2008 the year of the Flu Pandemic?

I have been following the H5N1 virus for a while now.
Since the year 2003, the bird flu virus repeatedly seems to appeare out of no where, for no visible reason, mostly in a remote (from the point of view of the west) country in the far east and then, after a short period of local panic, the virus disappears, again for no provable reason.
We have gotten used to this peak-a-boo game, with the deadliest of potential dangers to mankind to such an extent, that there are “journalists” taking bets against the chance of a pandemic-in-our-time.
There are others who think that bird flu is a social network tool and have regular get together shindings and a jolly good knees-up.
This year is different however.
The year started with the H5N1 virus ruling the roost, so to speak, in 10 countries just in the first 15 days of the year!
This time the outbreaks of the virus seem to be spreading much faster over a much wider area.
Portugal, Dominica, Israel, Benin, Vietnam, China, West Bengal in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar have all been hit by outbreaks.
On Wednesday, a fourth swan died of the H5N1 virus in the Abbotsbury reserve in Dorset, southern England.
So can this be the year that the dreaded pandemic visits mankind once again?
With the US Presidential election in full swing, will any one pay attention to what could be a vast shadow creeping silently over all of us?
Come to think of it, did any of the Presidential Candidates mention bird flu in any of the debates?
Is it even politically correct to mention the bird flu virus these days?
I mean would the color of the poultry and the birds (other than the totally white British swans) come into play?
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free Tamiflu for all visitors to Indonesia?

You have to hand it to the Indonesians for their chutzpah, in launching the new Visit Indonesia 2008 tourism campaign, at the same time as we hear about at least five Indonesians apparently infected with the deadly bird flu virus.
The campaign slogan, inaugurated by Indonesian Tourism Minister Jero Wacik last week, is also plastered on Indonesia’s flag carrier Garuda planes, Website and on its promotional TV ads, with a tag line: “Celebrating 100 years of a nation’s awakening”.
Some have suggested that the new slogan should be “free Tamiflu for all visitors to Indonesia” instead!
The country is embarking on the campaign to revive its flagging tourism industry which recorded a drop of about four million foreign tourist arrivals, in 2006.
Some of the reasons for the drop in tourism are:
Indonesia’s has not been in the good books of its Gods and the country has had to go through multiple disasters one after the other.
There was the devastating 2004 year-end tsunami, followed by severe flooding and there have been several volcanic eruptions since then.
Also, due to numerous air crashes, some involves its national carrier Garuda, air travel, which is a necessity for residents of the country’s far-flung islands, saftey has also become an issue.
To top it all, the European Union has banned Indonesian air carriers flying over the EU airspace!.
Then there have been a series of bombings by Islamic-based extremist group which operates under the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) organization in the Southeast Asian region has kept tourists further at bay.

A Jakarta court has just opened the trial of Abu Dujana, who is being charged with plotting terrorist activities, including in possession of explosives.

He is being blamed for the 2002 Bali bombings, which resulted in the death of 202 people, mostly Australian tourists.

However, the most worrying problem for the potential visitors to Indonesia is of course the Bird Flu virus, which has killed more people in Indonesia to date, than any where else in the world.

Siti Supari, the controversial Indonesian Health Minister has not made things easy for her country, by taking on the WHO and other global agencies by refusing to let the world scientific community have the tssue samples, from the Indonesian victims of theBird Flu virus.

The government’s apparent poor handling of the on-going bird flu health scare which undoubtedly will be on the mind of tourists visiting the country.

May be they should offer free Tamiflu to all tourists to Indonesia, just in case.

Source:

http://www.eturbonews.com/470/indonesia-launches-2008-tourism-campaign-howls-protest

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.

http://www.antara.co.id/en/arc/2007/12/11/indonesian-plant-seller-suspected-of-bird-flu-death-ministry/ 

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gGA9CiE7_wp_PvqOkvdQhNtDEeyA

http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/administration/afp-news.html?id=071211174315.xz87pds3&cat=null

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.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUKSEO9157220071211

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.

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=12169841&PageNum=0

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20071211/91905749.html

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.

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/consumer/article.html?in_article_id=427456&in_page_id=5

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!

