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December 24, 2006


An Egyptian woman died of bird flu today, only hours after tests confirmed she had been suffering from the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, a World Health Organization official said.

Hassan el-Bushra, regional adviser for communicable diseases surveillance at the WHO, said the 30-year-old woman had been in hospital since mid-December, but doctors had not immediately suspected bird flu as she denied having had contact with poultry.

Her death brings the number of total human deaths from H5N1 in Egypt to eight.


where did we throw $9B?

BARDA, plans to reinvigorate the vaccine industry, and tamiflu purchase.

In announcing the strategic plan, President Bush sent a budget request to Congress seeking $7.1 billion in emergency spending for the departments of HHS, Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, State and Veterans Affairs.33 The proposed funding would: (1) support enhanced domestic and international planning and surveillance activities ($259 million requested); (2) purchase stockpiles of vaccines and antiviral drugs, and accelerate the development of new vaccine technologies ($6.242 billion requested); and (3) aid in federal, state and local preparedness efforts ($644 million requested.)

I think Bush got 5.5B, and the rest might (if Oxford is correct) be private/business and state money spent.

please, talk to an epidemiologist, or several, so we can end this discussion and paranoia. with a mutating virus, you have about the same odds as stopping it as we would a meteor dropping in.
however, if your body isn't sensitive to the elements that make a chicken ill with the flu, you may not be affected by the same flu. does no one understand the solution to such an obvious problem? Do you recall the reactions people had to early viral therapy? Do you recall their being an issue with the type of animal used and the exposure of the victim?
now I am no physician or epidemiologist by any means, but ignoring facts and historical data is not real helpful when we try to examine a then and now scenario with a mutant virus. some scientists might have all ready put forth the solutions, but many people don't have the will to do what is better for them with a plethora of choices. many ignore facts that are not contradicted by their education or religion, or their physical condition. choices are often made without a firm grasp of reality.
I think that science is ignoring an obvious solution (for some), due to it's likely lack of popular support.

oldtree, since I haven't a clue as to what you are talking about, all i can tell you is that a senior epiudemiologist helped start Flu Wiki with me, and I talk to scientists and epidemiologists about this almost daily. They are all in agreement that this is a special virus that bears watching.

As far as stopping it, that may not be possible. But mitigating it is worth the effort. To not do so would be criminal.

Now what the heck are you trying to say? Spell it out.

DemFromCT, thanks. No critical thought here on policy, by the way, just trying to keep abreast of health spending. Looks like the lion's share went to vaccine production. Don't bother looking these answers up unless you're interested (I can google as well, just being lazy), but I'm wondering: (a) how much of the vaccine money went to production vs. R&D; (b) how much R&D went to private vs. public research; (c) how much a dose of Tamiflu costs, i.e., how many people does $4B to $6B set us up to help; (d) didn't we send any money abroad to encourage monitoring & clean-up in other countries where H5N1 already is?

oldtree, all viruses mutate.

'pockets, if the toolbox includes Things That Might Help Save Lives In A Pandemic, vaccine is the power tool. And the Holy Grail is a universal flu vaccine that could work no matter the sub-type. Such a vaccine could be not only made but administered in advance.

R&D and, yes, basic science would have to be improved to create such a thing. So we're talking about a Manhattan Project for biology. At least that's what Frist called it.

Problem with the Manhattan Project Analogy -- it was off budget and super secret until that August morn over Hiroshima in 1945. I don't think we want any serious secrecy policy attached to this effort. Dropping the bomb was about closing out a war we were winning on land and sea to both our military and political advantage. Hopefully we will not view Flu Virus research in the same frame.

I suspect the major vaccine issue will be the technology of production, as efforts go forward to grow it in media other than eggs, and in greater volume as need becomes evident. I'd hate to see the kind of "thinking" that went into the production of body armor and up-armored Humvees the Rummy Pentagon engaged in being the "lead thought" should massive vaccine production be in order.

I also believe that more than tamiflu type products, we need real education across the landscape regarding how a virus such as this could spread -- and what systematic preventitive plans need to be in place in order to minimize spread. If schools are to be closed -- how do you prevent unsupervised children essentially spreading the virus if businesses are unwilling to plan for parallel shut-downs, allowing all parents to stay home? Shouldn't all air travel be the first target for total shut-down given the likely vector of infection and the closed nature of the air supply on commercial planes?

