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Bloviating Zeppelin: Wake Up And Smell the H5N1

Bloviating Zeppelin

(in-ep-toc'-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wake Up And Smell the H5N1

I will occasionally frequent left wing blogs, internet publications and institutions because I, well, I can't say I "enjoy" reading how the other half lives, but at least I consider myself more well informed.

That said, I've noticed a number of these blogs tend to believe the H5N1 avian flu is simply an overblown myth perpetuated by right wingers and their concomitant media sycophants in an attempt to announce a falling sky. I have yet to nail down why this appears to be a thread on the left. Literally, on the other hand, the media I value, blogs and all, appear to be taking H5N1 very seriously -- as I would recommend you do.

I would recommend we all start paying very close attention.

What started out as merely rumor a year or so ago is now close to paralyzing the country of Turkey. The news on avian bird flu is becoming geometric. Let's examine some of the more recent stories.

From Van, Turkey, January 10th:

Sumeyya Mamuk considered the chickens in her backyard to be beloved pets. The 8-year-old girl fed them, petted them and took care of them. When they started to get sick and die, she hugged them and tenderly kissed them goodbye. The next morning, her face and eyes were swollen and she had a high fever. Her father took her to a hospital, and five days later she was confirmed to have the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Following a few tense days when her family worried if she would recover, Summeya's condition has improved due to quick treatment with the antiviral drug Tamiflu, said Dr. Huseyin Avni Sahin, chief physician at the Van 100th Year Hospital.

But at least two other children have died of the same virus in Turkey, and as of Tuesday, 15 people had tested positive for infection in preliminary tests. Many are children.
The disease also appears to be spreading.

From Ankara, Turkey, January 9th:

Turkey’s bird flu crisis deepened on Monday after the health ministry announced that five more people had been infected with the deadliest strain of the virus and the government faced intense criticism of its handling of the worsening outbreak.

Fourteen people have now contracted the H5N1 strain of the virus in Turkey, according to Recep Akdag, the health minister. Three of them – children from the same family – died last week. The children’s six-year-old brother was released from hospital in the eastern city of Van on Monday after apparently not contracting the virus.

The WHO have confirmed on Monday evening that all the 14 cases are H5N1, which scientists believe could cause a global pandemic of bird flu if it can be transmitted from person to person. WHO officials said there was no evidence that such mutation was occurring in the Turkish cases and that infections were most likely to be caused by close contact with infected poultry.

From Greece, January 10th:

Greece on alert for bird flu contamination from Turkey: Greece's health services were on alert Tuesday to resist possible bird flu contamination from neighbouring Turkey, where two people have died from the H5N1 strain of the virus.

The Greek government stressed that both the relevant health authorities and poultry farmers were fully aware of the situation, the semi-official Athens News Agency (ANA) reported. Officials on the northeastern border with Turkey were spraying incoming vehicles with disinfectant as a precaution, "We're not particularly worried, just cautious," Michalis Kougioumtzis, deputy prefect of the local Evros region, told the agency. He added that prefecture officials were also monitoring local poultry units, and inspecting migratory bird samples obtained from hunters.

All samples have proved negative so far, Kougioumtzis said. In Turkey, an official in the western province of Aydin said that the virus had been identified in birds in Kusadasi, a popular resort on the western Aegean coast that faces the Greek island of Samos."The European Union and Greece, a country that neighbours Turkey, are fully aware and fully informed of the situation prevalent in Turkey," Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis told reporters on Tuesday.

"All necessary measures have already been taken, and any additional measures deemed necessary will also be taken," he said.

On Monday night, Greek Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis told parliament that there were plans to supply embassy and consular staff in Turkey with Tamiflu, an inhibitor thought to ease flu symptoms, AFP reports.

From Turkey, January 9th:

DOGUBAYAZIT, Turkey (Reuters) - There are no signs that the bird flu virus spreading in Turkey is being passed among humans, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. The WHO has confirmed four human bird flu cases in Turkey, including the deaths of two siblings last week from Dogubayazit in the eastern part of the country.

"At the moment there is no element in this village indicating human-to-human transmission. It's typically similar to what we have seen so far (in Asia)," Guenael Roider, head of the WHO's Turkey mission, told Reuters Television. He was part of a team investigating the bird flu in the east of Turkey.

Turkish authorities say 14 people have tested positive for the deadly bird flu virus including three siblings from Dogubayazit who have died. The WHO said other cases had not so far been verified by laboratory tests.

Two points I guarantee you've not read; first:

Next week, a major vaccine manufacturer plans to start producing a shot that is designed to protect people against bird flu -- even though it's far from clear that a human vaccine developed now will be effective if the virus shifts into a more virulent form.

The disease has so far killed fewer than 80 people worldwide. But if the virus mutates and starts a global pandemic, it will take four to six months to design and start producing a vaccine based on that new virus. So the U.S. government is spending more than $160 million this year to build a small stockpile of vaccine based on the version of the flu virus that's killing birds today.

People simply don't know how long flu vaccines last. They are tailor-made for each season, and whatever isn't used is thrown away. That's one reason some other nations are not planning to stockpile this bird flu vaccine. Robertson says the other big reason is that the next flu pandemic may have nothing whatsoever to do with the H5N1 bird flu. And even if it does, that virus could change so much between now and a pandemic that a vaccine against today's virus would be useless. The virus has already started to mutate, so it doesn't look exactly like the one that's being used in the vaccine.

