Bird flu warning: Antiviral pill may be useless

In 1933, MRC (Medical Research Council) researchers identified human influenza virus, at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in London – which was to become one of the most important centres in the world for flu research.

Since then the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) has been at the forefront of research in to the Influenza viruses.

It is therefore more than a little disturbing when Dr Alan Hay, a distinguished NIMR scientist drops a bombshell about the Human Influenza virus and the so called antiviral protection against the virus.

Apparently, all those countries which have been spending Millions of Dollars stockpiling Tamiflu, the main antiviral drug used to protect humans against the Bird Flu, have been wasting their money!

A Report co-authored by Alan Hay, of the UK’s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) says that the Tamiflu is useless against the mutations of the Bird Flu virus.

The report suggests that the mutations of the H5N1 Bird Flu virus, that have emerged in human influenza, are resistant to the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

However, according to the same report, the mutations are still “strongly inhibited” by an alternative drug, Relenza.

Both drugs are commonly stockpiled but governments both in Australia and around the world have favoured the more convenient Tamiflu pill ahead of the inhaled medicine Relenza.

“The mutations cause resistance to Tamiflu but not Relenza,” Dr Hay told ABC Radio.

“It’s clear that there is greater potential for Tamiflu-resistant viruses to emerge than was previously thought. Relying on a single drug is foolhardy when more than one drug is available.”

Dr Hay says one implication of the new research is that governments should stockpile greater courses of Relenza.

That is of course, until the new drug Relenza, also becomes useless against the influenza virus due to further mutations of the virus!



BirdFlu NewsFlashes Dec 11, 2007

Additional Bird Flu Victim Tissue Samples For Indonesia

There is yet another human death resulting from the Bird Flu virus in Indonesia.

A 28-year-old woman from the outskirts of the Indonesian capital has been confirmed as dying of bird flu, raising the toll in the nation worst affected by H5N1 to 92, the health ministry said Tuesday.

The victim, named Mutiah, lived in the satellite city of Tangerang, just west of Jakarta, where three other bird flu deaths have been reported since October.

Mutiah, who sold ornamental plants has died here with officials suspecting she may be the nation’s 92nd bird flu death, an official from the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

Two laboratory tests on the woman, who died on Monday at a hospital in Jakarta, showed that she was infected with the highly pathogenic virus, a statement from the ministry’s bird flu information centre said.

Unkind people in Indonesia are (no doubt maliciously) suggesting that the Indonesian Health Minister, Siti Supari is now boasting the largest amount of tissue samples in the world, from the Bird Flu victims, in the Indonesian Bird flu Human Tissue Bank.

Bird Flu case suspected at South Korea Poultry Farm.

Here we go again!

Even though its neighbour is protected from the Bird Flu virus due to the devine powers of its dear leader, South Korea has no such protection and has once again succumbed to the killer virus.

A report today Tuesday, from Reuters (Yonhap news agency)  tells us that ducks at a poultry farm tested positive for an antibody to a bird flu virus.

There was no information on which strain of bird flu, at the farm in Paju, around 24.85 miles north of Seoul, had been identified. Results of further testing should be known in about two weeks, a local official told Yonhap news agency.

South Korea’s agriculture ministry was unable immediately to confirm the Yonhap report.

Bird flu outbreak reported from farm in Russia’s Rostov region

A total of 35,000 chickens have died of flu at the Gulyai-Borisovskaya farm since December 5. The farm had 500,000 chickens. Lab tests confirmed it was the bird flu.

Marina Abramchenko, a spokeswoman for the local emergencies ministry said Tuesday.

Marina Abramchenko said the birds started dying November 29 from the lethal H5N1 virus at the farm, which holds some 500,000 birds, adding that quarantine restrictions have been introduced in the area.

“We have received the preliminary results of analysis,” Abramchenko said adding that the results showed traces of the H5N1 virus.

How to find the cheapest Christmas turkey in UK?

No. It is not by calling Barnard Matthews for one of his “Turkey Specials”.

It is suggested by “This is Money” (Part of the Daily Mail group) that even though the availability of organic birds in the UK has been hit, elsewhere the predictions that the price of a turkey would soar have failed to materialise.