I guess I am old enough to have heard my grandparents talk about the 1918-19 Flu pandemic. My Grandmother had the Flu and eventually recovered -- and my Dad nursed her without ever getting it, though they put my Grandfather in a different room in the house, and didn't allow him to be exposed. He had memory of putting everything out of the sick room into boiling water before re-use (bed linens and dishes), building a frame like a screen door over which multiple layers of fine cotton were stretched, so as to keep "germs" (they didn't understand virus then) inside the sick room, and spraying it with some sort of antiseptic an uncle who was a dentist had to offer. Of course no one knows if any of this did any good -- my dad claimed it was when he learned to make chicken soup and tea -- and that plus the many more years of life my Grandmother had, may be the only beneficial outcomes of what they did in 1919. But I can remember as a kid going with him to see the local graveyard for that town, and for a place with about 900 residents, about 125 of them died, and many many more were sick. If you live near an old small town, go look at the graveyard and the dates and ages.

On an earlier thread mention was made of immune systems -- and I think there may be some misunderstanding of how this plays into this kind of Flu. Mortality was greatest among the young adult - early middle age groups -- those who probably had the better immune systems. What killed them was the massive response of the immune system to lung infection, in essence drown in secretions. Younger and older people had a considerably lower mortality rate, and that could be because their immune systems did not react as strongly. It could also be that the elderly had some protection from earlier epidemics, and perhaps the younger ones had some inherited immunity.

I am also struck by the pictures of the wards of those days -- no one is propped up in bed, they are all flat on their backs. It is just much easier to cough up if you are propped up than if you are prone. Anyone who has had a good old fashioned chest cold knows this.

one can't draw conclusions from insufficient data. mutating virus change, therefore we can't create a solution for one without beginning the chain that creates the new one, perhaps resistant to what had just been created.
If is fine for the CDC and other bodies to work to create such a solution, by all means. But we have never been able to stop one before, for we do not have the technology yet to deal with a mutating virus that can be spread world wide in a 24 hour period.
some people do not get the flu. some people became vastly ill taking remedies to the flu, some have no reaction at all, for the current version they have been exposed to is not what is affecting them now.

this is much like a discussion of religion. what is and what isn't? projecting the path of a hurricane before it starts would be easier. developing a paranoia about what could happen isn't going to do anything positive. People in varying countries kill their livestock, has this stopped the spread?

until the scientists find anything that helps, do we continue to muddy the waters about what could, might, may, happen? planets mutate over time beyond our grasp, the evolution can take billions of years. the virus seems to work much faster. clearly, working on that which the virus does is more critical in the short term, but try to compare it to our attempt to affect cosmology perhaps?
I just don't see how alarming anyone about something so unpredictable can be a good thing. sure, we can have a mutation that produces something that could kill a lot of us. But we might also have the mutation go the other way, like so many trillions, squared, before it.
what exactly do we do? hype it? that is the language of power and subjugation to the will of another. Have their been any recommendations by the CDC to end it? any other body giving us ways of fighting it?

sorry, but dealing with something in a logical order would be more productive than to make people deathly afraid of something that could easily mutate into something else before we destroy, for example, the poultry on the entire planet? this sounds more like a trip back in time to the inquisition. the more bad information we have in advance of science, the more mistakes we will make trying to solve the issue.
IF, the issue exists

I have never heard of a lynching that couldn't have been avoided with reason. there are so many factors between emotion and reason though. with people involved, lynchings are just more common.

If something like a flu pandmeic ever happened, we'd be learning and relearning much of what our grandparents already knew, discarding what doen't work medically, but learning lots about self-sufficiency..

oldtree, you're still not making sense. start with some basics:People in varying countries kill their livestock, has this stopped the spread?Arguably, yes. Wild fowl shouldn't be killed, but highly pathogenic flu kills poultry. Culling and cleaning and closing down live bird markets helped tremendously in 1997 Hong Kong.

Does preparation mean fear and hype? Of course not. Prudent prep is needed for many of nature's disasters. The Pacific Northwest learned this (again) in the recent windstorm. every New englander knopws what an ice storm can do.

At the level of personal/family if you pretend there's nothing you can do, you'll still have the same emergency, only with about a 3 minute warning. Better to stock a reasonable amount of food, water, batteries flashlights, etc beforehand.

At the level of policy, planning for school closures and understanding why money might be best spent on vaccine reaearch/basic science (with oversight!) seems prudent as well. And pushing your local hospital and community to be a bit more resilient instead of waiting to take orders from FEMA seems eminently sensible.

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