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Bird Flu - Archives

 

October 2006
 

Creeping Closer
With the northern winter approaching, The Times in Britain has a lengthy, excellent review of where things stand, bird flu-wise:

There have been more deaths from bird flu — 73 — in 2006 than in any previous year of the current outbreak, which kicked off in 2003. The virus is creeping closer to Europe, with several countries — Azerbaijan, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq and Turkey — reporting human cases for the first time this year.

And now winter lies around the corner. Cold weather brings a sharp rise in human influenza, heightening the possibility that bird flu could infect a person already infected with human flu. The resulting viral brew may permit H5N1 to snatch from human flu the ability to jump from person to person

October 31st, 2006

 

Indonesia - Such a Lot to Be Done
Bird flu remains a concern in Indonesia, according to David Nabarro, the UN's coordinator for bird flu:

“Indonesia has the virus probably in 30 out of 33 provinces… now Indonesia has had to move fast to completely redesign its animal health services… the Government certainly is committed together with the UN to making this happen but… still there’s such a lot to be done.”

Even inside Indonesia, people seem to agree. The Jakarta Post reports:

The effectiveness of the government's plan to cage fowls in residential areas as a move to curb the spread of the deadly avian influenza virus has been met with scepticism.

The Indonesia Consumers Foundation chief Husna Zahier said Sunday that the plan would be ineffective without a careful study of poultry and the relationship with their owners.

"If people don't keep their habitat and poultry cages clean, then the policy would be pretty much useless," she told The Jakarta Post.

October 27th, 2006

 

Bird Flu Coming Back to Europe?
Bird flu could hit Europe again this winter:

Bird flu may return to Europe in the coming weeks, spread by wild ducks, swans and geese carrying the lethal virus south from their Arctic mating grounds.

Twenty-six European nations reported initial infections of the H5N1 avian influenza strain in poultry or wild birds in late 2005 and early 2006 after a severe winter in Russia and the Caucasus area pushed migratory birds south and westward. The Food and Agriculture Organization said a resurgence of H5N1 in China and Russia indicates the pattern may be repeated.

``It is possible that a similar situation could occur in the approaching weeks with the migratory movement of wild birds from their northern breeding grounds,'' the United Nations agency said in the October edition of a newsletter published on its Web site. ``Eastern Europe and Caucasus region is at particularly high risk'' because of the higher density of backyard poultry there.

October 26th, 2006

 

Bird Flu? Yes, I Think I Remember Bird Flu
DVD Talk reviews the new DVD, "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America":

Hey, kids! Remember the bird flu? Sure you do - it's what was going to Kill Us All just a few months ago. No, not tainted spinach. No, not racist Senatorial candidates from Virginia. Think all the way back to May.

Every network and all the cable news channels went crazy over the thing, filling their news cycles with stories about how we're just one man-on-chicken incident away from having the disease wipe out all of humanity. You know, bird flu! And then, I dunno, some white girl went missing in Cabo or whatever, and the news people forgot all about it, and so did we.

Well, lucky for us, before the news cycle ended, ABC was kind enough to make a TV movie about a worst-case scenario. (Because, hey, more Americans get their irresponsible fear-mongering from ABC than from any other source.)

They called it "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America," because they wanted a title that was both TV movie-generic and patently absurd at the same time. They also aired it following of a series of reports aiming to educate the public about the facts regarding the possible pandemic and soothe fears stemming from baseless rumor and wild speculation… because irony is not lost on the American Broadcasting Company.

...And so, months after the bird flu has vanished from the news cycle like so many almost-apocalypses before it, we can watch "Fatal Contact" with a strange mix of curiosity and embarrassment. What could be seen as a time capsule of a brief point in our very long year is instead just another goofy movie-of-the-week in which B level stars run around and try to avoid the mounting dangers from whatever it is that will Kill Us All this time. Personally, I prefer to fear the Atomic Twister.

October 25th, 2006

 

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet
A new book warns that the next bird flu epidemic could strike fast:

The next flu pandemic will wing its way through the world at break-neck speed, hitching a ride on unsuspecting air travellers, speeding through train tunnels, and racing through shorter distances on bicycles, according to the author of a new book.