After the recent bird flu outbreaks in the UK, there were fears that the cost of Christmas lunch could rocket this year – with Waitrose announcing it would have no organic turkeys this year. But while the availability of organic birds has been hit, elsewhere predictions that the price of a turkey would soar have failed to materialise.

British Lords to look in to the spread of infectious diseases

The British Lords have now decided to examine the effectiveness of action by intergovernmental organisations, to control the spread of infectious diseases.

Their Lordships are to examine how cross-border policy issues are being addressed through UK membership of intergovernmental bodies.

The Labour peer Lord Soley, Chairman of the new Committee, said:

“Infectious diseases are no respecters of national frontiers.  Much good work to prevent or control them is being done by a range of intergovernmental organisations of which the UK is a member.

“Our Committee wishes to assess how effective these efforts are proving to be and how well coordinated they are. We also want to see what intergovernmental preparations are being made to cope with emerging diseases.

“We will be focusing initially on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and Avian Influenza, all of them actual or potential killers on a large scale.

Of course with the recent accusations of “Money for titles” leveled at the British Government, added to the practice of the ex Prime Minister Blair of “stuffing the House of Lords with his labour cronies”, the Noble House of Lords is considered by some, to be not as NOBLE as it once was!

Global Bird-Flu Outbreak Map since 2003

Via ReliefWeb,

from the WHO, a very interesting visual diary of the global spread of the H5N1 virus, since the year 2003.

Map of 'World: Areas Reporting Confirmed Occurrence of H5N1 Avian Influenza in Poultry and Wild Birds Since 2003 (Status as of 27 Sep 2007)'

Click here:


Areas Reporting Confirmed Occurrence of H5N1 Avian Influenza in Poultry and Wild Birds Since 2003 (Status as of 27 Sep 2007)

Bird-Flu returns to Bangladesh

Bird-Flu in Bangladesh, again.

As if Bangladesh did not have enough problems with floods, crop failure with poverty levels that can not even be imagined by the western minds, the dreaded Bird-Flu virus has decided to pay a return visit to the impoverished country.

United News of Bangladesh (UNB) reports that nearly 6,000 chickens were culled at Sahapur village in Sadar sub-district in Bangladesh’s northwestern Bogra district, 170 km of capital Dhaka Tuesday night, following the detection of avian influenza virus in a poultry farm.

According to UNB, that on Wednesday, Nakul Saha, owner of the poultry farm, took several dead chickens for laboratory test on suspicion that they might have died of bird flu. It said that the laboratory test confirmed that the chickens had died of avian influenza.

This is a second outbreak of the H5N1 virus in Bangladesh during 2007.

The avian influenza virus was first detected in a poultry farm in Savar, 25 km west of the Dhaka in March this year. Laboratory test results showed the existence of influenza virus of H5N1 variety. Tens of thousands of poultry birds were culled.


Trains and Boats and Planes, will bring Bird-Flu…directly to you

Trains and boats and planes are passing by …

The trains and the boats and planes will bring Bird-Flu….

Will bring Bird-Flu… Bring it directly to you….

Let me take you back in time. Back to the year 1918.Life moved at a much more leisurely pace back then.

The fastest way to travel across the Atlantic was with an airship travelling at a bone shaking tens of miles an hour.

Using an ocean liner, It could take weeks to travel from China to Europe or to the US.

The world was really separated by the oceans then and the Americas, Australia, New Zealand etc were in reality cut off from the main mass of humanity on the great Eurasian Continent.

1918 Spanish Flu

The total human population on the planet at the time was a fraction of what it is today and the big Cities were not as congested as they are now.

It was very difficult for an infectious disease to spread across the globe in such conditions.

Never the less, the Pandemic Flu of 1918, DID manage to spread all over the world in an amazingly short period of time.

In doing so, it killed over 40 Million people from all parts of the world.

Yes, the returning soldiers from the Great War did help carry the deadly virus back to their homes.

Even so, it could not have been easy for the killer virus to reach every nook and corner of the globe as it did at that time.

Things are a lot different now!

