News and notes about the Bird Flu Virus, page 5

Bird Flu News (H5N1)

This page provides news and comments about the bird flu, sometimes referred to as avian bird flu, Asian bird flu, and avian influenza A (H5N1).

Bird Flu News on October 30, 2005

Saudi Arabia: Insurance companies are rejecting applications by poultry farmers there saying it was because they have no precise statistics that would help in measuring the likelihood of the occurrence of the risk. Bird flu fears are also affecting Saudi investors in the poultry sector of Saudi Arabia. In the Eastern Province alone there are 3,000,000 chickens. To date, all international efforts to control the disease have not yielded positive results. Saudi Arabia has banned the import of birds from nearly 50 countries.

Facemask sales are soaring – but not because of Halloween. Fears of a possible pandemic are creating a surge in orders for respirators and facemasks that could protect users against the deadly bird flu. One distributor said that sales have increased from 25 a week to 5,000 a week.

Although antibiotics do nothing to the virus, the flu is often complicated by secondary bacterial infection in the lungs such as pneumonia. Antibiotics could be life saving in the case of late-onset pneumonia. The WHO report advises countries to ensure that they have adequate supplies of antibiotics in advance.

Hard Fact: Because a vaccine needs to closely match the virus, large-scale commercial production of a bird flu vaccine for the H5N1 virus will not start until the new virus has emerged and a pandemic has been declared.

Bird Flu News on October 31, 2005

Black market vaccine for the bird flu is a growing problem. Thailand’s FDA announced a crackdown on smuggled bird flu vaccines at border check points nationwide.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Australian Foreign Minister issued a warning to Asian countries that Australia won’t tolerate any cover-ups of bird flu outbreaks.

News reports from many sources are saying that disaster management experts all over the world are trying to figure out how to prevent what could be the world’s worst medical and social disaster. We believe this to be a “Don’t worry, be happy” spin put on the actual facts by the media and likely a lot of governments. Medical experts say that preventing this pandemic is impossible. Given that this pandemic is going to happen, disaster managers are more likely trying to figure out what they are going to do when the H5N1 virus arrives in their areas.

The International Red Cross warns the risk of a pandemic is real. Doctor Grete Busdsted of the Red Cross said that, “it is becoming easier for the virus to infect humans and I believe that most experts or authorities across the world are now pretty certain this is going to happen.”

Bird Flu News on November 1, 2005

President Bush called for a $7 billion preparedness strategy to deal with the bird flu. The plan is focused mainly on creating capacity and resources within the US to deal with the risk of flu pandemic. In general it would provide the following:

  • $2.8 billion would go to speed the development of new vaccines.
  • $2.2 billion to pay for stockpiles of vaccine and antiviral drugs that (it is hoped) would alleviate flu symptoms.
  • $583 million to pay for state and local governments to prepare emergency plans.
  • $251 million to help fund a new international partnership on avian and pandemic influenza.

We salute Joe Howton, the medical director at the Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He suggested a way to double the existing supply of Tamiflu. Mr. Howton noted that Tamiflu is secreted by the kidneys and that the process is inhibited by the drug, Probenecid. Mixing the flu drug with Probenecid would double the time that Tamiflu stays in the blood, allowing doses to be cut in half with the same effectiveness. In other words, you could use half as much Tamiflu and get the same therapeutic effect.

Scientists discovered in World War II that a benzoic acid derivative called Probenecid slows the removal process in the kidneys of many drugs, including antibiotics. This discovery was used to extend penicillin supplies. Probenecid is still readily available and is widely used with antibiotics today.

Even with the most optimistic production schedule, using Probenecid with Tamiflu would give enough vaccine to treat only 7% of the world’s population.

It seems to me that the best thing to do is go on with your life except to stay away from those who obviously are sneezing their heads off and blowing their noses. Wash your hands more frequently and keep them away from your face except after washing. Hand shaking is a habit that spreads numerous germs and viruses.

Bird Flu News on November 2, 2005

Signs of progress: a team of researchers from UW-Madison and the University of Tokyo report a new way to generate genetically altered influenza virus. This is an improvement on a reverse genetics method. The new technique significantly reduces the number of vectors required to ferry viral genes into monkey kidney cells that are used to produce the virus particles to make vaccines. The new technique will allow more efficient production of the disarmed viruses that are used in making flu vaccine in large quantities. In short, it speeds up the production process.

President George W. Bush’s flu pandemic plan announced yesterday may help increase vaccine production by protecting drug makers such as Sanofi-Aventis SA, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Novartis AG against lawsuits.

President Bush said yesterday he will seek $7.1 billion to prepare the U.S. for a flu pandemic that may occur if avian influenza mutates into a form infectious among people. His plan involves stockpiling antiviral drugs, buying large supplies of pandemic vaccines when they are developed and raising liability protection for vaccine makers.

