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Bird Flu - Archives


November 2006

Bird Flu - Back in the News
The Northern winter approaches, and bird flu is back in the headlines.

In South Korea, authorities battling the second bird flu outbreak, are slaughtering poultry, pigs, dogs and cats.

The World Health Organization has confirmed the 57th death in Indonesia.

A Quebec hospital has denied rumors that it is treating North America's first bird flu patient.

And a World Bank officials has said that up to a further $1.3 billion is needed to fight the disease, especially in Africa.
November 30th, 2006


Korea Bird Flu Outbreak Latest
- Quarantine officials have killed 125,000 chickens, in order to prevent the disease from spreading, and also plan to kill cats and dogs.

- Share prices in Korean biotech companies have soared. Poultry producers are down.

- North Korea has stepped up preventative measures to stop the disease crossing the border, including the locking up of all livestock.

And elsewhere:

- Finland's Helsingin Sanomat carries the slightly enigmatic headline: "Bird flu danger looms greater than before next spring".

- While AFX News writes: "Bird flu may pose greater risk to financial markets than terrorism - analysts". 
November 28th, 2006


Annyong Haseyo - I'm Back

The current bird flu wave began in December 2003 - March 2004, when H5N1 was identified in poultry in eight Asian countries. One of those countries was South Korea, which appeared to have successfully contained the disease. Not any longer.
November 24th, 2006


Don't Believe What You Read On This Website
Exactly a year ago I wrote an article for this website on how bird flu might affect the Thanksgiving celebrations. I concluded:

So make a special effort to enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey. Because, according to the LiveScience website, there is no guarantee that next year, "when the avian flu could reach the United States," things will be so simple.

What a difference a year makes.
November 23rd, 2006

Bird Flu - Panic Over? Part II

The BBC carries a lengthy report on bird flu around the world, noting that it seems to have become largely dormant in most countries.

The (somewhat vague) conclusion:

It is likely that the coming months will see more cases of birds infected with the H5N1 virus.

But the experts' conclusion is that the chances it will mutate into a dangerous pandemic strain are no greater than they were this time last year.

November 21st, 2006


Bird Flu - Panic Over?

Australia's top doctor says the world may have avoided a bird flu pandemic:

Chief medical officer Prof John Horvath said global measures to prevent the H5N1 virus could have staved off a mass outbreak.

"It may be that the world has already averted a pandemic by the actions it has taken in response to H5N1, such as extensive culling of poultry and isolation of infected humans," Prof Horvath said.

Qualified agreement comes from Nobel Prize-winning immunologist Prof Peter Doherty:

"Australians should rest assured that this country is as prepared for a possible H5N1 pandemic as any nation on earth, including the United States . . . however, there are no certainties," Prof Doherty said.

"In general though, the more time goes by, the better off we are likely to be.

"Even if we duck the bullet this time, the effort and resources expended here will have ensured that our capacity to deal with an unexpected invader is enhanced."

November 20th, 2006


Japan - More Tamiflu "Bizarre Behavior"?
Does Tamiflu cause erratic behavior in youngsters? For some time there have been reports from Japan - where Tamiflu is widely prescribed - of young people committing suicide after taking the drug.

Now US Food and Drug Administration officials are advising that all patients, and especially children, be monitored when using Tamiflu.

This follows 103 reported new cases from Japan of "bizarre behavior" between August 2005 and July 2006.
November 14th, 2006


More Reasons to Panic
An ultra-severe flu pandemic could kill 140 million people worldwide and cost the global economy more than $4 trillion, according to a new computer model:

An ultra pandemic would cause recessions in the developed world, cutting GDP by 5.5% in the United States and 8% in Europe

...On the other hand, such a pandemic would hammer developing countries....The GDP of Indonesia would drop by 18%. Output in Singapore would shrink by 22%, in the Philippines by 38% and in Hong Kong by 54%.

November 13th, 2006


I Haven't Gone Away
The Toronto Sun reminds us that we should still be panicking.

Here's the headline:

Killer pandemic 'going to happen'

And here's the first sub-head:

World must prepare for the worst, expert warns

And the next sub-head:


Meanwhile, here's a headline in the Cincinnati Enquirer:

We're not ready for flu pandemic
November 8th, 2006


China Accused Again
Newspapers are reporting that China has not been sharing important bird flu information:

The World Health Organisation blasted China's agriculture ministry yesterday for not sharing samples of a newly discovered strain of bird flu, complicating the health watchdog's efforts to track the virus's spread.

The WHO's comments came after a scientific report published earlier this week suggested the new strain - called H5N1 Fujian-like - is now widespread across much of southern China and South-east Asia.

Despite that prevalence, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has not given the WHO any samples of the new strain, said Julie Hall, an infectious disease expert at the WHO's Beijing office.

"There's a stark contrast between what we're hearing from the researchers and what the ministry of agriculture says," said Dr Hall. "Unless the ministry tell us what's going on and shares viruses on a regular basis, we will be doing diagnostics on strains that are old."

She said the MOA has not shared any bird-flu samples with the WHO since 2004.

November 3rd, 2006


Bird Flu - the Third Wave
Britain's Daily Telegraph carries a sober report headlined, "New strain of bird flu spreads to humans:"

A previously unknown and dangerous strain of the H5N1 bird flu has emerged from southern China and has spread from birds to people in South-east Asia, marking a third wave of avian flu and rekindling fears of a global pandemic.

Although the H5N1 avian influenza mostly affects birds and infects people only sporadically, the new strain will once again raise fears that it may mutate or combine with a human virus to form a mutant or hybrid capable of passing from person to person, triggering a pandemic where millions of lives may be lost.

November 1st, 2006