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_press_notices/pn101207igo.cfm

More Human Bird Flu 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.

Two positive results of tests on blood and tissue samples from a victim are needed before Indonesian authorities confirm a bird flu infection.

Muhammad Nadhirin, an official at the centre, said that a team of five experts had been dispatched on Monday to the victim’s neighbourhood.

The team said that “the source of infection could be from poultry 100 metres (yards) away from the victim’s house, but we’re waiting for test results on whether the poultry is infected with the virus,” Nadhirin told AFP.

“The first test by the health ministry’s laboratory confirmed that she was infected with H5N1, but we are still awaiting the results of the second test,” said doctor Memed.

Two positive results of tests on blood and tissue samples from a victim are needed before Indonesian authorities confirm a bird flu infection here.

Dr. Memed said that it was still being determined whether the woman had been in contact with infected poultry or birds, the usual method of transmission of the virus to humans.“Teams are currently deployed in her neighbourhood to determine the source of infection,” Memed added.

Unkind people in Indonesia are (no doubt maliciously) suggesting that the Indonesian Health Minister, Siti Supari, is boasting that Indonesia now has the largest amount of Bird Flu human tissue samples in the world.

http://www.antara.co.id/en/arc/2007/12/11/indonesian-plant-seller-suspected-of-bird-flu-death-ministry/

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gGA9CiE7_wp_PvqOkvdQhNtDEeyA

http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/administration/afp-news.html?id=071211174315.xz87pds3&cat=null

www.birdflubreakingnews.com

Supari the Amazing Indonesian Health Minister

Here is a great Q & A session with Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Health Minister, from IndCoup, a really resourceful blogger  from Jakarta.

(I found the blog on the blogs section of the www.birdflubreakingnews.com)  

The Health Minister talks about the TREE MAN, she is against Indonesians exercising, suggests that NOT smoking is more harmful than smoking and has amazing ideas about breakfast and er.. a certain part of the male anatomy!

Here is an excerpt (and the entire interview follows below):

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a bit soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. So you should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger tummy.

Q: Onto sex. What do you think of condoms?

A: Yes they are good idea – I purchased one recently in Jakarta at Sudirman Park for Rp3 billion. Not sure what they’ve got to do with sex though.

Q: No I mean condoms not condos. You know fiesta, durex and the like. But anyway do you think Indonesia is doing enough to promote condom use?

A: Doing enough to promote condom use?! Of course we are! Haven’t you ever heard of Dolly?

Q: You were quoted as saying a penis was the greatest breakfast for women. Why?

A: Because it has a mushroom head, a sausage, two eggs and cream. All the nutrients to make a woman healthy and happy.

Here is the full Interview by IndCoup:

Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari is raising a storm for playing hardball with the WHO. We’ve caught up with her and asked her a few questions…

Q: I`ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong your life. Is this true?
A: Well, your heart is only good for so many beats, and that`s it… so don`t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; I mean that`s rather like saying you can extend the expected life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Just sleep all day long like most teenage Indonesians do.
Q: Should Indonesians exercise more?
A: No. Why should they? My philosophy is: No Pain Is Good.
Q: The WHO estimates at least 25% of all deaths in Indonesia by 2020 will be due to cigarette smoking…
A: But the other 75% will be deaths from NOT smoking – clear proof that NOT smoking is more harmful than smoking.
Q: But Siti – scientists have proven that cigarettes are harmful to the health of children…
A: Fair enough, use an ashtray.
Q: The average Indonesian diet is drowning in fat. Everything seems to be fried. Your opinion?
A: Foods these days are fried in vegetable oil. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: What`s the secret to healthy eating?
A: More vegetables. Eat up your nasi goreng.
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a bit soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. So you should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger tummy.
Q: Onto sex. What do you think of condoms?
A: Yes they are good idea – I purchased one recently in Jakarta at Sudirman Park for Rp3 billion. Not sure what they’ve got to do with sex though.
Q: No I mean condoms not condos. You know fiesta, durex and the like. But anyway do you think Indonesia is doing enough to promote condom use?
A: Doing enough to promote condom use?! Of course we are! Haven’t you ever heard of Dolly?
Q: You were quoted as saying a penis was the greatest breakfast for women. Why?
A: Because it has a mushroom head, a sausage, two eggs and cream. All the nutrients to make a woman healthy and happy.
Q: Onto “Tree Man” Dede. Why won’t you let him get treatment in the US?
A: To show how much we care about him, we just so happened to appoint a team of doctors the day the story was broken on the Discovery Channel. Prior to that he had lived a peaceful life and didn’t need any help whatsoever. He was even making a good living by working as part of a local Freak Show. His ailment is a blessing and not a curse! And now you think we should allow him to get free medical treatment overseas?!! My God as if any Indonesian would want that!!! … but paying for it ourselves is okay of course … (smiles, blushes slightly)
Q: And what about WHO claims that Indonesia’s refusal to share bird flu virus samples raises the risk of a global pandemic breaking out?
A: As if these foreigners would do anything for us!
Q: Er.. aren’t you forgetting Aceh?
A: Mau minum segelas Bir Bintang mister? It’s made from vegetables you know….