"Every year, one billion people travel by plane and in so doing provide viral hitchhikers unprecedented opportunities," Calgary-based journalist Andrew Nikiforuk told CTV.ca.

...He argues in his new book "Pandemonium" that our health is being threatened by biological invaders moving at unprecedented speed.

Unlike past pandemics, the next one will break all speed records, he writes.

October 24th, 2006

 

Egypt Warning
Egypt's Health Minister, Hatem Al Gabali, fears more human bird flu cases in the coming weeks:

“Bird flu is still present and we will witness new cases this winter. We just hope they won’t be fatal,” he told parliament.

“The population still refrains from informing the authorities when poultry is infected, especially in domestic rearings,” he added.

October 18th, 2006
 

Tamiflu a Winner for Roche
Business is booming for Roche Holdings, with sales up 19% in the first nine months of 2006:

The figures beat analysts' expectations, but some cautioned that the good sales of Tamiflu, which governments have been stockpiling in case of an influenza pandemic outbreak, masked sluggish growth elsewhere.
October 18th, 2006
 

No Worries, Mate
Bird flu continues to spread in Indonesia, but here in Australia, just over the seas, we're not worried. About 1,000 people are taking part in an exercise to simulate responses to an influenza pandemic.

[Health Minister] Mr Abbott said it was vital for the nation to know how its systems would cope if it faced a threat from bird flu.

For the moment, people should not be too frightened of an outbreak occurring in Australia.

"The threat level is unchanged. So far there have been almost 100 deaths (worldwide) from bird flu in calendar 2006, there's been another 60 cases of people who had bird flu but recovered,'' Mr Abbott said.

"That's somewhat up on last year but nevertheless we don't believe that anything that has happened this year, in reality, is actually something to change our state of alert.

October 17th, 2006

 

Uh Oh (Part II)
Another ominous headline:

Egypt detects new human H5N1 bird flu case
October 11th, 2006

 

Uh Oh
Two headlines:

Bird flu found in pigs in Indonesia's Bali

Kenya bans poultry imports after Juba bird flu report

(Juba is in Southern Sudan.)
October 10th, 2006

Winter's Coming - Time to Panic
Britain's sensationalist Sunday People newspaper reports:

Millions of potential killers carrying deadly bird flu are heading to Britain.

More than three million birds have started their annual migration from Scandinavia, Russia and Canada to spend winter in our milder climate.

And experts warn that some will have the lethal HN51 strain of bird flu which has killed at least 76 people worldwide.

In Russia last year 13,000 birds died of the disease and 113,000 were culled to prevent further outbreaks.

Britain's deputy chief veterinary officer, Fred Landeg, said: "Far from going away, there is an increased likelihood of finding the virus here. We must be vigilant. We're ready to deal with outbreaks."

The disease could also devastate poultry farms.

October 9th, 2006

 

We're Close to State of the Art - US
Reuters reports:

U.S. preparations against a possible outbreak of the deadly form of the H5N1 avian flu virus are solid, but other countries may not be as ready, a U.S. health safety official warned on Thursday.

"We're ... close to the state-of-the-art in the United States with preparations and strong biosecurity measures," said Ambassador John Lange, the State Department's special representative on avian and pandemic influenza.

But abroad, "it's a mixed bag," Lange said during a meeting of poultry industry leaders in Washington.

October 7th, 2006

 

Lower Your Cholesterol and Beat the Bird Flu
Might anti-cholesterol drugs also help defend against bird flu? Britain's Daily Mail reports:

Low-cost drugs that are used to treat high cholesterol levels could be used to beat epidemics such as bird flu, scientists say.

Early evidence suggests that statins, which are prescribed to 1.8 million people in Britain every year, can combat virulent influenza strains such as H5N1.
In a letter to a national newspaper, three flu experts said that statins could save millions of lives in a potential human pandemic and urgent research is needed to explore the idea.
October 5th, 2006