to purchase the book. So the books are out
there, just not being considered for publication.
You can read “A Bird
Named Enza” here.
Bird Flu –
travel advice is at the
website. In summary, it says:
time, avian influenza activity continues to persist in Thailand, Vietnam,
Indonesia, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkey, Romania and Croatia.
In fowl, past outbreaks have been reported in Thailand, the People’s
Republic of China, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea (North Korea), South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, and
Human cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) have been reported in China,
Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Most human cases have been
caused by direct contact with infected fowl. Human-to-human transmission,
although rare, is suspected to have occurred in some of the documented
Bird Flu Humor on the Internet – A Top Ten List
jokes are all over the internet. Here are my favorites, compiled in the form
of a Top Ten list.
Big Bird Quarantined for
Avian Flu, at Humor Gazette, and
Tweety Dead of Bird Flu, at The Spoof.
PLANS TO MAKE BIRDS OBESE: Would Slow the Spread of Avian Flu, President
Asserts. An article in the Borowitz Report.
The Bird Flu Shop is a
commercial enterprise marketing T-shirts, mugs, calendars, greeting cards,
etc, bearing dozens of different bird flu slogans. Most are pretty lame, in
my opinion, but several are gently comical: “Lunch Special – Pandemic
You’ve probably seen
this photo already. It’s all over the internet, usually with a caption
like, “Bird Flu Reaches America.” Another mildly amusing photo is
I think you might have to be British to understand this “Yobs” cartoon strip
Private Eye magazine.
Top Ten Signs You've Purchased a Fake Flu Shot from David Letterman.
“No. 10: The doctor looks a lot like the guy who hooked up your illegal
“Today, President Bush outlined the U.S.
government’s plan to fight a bird flu outbreak. Apparently the plan is to
attack the flu over there in Iraq, before it attacks us here.” Compilations
of Jay Leno monologues, including some good bird flu jokes, are
Bush Orders Mass Bald
Eagle Slaughter to Stop Spread of Bird Flu – a report in The Onion. Also
from The Onion:
Nation’s Leading Alarmists Excited about Bird Flu and
KFC Introduces New
Bird-Flu Dipping Vaccine.
Top Ten Dumb Guy Tips for Avoiding the Bird Flu from Letterman. “No. 9:
Don't lick unfamiliar pigeons.”
The Daily Show has several great reports available online in streaming
video. There’s senior epidemiologist Samantha Bee’s
And don't miss Rob Corddry's hilarious
HealthScare: Avian Flu - the funniest piece of bird flu humor on the
November 17th, 2005
confirmed its first cases of bird flu, with three victims, two of whom have
died. According to the
New York Times:
Ministry said this evening that bird flu had been confirmed in a 9-year-old
boy and his 12-year-old sister in central China's Hunan Province and in a
36-year-old woman in Anhui Province in east-central China. The boy has
recovered and was released from the hospital last weekend; the girl and the
In confirming all
three cases as infections with the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Chinese
authorities went even further than the W.H.O. was willing to go. The W.H.O.
agreed late today that the boy and the woman, a teacher, had been infected
with bird flu. But the sister's body was cremated before her case became the
subject of international medical attention, and the W.H.O. concluded that
samples drawn before she died were not adequate for determining whether she
had bird flu.
Gilead End Their Dispute
Sciences, which developed Tamiflu, and Roche Holding, which has the license
to produce and market it, have
ended a dispute over their contract. Roche will make a $62.5 million
retroactive royalty payment to Gilead, which will also gain additional
promoting the drug.
Vaccinations in China, Mutations in Vietnam
to vaccinate all five billion of the country’s poultry against H5N1 bird
flu. The announcement comes after a series of flu outbreaks in birds.
to the New
will slow the spread of the virus and reduce human exposure to it, but will
also make any remaining virus hard to detect….Officials
have blamed outbreaks in Liaoning, where a woman is suspected of contracting
the disease, on the use of faulty or fake vaccines on poultry. But it is
known that the virus can persist and spread even in properly vaccinated
birds unless stringent precautions are taken.
