Governments around the world are, unfortunately, following their usual agenda of keeping "scary" news about things which they can't deal with effectively from the public as much as possible, and hyping real or even fake scares which they think they can present plausable plans for.
Unfortunately, that means that we need to gather our own information and rely more on instinct (do you trust government or your own common sense) and a sense of history (have governments ever misled citizens before, especially for the "best" of reasons?
So, I have reluctantly begun a Bird Flu research category.
The very first thing you need to know is that the number of bird flu cases in humans has almost certainly been wildly understated.
The common sense reasons for this are obvious:
In poor rural areas, especially in third-world countries, who would know what illness someone had or why they had died?
Would a supersticious peasant family want neighbors to know someone had dies of a mysterious illness?
Would a poor family want their only food source destroyed by the government.
Wouldn't some countries try to avoid reporting even known cases because it would harm trade and tourism?
Would a health department in a dictatorship want to admit to the problem and take "the blame" for all the ramifications?
Ok, there are other reasons but I won't belabor the point, you can't necessarily believe what governments report.
But I don't just rely on my own experience and reasoning in medical matters except to decide if something makes sense.
The BBC has reported results from a Sweedish study that, in turn, claims there has been massive under-reporting of human bird flu infections and deaths.
The study involved only Vietnam where there have been 87 "reported" cases. The study concludes that there have probably been more like 750 cases directly related to birds and that there may have been as many as 8,000.
At a minimum that means that the problem is at least 10 times worse than is being reported in mainstream media.
Meanwhile, in Turkey we have seen the first deaths due to Bird Flu outside eastern and southeastern Asia. Three teenagers died of what is almost certainly a varient of H5N1 (bird flu) in the first week of January and Bloomberg News reported on January 10 that more cases have been discovered in children - there have been as many as 15 cases reported in Turkey and the weather is so bad in the affected region that there may be many more undiscovered cases.
"Pandemics can cause large surges in the numbers of people requiring or seeking medical or hospital treatment, temporarily overwhelming health services. High rates of worker absenteeism can also interrupt other essential services, such as law enforcement, transportation, and communications. Because populations will be fully susceptible to an H5N1-like virus, rates of illness could peak fairly rapidly within a given community. This means that local social and economic disruptions may be temporary. They may, however, be amplified in today’s closely interrelated and interdependent systems of trade and commerce.
Based on past experience, a second wave of global spread should be anticipated within a year.
As all countries are likely to experience emergency conditions during a pandemic, opportunities for inter-country assistance, as seen during natural disasters or localized disease outbreaks, may be curtailed once international spread has begun and governments focus on protecting domestic populations.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (OSHA), “Most human influenza infections are spread by virus-laden respiratory droplets that are expelled during coughing and sneezing. Influenza viruses range in size from 0.08 to 0.12 micrometers.6 They are carried in respiratory secretions as small-particle aerosols (less than 10 micrometers in diameter).”
So, the masks you wear to protect yourself from aerosol flu infection only need to block water droplets about 10 microns in size, much, much larger than the actual virus and this is possible.
says the 3M model 8835 mask would provide good protection – this is not the thin dust mask you see people wearing all the time, it is a fairly large mask but reasonably priced around $25 U.S. for a box of 5.
Tamiflu is thought to be the best protection, but the latest reports say it may not be effective and, in any case, the U.S. Government has been blocking attempts to permit imports of generic versions despite a desperate shortage..
Governments are telling people not to try and hoard or stock up on the anti-viral but, since there is none available, they aren't really pushing the idea because they don't want to cause panic by raising the thought in people's silly little heads that they aren't safe.
There certainly isn't enough to take to prevent catching the flu, but if you have some on hand, don't toss it out, it may help cure the bird flu, although this isn't certain.
Relenza may also be a protection.
It will take a year or more to produce a vaccine in quantity (after the flu starts to spread among humans) and it is grown in chicken eggs -guess what happens to chickens and egg production? The isolated “safe” flocks for vaccine production are very limited in size.
Even with an effective vaccine available it is expected to take at least two shots a month apart to begin to develop immunity.
Don't eat chicken?
Surprisingly enough, it is usually safe to eat even a sick chicken.
You don’t need to fear eating chicken, even infected birds, if properly cooked – according to the WHO, the H5-N1 virus is killed in normal cooking (no pink parts and no runny egg yolks.) Also, H5-N1 isn't transmitted by ingestion.
Engineered from the common cold adenovirus, if effective in humans, it is expected to remain effective against all strains of H5N1, even a human-to-human transmittable version.
