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Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...

 
Then the BAD
User ID: 62048
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01/11/2006 02:38 PM
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Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...
The Washington Post
[link to www.washingtonpost.com]

Wednesday, January 11, 2006; Page A20

HERE'S THE GOOD news: The discovery of a clutch of new bird flu cases in eastern Turkey does not -- yet -- signify the onset of a global human pandemic. So far, it appears that everyone who came down with flu caused by the H5N1 avian virus was in close contact with poultry. That probably means the virus has not yet mutated in such a way as to allow people to catch it from other people. If it never does, then it will remain a large economic problem -- poultry farmers across Turkey are being forced to slaughter their flocks -- but a relatively small health problem, confined to farmers and isolated rural villagers.

Now here's the bad news: If the virus really were to become a global human pandemic, the behavior of the Turkish government, neighboring governments and international institutions demonstrate that, for all the hype about bird flu, the world is totally unprepared. Certainly most health officials in that region are unprepared, judging by the drastic, frightening and almost certainly pointless steps they have taken. Turkish officials have set up quarantines around parts of their cities, Russian officials have advised their citizens not to travel to Turkey, neighboring countries are spraying disinfectant on cars coming from Turkey and Iran has closed its border with Turkey -- all in the name of a disease that is being transmitted around the world by wild birds that are unlikely to obey quarantines, respect borders or ride in cars. Turkish officials have also announced they have enough retroviral medicines to deal with the disease, a claim that will certainly prove false -- no one has enough retrovirals to deal with the disease -- if any significant number of people get it.

The World Health Organization, which is charged with monitoring the progress of the flu and conveying information around the world, has done its best to keep up with the multiple cases in different cities. But with only a dozen employees dispatched to Turkey and only a few dozen flu specialists worldwide, the WHO has been quite slow to confirm reported cases of the disease. This means not only that the organization will be overwhelmed if the numbers grow larger, but the lack of information has led to the publication of widely varying estimates on the numbers of cases and constant rumors that there are far more. Already there are reports of public attacks on rural health officials. Since chickens are being culled without any compensation, there are also reports of farmers hiding the birds to have something to eat.

It is true that in the absence of a vaccine, there are only a few useful things governments can do: prepare hospital isolation wards, for example, so that patients can be treated safely if the disease begins to spread -- or provide the public with better, clearer information, so panic doesn't increase. The only genuinely satisfying solutions are all still long-term. The World Health Organization needs more funding and more employees. The world needs a high-priority, international program to create a bird flu vaccine. These steps, and not useless quarantines and empty promises about nonexistent cures, are what we hope the United States and the rest of the world's rich countries will be talking about when they meet to discuss bird flu in Beijing next week.
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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01/11/2006 02:41 PM
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Re: Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...
Bird flu 'not caused by birds'
11/01/2006 07:53 - (SA)

[link to www.news24.com]

Brussels - Migratory birds have been wrongly blamed for bringing avian flu to Turkey, a Belgian organisation said on Tuesday, linking the spread of the virus instead to a key trade route.

"All the evidence shows that they (migrating birds) have nothing to do with it," the Belgian League for the Protection of Birds said in a statement.

"No birds migrate from China to Europe. On the other hand, the path follows the main trade route between the Far East and Europe, which more or less corresponds to the Orient Express railway line," the league said.

"So it seems clear that it is human activities that are behind the spread" of the virus, the statement said.

"No (migratory) bird caught by hunters or scientists has been shown to carry the (bird flu) virus," it added.
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01/11/2006 02:43 PM
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Re: Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...
China Reports Two More Deaths From Avian Influenza, WHO Says
[link to www.bloomberg.com]
Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Two Chinese patients who were infected by avian influenza died, bringing the number of fatalities from the H5N1 strain of the virus to five in China, the World Health Organization said.

A 10-year-old girl in the southern province of Guangxi and a 35-year-old man in the southern province of Jiangxi died, Richard Brown, an epidemiologist with WHO, said in a phone interview from the agency's regional office in Manila.

``The new deaths bring China's mortality rate from avian influenza in line with the mortality rate of those elsewhere in the region,'' Brown said. ``The mortality rate does seem to be somewhere between the 60 percent and 70 percent range.''

Scientists and public-health officials are concerned the H5N1 virus, which has infected millions of birds, will mutate into a form that spreads easily among people. Across Asia, avian flu has infected at least 147 people the past two years in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and China, and killed 78 of them, Geneva-based WHO said yesterday.

China has reported a total of eight human cases of avian influenza and more than 31 outbreaks among poultry.

The latest case of human infection is a six-year-old boy in the southern province of Hunan, who is in critical condition in a hospital, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The latest case was confirmed by the World Health Organization and the Chinese government, with samples tested at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of China, the China Daily newspaper said yesterday.

Chinese health officials said they expected more human infections this year. As long as there are outbreaks among the animal population, ``there will be more human infections,'' Ministry of Health spokesman Mao Qunan said at a briefing in Beijing yesterday.
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01/11/2006 02:47 PM
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Re: Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...
Parliamentarian Calls Russian Men to Arms to Halt Bird Flu
Created: 11.01.2006 13:53 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 13:53 MSK, 8 hours 52 minutes ago


A deputy speaker in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, has proposed halting the migration of birds in order to prevent the spread of bird flu.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky (Don't they have insane asylums in Russia anymore? Just look at this guy: [link to www.mosnews.com] who is well known for his eccentric behavior and sudden outbursts, said the Russian government should not allow birds from Turkey to fly over Russian borders.

To prevent epidemics all Russian men should take up arms and fight the birds, Interfax quoted the MP as saying. “No more migrations — let them stay there, in the south, we must shoot all the birds, call over all our men, the troops from Sochi (a Russian resort on the Black Sea) to the Crimea (the Ukrainian peninsula) and any migratory bird must stay at the place where it is now,” Zhirinovsky, the leader of nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, said.

The deputy called bird flu “the most modern form of waging war, when harmless little birds fly over a country...and a part of the people die.”
(Mysterious STRANGER)

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01/11/2006 02:49 PM
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Re: Bird Flu Harbingers - HERE'S THE GOOD news...
A deputy speaker in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, has proposed halting the migration of birds in order to prevent the spread of bird flu.


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