The journal also
confirms alarming news from Vietnam:
H5N1 has already been
mutating rapidly in Vietnam, where few chickens are vaccinated. Cao Bao Van,
head of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, told the
Vietnamese press this week that 24 isolates of H5N1 from poultry and humans,
taken between December 2003 and March 2005, show “significant variation”.
Cao was also quoted
as saying a mutation had been observed in the PB2 gene of a virus isolated
from a human case in March, which “allows more effective breeding of the
virus in mammals”. PB2 codes for part of the polymerase enzyme which
replicates the virus.
That mutation, at
amino acid number 627 of the protein, changes the glutamic acid of bird flu
to the lysine typical of human flu. The change allows the virus to replicate
in the human respiratory tract, which is cooler than the bird guts where
bird flu normally replicates.
The same mutation has
been turning up since 2004 in several isolates of H5N1 from humans and other
mammals in East Asia and shows the virus is adapting to mammals while
infecting them. It was also a feature of the 1918 pandemic virus, which was
a bird flu virus that adapted to humans.
poultry industry has launched a new website,
Avian Influenza, intended
to provide information on bird flu, and to reassure a nervous public. It is
an initiative of the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey
Federation and the Egg Safety Center.
Up and Down
bird flu companies Roche Holding and its Japanese partner Chugai
Pharmaceutical fell yesterday after reports that Tamiflu – made by Roche –
might have caused two Japanese teenage boys to commit suicide. Roche
has said there is no clear evidence that the drug was responsible.
Avant Immunotherapeutics soared more than 10% on news that it is
developing a bird flu vaccine.
developing a vaccine is the
Research Center, according to the Novosti news agency. It believes it
could be ready for commercial production by February or March next year.
Just one problem – not enough money.
Where Are All the Bird
Some writers get lucky.
John Barry spent seven years writing
The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History,
about the 1918 pandemic. At times, he says, he got so frustrated with the
project that he felt like quitting. It was published last year, and, soon
after, the world started talking about a new flu pandemic. When President
George Bush went on vacation in August he announced that Barry’s book was
one of those he was taking to read. Sales are buoyant.
are quick to spot trends and to rush out books to meet them. So it would be
normal to expect a flood of new bird flu books. Where are they?
My guess is
that this is such a fast-moving story – new developments appear almost
daily, as this blog and others attest – that publishers fear any book will
quickly be out-of-date....continue
reading Where Are All the Bird Flu Books?
News Is Not Good
Japanese health ministry has revealed that two teenage boys who took
Tamiflu subsequently exhibited abnormal behavior that led to their deaths. A
17-year-old boy took Tamiflu, then left home in his pajamas and jumped in
front of a truck. A 14-year-old boy fell from the ninth floor of his
apartment building after taking the drug.
In Japan the drug
carries a warning of possible impaired consciousness, abnormal behavior,
hallucinations, and other psychological and neurological symptoms. The
ministry is considering issuing a fresh warning….The Pharmaceuticals and
Medical Devices Agency said there were 64 cases of psychological disorders
linked to the drug between fiscal 2000 and 2004.
Chinese government says an eighth outbreak of bird flu within a month is
creating a "very serious situation" because the virus seems to be spreading.
Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute has found that the bird flu
virus strain H5N1 in the country has mutated to make it more dangerous.
Pigs Not Infected
Hunan provincial government has denied reports – for example,
here – that local
pigs have been infected with bird flu.
Fight Bird Flu"
Daily Telegraph reports that
sauerkraut could become a “secret weapon” against bird flu. It says
scientists believe it contains bacteria that helps combat the disease.
Sauerkraut sales are apparently already rising in the UK. There have been
Korean kimchi (also spelled kimchee) has been shown as effective against
bird flu. Both sauerkraut and kimchi are made from fermented cabbage.