Perhaps the overarching question at this point: Is Tamiflu actually a viable combatant against the H5N1 avian flu?

If a flu pandemic strikes the U.S., the government plans to hand out millions of doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu to reduce the death toll. Scientists say that's a reasonable approach, since there's no vaccine for bird flu, and Tamiflu appears to do some good. But the drug is no panacea, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

In testimony before the House Commitee on International Relations, Fauci said, "I want to caution the committee that we cannot equate stockpiling and availability of Tamiflu with preparedness. We have no hard scientific data of how well this antiviral will perform under the conditions of a pandemic."

Fauci told the committee that Tamiflu doesn't cure even everyday flu.

"What this antiviral does is diminish the duration of symptoms by approximately a day and a half," he said. That's because Tamiflu doesn't kill the flu virus. It just slows it down so the body's immune system can catch up.


Has there been any documented transmission of H5N1 from human to human?

This article tends to indicate a yes:

MONDAY, Jan. 24, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- In what may be the first documented case that the dangerous avian flu can be transmitted between humans, a new study concludes an 11-year-old girl in Thailand likely transmitted avian flu to her mother and aunt last summer.

These would be the first documented cases of person-to-person transmission of the H5N1 avian flu, which has wreaked havoc across Asia in the past year, according to an article in the Jan. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine . The article was released early to coincide with the University of Michigan Bioterrorism Preparedness Initiative conference.

With this new evidence, an editorial and perspective article in the same issue of the journal call for preventive measures that would avoid a worldwide pandemic of the disease.

The avian flu in Asia has been particularly bad, with more than 120 million poultry dying or destroyed between January and March 2004, stated an editorial in the journal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 52 people in Thailand and Vietnam have been infected and 39 have died over the past year.

The girl lived with her aunt in a province of Thailand and slept and played in an area under the elevated house where the family's chickens often wandered. The flock of free-ranging chickens had been sick, with the last ones dying on the last two days of August 2004. The girl's aunt buried the last five chickens on August 29 or 30, using plastic bags to protect her hands.

The girl fell ill on Sept. 2 and was admitted to a local hospital on Sept. 7. She was transferred to the provincial hospital the next day, but died three hours after admission.

The girl's mother traveled four hours from Bangkok on Sept. 7, stopping at the girl's house only for 10 minutes before heading for the hospital. Both mother and aunt provided unprotected nursing care for the girl.

The mother developed symptoms three days after her daughter died, and it appeared unlikely that her 10-minute stop at the house would be enough to allow bird-to-human transmission. She later died. The aunt fell ill on Sept. 16, 17 days after her last exposure to the chickens. The accepted incubation period is two to 10 days.


A final word: I have found a local supplier and purchased some large boxes of medical masks, "just in case" and whilst stocks are still available. I have also stocked extra water, energy and food at the house, "just in case."

If you get my drift.


Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox said...

I'm surprised that the left wing blogs are blowing it off. I thought the left was blaming Bush for not doing something earlier.

Wed Jan 11, 08:13:00 AM PST  
Blogger sandy said...

LMC stole my comment:)

Wed Jan 11, 09:23:00 AM PST  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

How do you "occasionally frequent" something. Hmmmm....

My suspicions were correct. You sir are a phony. You are merely posing as a conservative. No true conservative would name himself after the Cape Cod Orca!

This whole story is a ruse! You have come to infiltrate the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy!
I have my Eye on you mister!

Look out folks. He will expose our plot to take over the world!

Wed Jan 11, 02:26:00 PM PST  
Blogger Revka said...

Yes, it seems as though it is already being transferred from human to human. By the time it gets here I am sure it would be a pandemic.
I think making sure you have extra things (stockpiling) is necessary anyway, especially if you have children.
(excuse my picture, i will replace it as soon as I find a better one.This one is all I have for the moment! :)

Wed Jan 11, 03:01:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

BWH: Or I semi-frequently occasion a site. :^)

You're right. It's all a load and I'm simply a poseur. Dammit! Exposed wholly!

Rebecca: At least you have a picture. Mine would look like the Hindenburg.

Wed Jan 11, 04:22:00 PM PST  
Blogger Gayle said...

Well, how do y'all like my picture, hmmmmm? :)

Important post, BZ. We are always stocked up here. My husband is a great believer in "stockpiling." We could honestly last a year, maybe more, without having to go to the store. We may end up eating a lot of canned and dry stuff, but food is food if you are hungry enough!

Wed Jan 11, 04:44:00 PM PST  
Blogger Revka said...

I got kind of tired of seeing my face everytime i posted, so i decided to switch to the ultimate... The one and only.. Queen of conservatives..

Thu Jan 12, 08:14:00 AM PST  
Blogger bigwhitehat said...

I think I have the flu. Maybe it wasn't a conspiracy. Sorry BloZep.

Thu Jan 12, 01:14:00 PM PST  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I'm feeling a little ragged my own self. Wonder if it was that Tyson chicken I had last night. . . ?

Fri Jan 13, 04:51:00 AM PST  

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