 Siti Fadilah Supari

Indonesian Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari

Sources:

http://indcoup.blogspot.com/2007/11/exclusive-q-session-with-siti-fadilah.html

www.birdflubreakingnews.com

There are FIVE Bird-Flu Viruses now!

According to TEMPO INTERAKTIF, the premier Indonesian Magazine, the development of H5N1 bird flu virus in Indonesia has been faster than that of any other country. 

In fact it appears that the Bird-Flu virus in Indonesia, has mutated and split in to Five different varieties of the H5N1 strain.

AIRLANGGA UNIVERSITY.

Dr.C.A. Nidom a molecular biology researcher from Airlangga University, Surabaya, said on Monday (26/11),

that in Indonesia the H5N1 virus has already mutated to five subdivisions.


“In other countries however, the mutation found was only three virus variants,” said Dr. Nidom.

The subdivisions of mutated virus in Indonesia are divided into type A, B, C, C1 and D.Categories A and B have spread in Sumatra, with category C in Kalimantan.

Category C1 has spread in several places, while category D is found in Papua and southern Sumatra.

“We’re also surprised that the virus in Indonesia is under local law, so between one area and

 the other they’re different. The virus even mutated,” added Dr Nidom.

Therefore, now a molecular review is still required in order to identify the different characteristics

of the virus types.

That way different strains of the virus can be handled differently, according to their individual characteristics.

Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Health Minister

Sources:

http://www.tempointeraktif.com/hg/nasional/2007/11/26/brk,20071126-112338,uk.html

www.birdflubreakingnews.com

Indonesia wants Weird Treeman’s Virus samples back

In an amazing outburst, Indonesia’s Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari, lambasted the US doctor currently treating the 35-year-old man, who has the rare affliction caused by the Human Papilloma Virus.

The Indonesian fisherman who developed tree-like growths on his hands and feet was being treated by specialist doctors who had taken some blood samples from him in order to try and find the right treatment for the disease.

Instead of being thankful to the doctors for their efforts, the Indonesian Health Minister criticised the doctors trying to treat the afflicted fisherman.

Mrs Supari, who has famously refused to share bird flu samples with international scientists, made her comments on Sunday after returning from a World Health Organisation (WHO) conference in Geneva.

“We are offended because the samples were taken from Dede without our permission,” she told reporters at the hospital where the man was being treated. “If they are taken abroad, they could become lucrative commodities.”

Her comments have now offended Dr Gaspari, an American dermatologist at the University of Maryland, who maintains that, while he took the samples without permission, his sole motivation was getting treatment for the man.

Known simply as Dede, the man, who lives in a village south of the capital Jakarta, has massive root-like warts growing from his arms and legs which have gone untreated for years.

“We did take samples, and the reason we did was to render a diagnosis. We did it for humanitarian reasons, to help the patient,” Dr Gaspari said, stressing his willingness to put in writing that the samples were not for commercial use.

Mrs Supari has steadfastly refused to share samples of the deadly H5N1 strain of the Flu virus.

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/26/wtree126.xml

www.birdflubreakingnews.com