The world is a much, much smaller place and you can travel across the Continents in a matter of hours.

The concentration of vast number of people in overpopulated cities is the modern witches brew for all kinds of deadly viruses.

The increasingly fast modes of travel, the trains and boats and planes, are the ideal distribution network for these messengers of death.

It is estimated that a highly infectious, airborne virus such as a Pandemic Super Flu, could spread all over the world withing 48 hours of an outbreak in any one country!

That is NOT to say that a Pandemic will happen soon,  or even in our life time.

 IF IT DOES though, the above provides us with a realistic if frightening scenario that could well follow.

Here is what WHO says about the above:

With an estimated 2.1 billion airline passengers roaming the planet last year alone, infectious diseases are spreading faster than ever before, the U.N. health agency said Thursday. The World Health Organization called on governments to follow its revised regulations for fighting dangerous health crises.

“New diseases are emerging at the historically unprecedented rate of one per year,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in an introduction to the annual World Health Report.


Bird-Flu threat to Moon Festival celebrations.

The Chinese Moon Festival, (also known as the Mid-autumn Festival) which is normally celebrated on the 15th of the 8th lunar month, is is one of the most important traditional events for the Chinese.

It is as important for the Chinese, as Christmas and Thanksgiving is for the people in the West

The Moon festival is famous for, among other things, its “Moon Cakes”.


Traditionally, Lovers are supposed to spend the romantic night of the Moon Festival together, tasting the delicious moon cake with some wine, while watching the full moon.

Even for two lovers who can not be together at that time, they can still enjoy the night by watching the full moon at the same time, so that they are emotionally together at that hour.

A lot of Chinese poetry has been devoted to this romantic festival which is said to bring happiness.

This year however, there could be a problem with the bringing of happiness via the Moon Cakes.

This culprit is the Bird-Flu virus, which is a real pain in the  er.. neck.

Bird flu

Not only is the Bird-Flu killing millions of birds and an increasing (though still limited) number of humans, but also, it is now causing all kind of life style problems for us all.

The Chinese Government has told its people not to take moon cakes containing egg yolk or meat abroad, because of the threat of bird flu and other such diseases.

The Foreign Ministry reminded people heading to Australia for the September 25 Mid-Autumn Festival of strict quarantine laws, which prohibit the import of a wide range of food for fear of diseases such as bird flu, Newcastle disease and foot and mouth.

The strict Ausi quarantine laws carry fines of up to $49 000 and 10 years’ jail for failure to declare banned foods.

Other countries could well have similar penalties for unauthorised import of egg based products such as Moon Cakes.


India “Surrounded” by Countries with Bird-Flu.

Mr Naresh Dayal, the Federal Health Secretary in the Government of India, worries about  the possibility of the Bird-Flu virus mutating in to a human to human virus.

“Worldwide, human-to-human transmission is feared. We have to be able to tackle that if, God forbid, it starts,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

Mr Dayal was very concerned about the fact that the counties neighbouring India seemed to have “uncontrolled” outbreaks of Bird-Flu.

“We are surrounded by countries with uncontrolled outbreaks in poultry and birds,” Dayal told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday. “And further, there is Vietnam and Indonesia.”                                              

Indonesia and Vietnam — both within a couple of hours flying distance from some Indian cities — have reported human deaths from bird flu this year.

Indonesia says it has 83 confirmed bird flu deaths since 2003, the highest for any nation.

In addition, Myanmar as well as Bangladesh, another two of India’s neighbour countries, have reported cases of Bird-Flu. 

India has stepped up vigil on its borders with Myanmar as well as Bangladesh, said Dayal, adding that New Delhi had offered to help its two neighbours fight the disease.

“We are willing to provide help to Bangladesh. It is also in our own interest,” he said, adding India was also ready to help Myanmar fight the virus if requested.

New Delhi has reported no human case from its three major outbreaks in poultry since 2006, but health officials are worried about its northeast region, which also borders China, where 16 human deaths have been reported since 2003.

Authorities are increasing the number of laboratories that can test for bird flu in humans.

Besides the three existing facilities, New Delhi will set up a new laboratory in Assam as well as Kolkata, Dayal said.