"This recombinant vaccine can stimulate several lines of defense against the H5N1 virus, giving it greater therapeutic value," according to Simon Barratt-Boyes of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and a member of the team. More importantly, it suggests that even if H5N1 mutates, the vaccine is still likely to be effective against it."
Nov 1 A big problem in tracking the threat from bird flu is the poor reporting from many Asian countries. It has just now been disclosed that pigs were found with H5N1 infections on Bali - LAST JULY! Of course this is potentially serious because pigs and humans share a lot of the same diseases. Pigs could be a major breeding place where human flu and bird flu strains could share genetic material.
Oct 31 New H5N1 Fujian strain, immune to vaccine, spreading rapidly in SE Asia. Antibodies which were effective against earlier Yunnan and Guiyang strains did not work against the new strain. This means all the poultry vaccinations which have taken place will not stop or slow the spread of H5N1. At least one human case of the new strain is suspected. Scientific American article.
Oct 23 Vietnam Stocks up: "The MoH has also amassed 1,000 respiratory machines, 500,000 sets of on-the-job protection clothing, 500,000 special comforters, 500,000 sets of gloves and 1,000 sprayers of all kinds." They also purchased 1 million doses of Tamiflu. (The White House says this is a "local" problem, what has your town done to prepare? Has it done as well as a third-world country?)
Oct14 "WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Northern pintail birds in Ohio have tested positive for a low-pathogenic strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus, the U.S. government said on Saturday, adding to recent cases in Pennsylvania [Sept.], Maryland and Michigan [Aug.]." This is a low-threat strain, but worrying.
July 26 GlaxoSmithKline (UK) says it has developed H5N1 vaccine.
July 24 (Reuters) Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases indicates bird hunters probably at risk for bird flu from infected birds.
July 13 WHO failed to give full details on Indonesian family cluster. Reuters reports that there were 32 mutations just in that family and Nature is reporting that one mutation was resistant to the anti-viral drug amantadine (aka Symmetrel and Endantadine). (Family tragedy spotlights flu mutations, Declan Butler
SUMMARY: Human-to-human transmission raises demand for DNA data.
CONTEXT: A strain of avian flu that spread through a family in Indonesia, killing seven of the eight people infected, was accumulating mutations as it spread from person to person,.
June 03 A nurse who never had contact with poultry but who treated an infected patient may have contracted Bird Flu.
June 02 Reuters reports a confirmed new outbreak of Bird Flu in poultry at the part of southern Niger near the heavily populated Nigeria.
May 29 Bird Flu varieties widespread in Indonesia with 7 recent deaths - one earlier case was reclassified as H5N1 death. Six cases (three fatal so far) NOT related to the family cluster reported below. See WHO Document. Pittsburgh-based Recombinomics.com says one case in West Java shows mamalian strain not seen in birds.
May 20 Indonesian cluster shows containment won’t work. An H5N1-infected family of 7 (6 dead within 3 weeks) had no exposure to poultry. WHO strategy of fast isolation and containment met with government road blocks and peasant fear. Such a cluster is expected to be the first indication of person-to-person virus transmission which would lead to the pandemic.
Mar 2/3 Am I an alarmist? Dead birds from the Bahamas are now being tested. How long does it take a bird to fly 60 miles to the U.S.? Also, Bush tripled the standing order of anti-viral drugs and Canada has quarantined bird farms which have imported ducks from France.
Mar 1 Experts call for use of new U.S. military labs to deal with bird flu.
Mar 1 More deaths in Indonesia, France and Switzerland report more sick birds.
Mar 1 Germany places restrictions on dog and pat pet movements.
Mar 1 By triggering Cytokine production and lung failure in otherwise healthy, the mortality rate is 90% for those under age of 15.
Feb. 28, Bird Flu migrates to a cat in Germany - first cross-species infection in Europe.
Vets Say Threat REAL: A February 28 vetrinarian conference in Paris concluded "the lethal H5N1 avian flu virus is “already widespread in several countries of Europe and that the spread of the infection to domestic poultry in other European and neighbouring countries is highly likely,"
Feb. 28 France and Sweeden both have infected birds.
The 1918-1919 Flu killed 50 million plus.
The 1968 Hong Kong flu killed 1 million in the U.S.
This site does NOT provide medical advice, it provides summaries and links to information in medical journals and my aim is to provide medical professionals and patients with vital information which can be used to guide medical professionals in the treatment of various difficult-to-treat conditions.
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