Bird flu rising – 08/26/2005

  • November 11, 2013 at 10:29 pm #946

    Hi Bill and All
    I don’t know if this is OT, but it sure is noteworthy.
    World slow to face bird flu threat
    By Adam Blenford
    BBC News

    Plans for a global response to a mass outbreak of bird flu in humans
    are taking shape, but are far from complete.
    Public health experts and epidemiologists are issuing shrill
    warnings about the dangers a pandemic would pose to human health
    around the world.

    Any confirmation that the H5N1 bird flu virus has become capable of
    human-to-human transmission will send the World Health
    Organisation’s pandemic alert level, currently at Level 3, soaring
    towards the highest state of danger, Level 6.
    Air travel could be among the first casualties of a global panic as
    governments try to prevent the disease spreading.
    “There may be some small restrictions imposed in the early days of a
    pandemic,” Dick Thompson of the WHO told the BBC News website.
    “But they will fail, because infected people will not yet be showing

    Bird flu

    While emergency services in many countries train regularly to cope
    with major terror attacks, convincing national governments to draw
    up and implement expensive plans for disease containment is proving
    hard work.

    Just 40 governments around the world have submitted plans for
    dealing with a pandemic to the WHO.

    The majority of those are wealthy western nations – not the Asian
    countries where the H5N1 avian influenza virus has taken hold and
    killed 57 people.

    Asian epicentre

    The detection of bird flu in Russia has jolted European nations
    towards action, fearful that migration patterns could spread the
    virus westwards.
    Tamsin Rose, secretary general of the European Public Health
    Alliance, which represents 115 European NGOs in Brussels, fears that
    a lack of planning could undermine efforts to contain the virus.

    Bird flu spread in Thailand: computer model map of new cases (red)
    and where the epidemic has finished (green) 60-90 days after an
    uncontrolled outbreak
    “There needs to be clear guidance on what civil society needs to
    do,” she told the BBC News website.
    “Which key workers are needed to help out? Will schools be closed
    and turned into triage centres? How ready are we for this effort? We
    can’t see our members getting ready for this.”
    Indeed, experts trying to forecast the outbreak of a human pandemic
    are still focusing on south-east Asia, not Europe or north America.

    In a recent simulation designed to assess the likelihood of
    containing an outbreak in that region, scientists concluded that the
    bird flu virus could be contained by rapid identification of the
    source of infection, combined with quick and intensive distribution
    of anti-viral drugs.
    An international stockpile of anti-viral drugs should be established
    to enable rapid distribution in the event of an outbreak, the study

    The findings, published in the journal Nature at the start of
    August, were broadly welcomed by the WHO.
    In response, pharmaceutical giant Roche has pledged to make three
    million courses of its anti-viral drug Tamiflu available to the

    Distributing them effectively is another matter. Thus far, agreement
    extends to a “promise” from Roche to ship the drugs to an
    international airport near the outbreak.

    ‘Pandemic inevitable’

    On the ground, mankind’s fight against a potentially deadly virus
    will fall into the hands of highly skilled volunteers.
    With little manpower of its own, the WHO operates a worldwide
    volunteer known as the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.

    A pandemic would change society as we know it. And no-one seems

    Tamsin Rose
    European Public Health Alliance

    Small teams of epidemiologists, database managers, intensive care
    staff and other experts can quickly be deployed to try to control an

    After the initial “firefighting”, though, responsibility must rest
    with national governments. If a pandemic develops, the WHO warns,
    relying on volunteers will be pointless.
    Secondary clusters of infection are unlikely to receive anti-viral
    drugs from any international stockpile, and governments will have to
    rely on their own supplies.

    In any case, those drugs already developed are unlikely to be
    entirely equipped to quell an outbreak of a mutated form of H5N1. An
    effective vaccine could take six months to develop once any new
    strain is identified.

    “We keep encouraging countries to develop a plan because a pandemic
    is inevitable,” Dick Thompson said, warning that between two million
    and seven million people around the world could die.
    Tamsin Rose of EPHA is less circumspect.
    “Millions and millions would die, and a pandemic would change
    society as we know it,” she said. “And no-one seems prepared.”

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