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January 22, 2005

Vietnam reports two more bird flu deaths: CDC says an influenza pandemic possible with high rates of illness and death

Topics: Health Issues

On Dec 10, 2004 I reported that China had expressed concerns that   Up To 100" Million People Could Die from Avian Influenza.  Avian influenza is continuing to increase in frequency of outbreaks. WHO is concerned that it can become a global epidemic (pandemic). Avian influenza (bird flu) kills people, and lots of them. Why haven't the MSM picked up on this fact?

To Quote from the CDC's own assessment of the situation:
"If these H5N1 viruses gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission between humans, there is little preexisting natural immunity to H5N1 in the human population, and an influenza pandemic could result, with high rates of illness and death." (see extended post)

- 7 News(Australia)
Vietnam on Saturday reported two more bird flu deaths, bringing the human toll to nine in three weeks, as leaders of the World Health Organisation planned to discuss preparations for a possible global flu pandemic.

(...)  The United States submitted a special request to WHO's executive board asking it to discuss bird flu at its current meeting in Geneva. It stressed the importance of strengthening outbreak surveillance, producing a vaccine and formulating an international plan to prepare for a possible pandemic.

(...)  "The more we have these frequent outbreaks, the higher the risk is that the virus would change and become more contagious and be more easily spread among humans," said Hans Troedsson, WHO representative in Vietnam. "If we have that combination ... and we have a high case fatality rate, the outcome of such would be horrendous."   -End item

In my Jan 20 post entitled "Bird flu may evolve into epidemic: WHO," and in several earlier posts(such as here and here) on the same subject dating back to Dec 10, 2004 entitled "Bird Flu(Avian Influenza) Outbreak Fears Spark Action - Up To 100 Million People Could Die," I have been warning of the developing threat of an avian influenza epidemic. The following snipets are from my earliest post on the potential epidemic, in which I wrote:

(...) ...according to "Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 May 25;101(21):8156-61. Epub 2004 May 17," the hemagglutinin of recent human isolates has undergone significant antigenic drift. Like the 1997 human H5N1 isolates, the 2003 human H5N1 isolates induced the overproduction of proinflammatory cytokines by primary human macrophages in vitro, whereas the precursor H5N1 viruses and other H5N1 reassortants isolated in 2001 did not.

(...) This acquisition by the viruses of characteristics that enhance virulence in humans and waterfowl and their potential for wider distribution by infected migrating birds (unlike the precursor H5N1 viruses and other H5N1 reassortants of 2001) are causes for renewed pandemic concern.

(...)  I predict that we are going to hear much more about this in the near future.

It appears that the future I spoke of may be now much closer, and the preventative action that I previously have expressed a need for may soon be too late. Avian influenza (bird flu) kills people, and lots of them. For extensive information and links, go to my Dec 20 post.

See the extended post for the CDC assessment of the current situation.

CDC Assessment of Current Situation             (emphasis added)    

The avian influenza A (H5N1) epizootic outbreak in Asia is not expected to diminish significantly in the short term. It is likely that H5N1 infection among birds has become endemic to the region and that human infections will continue to occur. So far, no sustained human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus has been identified and no evidence for genetic reassortment between human and avian influenza virus genes has been found; however, the epizootic outbreak in Asia poses an important public health threat.                  

If these H5N1 viruses gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission between humans, there is little preexisting natural immunity to H5N1 in the human population, and an influenza pandemic could result, with high rates of illness and death. In addition, genetic sequencing of influenza A (H5N1) virus samples from human cases in Vietnam and Thailand show resistance to the antiviral medications amantadine and rimantadine, 2 of the medications commonly used for treatment of influenza. This would leave 2 remaining antiviral medications (oseltamavir and zanamavir) that should still be effective against currently circulating strains of H5N1. Efforts to produce a vaccine that would be effective against this strain of influenza A H5N1 are under way. Vaccine reference virus strains already have been made and provided to manufacturers to produce pilot lots for human clinical trials as well as to produce a larger quantity of H5N1 vaccine, but mass production and availability of such a vaccine is some time off.                  

Recent research findings give further cause for concern. New research suggests that H5 viruses are becoming more capable of causing disease (pathogenic) for mammals than earlier H5 viruses and are becoming more widespread in birds in the region. One study found that ducks infected with H5N1 are now shedding more virus for longer periods of time without showing any symptoms of illness. This has implications for the role of ducks in transmitting disease to other birds and possibly, to humans as well. Additionally, other findings have documented H5 infection among pigs in China and H5 infection in felines (experimental infection in housecats in the Netherlands and isolation of H5N1 viruses from infected tigers and leopards in Thailand), suggesting that cats could host or transmit the infection. These finding are particularly worrisome in light of the fact that reassortment of avian influenza genomes is most likely to occur when these viruses demonstrate a capacity to infect multiple species, as is now the case in Asia.

Posted by Hyscience at January 22, 2005 7:47 PM



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