Bird Flu - Archives
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
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
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
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
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'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
booming for Roche Holdings, with sales up 19% in the first nine months
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,
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
"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
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
Millions of potential killers carrying deadly bird flu are heading to
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
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
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
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
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