Beware of people who say, “This strain of avian flu might never reach our shores.” According to the World Health Organization, the bird flu H5N1 is spreading among both domestic and wild fowl, many of which are migratory.

Bird Flu News on November 3, 2005

The official U.S. plan to deal with the bird flu (H5N1 avian influenza) was released this week and it paints a grim picture.

The response plan is based on a scenario that models the pandemic that occurred in 1918 (Experts say this H5N1 virus is much worse). It estimates that 1.9 million Americans could die and about 10 million more could be hospitalized over the course of the pandemic, which may last a year or more.

We say the plan underestimates in almost every way for one important reason. The so-called worst-case scenario is based on what has happened, not on what is likely to happen. The mortality rate of the 1918 pandemic was about 5%, the H5N1 virus is over 50%.

Health officials agree that the H5N1 bird flu virus is probably unstoppable, that it could mutate any time into a disease that passes easily from one person to another.

You can find the US Health and Human Services department’s flu plan here.

Here is the scenario: When the bird flu comes to the United States, efforts will be made to prevent the spread of the virus by quarantining those affected, both individuals and whole cities. Public offices, transportation, schools, and businesses may be closed by emergency order for 5 to 10 weeks.

Creating quarantines and closing borders will slow the spread of the bird flu but not stop it because those infected can spread the infection a day or two before a they start showing symptoms.

According to the plan, you should prepare for the emotional impact of “mass casualties and deaths among children” and well as “economic collapse or acute shortages of food, water, electricity, and other essential services.”

Hospitals are not equipped to handle a pandemic. They will be overwhelmed. Most people should not plan on using hospitals during a pandemic. They have a limited number of beds, equipment and are short on nurses. Going to any medical facility during a pandemic may be a bad idea. It would put you in an area where the disease is concentrated.

Even the optimistic estimates of impact are so large that we will be dealing with social disruption on a scale that none of us have ever experienced.

The bottom line is this: We are facing a very big problem and we need to put our energies into solving the many problems that face us, from having enough caskets to where the next meal for our children will come from.

Bird Flu News on November 4, 2005

H5N1 seems to have expanded its host range, infecting and killing mammals previously considered resistant to infection with avian influenza viruses.

This pandemics is expected to cause large surges in the numbers of people seeking medical or hospital treatment, temporarily overwhelming health services. High rates of worker absenteeism may also interrupt other essential services, such as law enforcement, transportation, and communications.

Bird Flu News on November 5, 2005

In Indonesia the count is now 10 infections resulting in 6 deaths.

Bird Flu News on November 6, 2005

To date this avian bird flu virus has caused the slaughter of over 200 million birds.

Scientists have discovered several Tamiflu-resistant strains in Asia.

An inside sourse tell us that wholesale drug companies were directed by the feds to hold all Tamiflu for use by the government. As of today there are no legitamite online sources for Tamiflu.

Bird Flu News on November 7, 2005

China killed 6 million birds last week in an effort to prevent the spread of this virus, a million and a half of them were infected.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is giving states a template to incorporate some of the national plan. In some states, the same agencies that collaborate on terrorism response plans are working on plans for a bird flu pandemic.

AskDocWeb:Plans should consider that a third of all employees may not be able to work during the height of a pandemic.

We are seeing the spread of misinformation so here are 7 things you should get straight.

1) There are currently no known cases of avian flu that was transfered from person-to-person. A pandemic would occur only if the current virus mutates so that it could be tansmitted person-to-person. There is no need to panic. There is a need to prepare.

2. There is sound scientific evidence suggesting a pandemic could evolve.

3) There are major differences between the deadly 1918 flu pandemic and one that might occur in modern times. On the good side, we have anti-viral drugs that were not available back then. These drugs can mitigate the effects of the infection, and now we have antibiotics to treat secondary infections and complications. On the bad side, this this bird flu virus has a much higher mortality rate, over 50%.

4) Influenza is highly contagious and can be spread one or two days before symptoms appear.

5) Vaccine production is a slow process. We cannot develop a vaccine until human to human transmission has occurred and we identify the new virus.

6) At the moment, Tamiflu is the number one choice in treating influenza, even though several strains of the H5N1 virus have become resistant to this drug.

7 As in any crisis, the scammers are trying to take advantage. Already, dozens of Internet sites have sprung up selling imposter “Tamiflu” and surgical masks that offer little or no
protection against the flu virus. Buyer beware.
Expert: Dr. David Nabarro, U.N. system coordinator for avian and human influenza:

At CIDRAP news, on December 16, 2005, Dr. Nabarro was quoted, “There are some subtle changes in the genetic makeup of H5N1 which suggest that it is making some of the mutations that would enable it to have a higher likelihood of being able to become a human-to-human transmitted virus.”

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