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?

Impact of Bird-Flu on the Map of Europe

The Impact of Bird-Flu on the Map of Europe

                                                               “Bird Flu Map”
 Thanks for the above to “Addshots”





Four Million French could get Flu this winter

Here is a story (via KUNA) that could have Michael Fumento, the “anti alarmist journalist” fuming away at the above mega alarmist headline from France. 

The news item sounds alarming, but apparently it also happens to be a fact!

The French daily “Liberation” quoted health sources as saying, in its edition published on Tuesday, that this years the Flu outbreak could take on “pandemic” proportions due to climatic factors and the strain of virus expected to hit the country.

Apparently, due to the effect of the “El Nino” climate system will provide either neutral or cold conditions in France during the above period and the range of flu cases could be between 3.2 million and 4.7 million, with a median of four million.

Flu specialists in France told the newspaper that predictions indicate that the flu will be the same as the one that hit Australia in July and August and it could hit France between October 2007 and the beginning of 2008.

France will begin selling vaccines against the flu on September 28 and these are available free of charge for children and elderly people, while others must pay for inoculation.

Last year, some two million people contracted the flu in France.


Approximation of actual country borders.  Click  on image for a detailed pdf version.





Impressive Anti Bird-Flu effort from The Government of India.

You have to admire the current efforts that the Government of India is apparently putting in to the control of the recently discovered Bird-Flu virus in Manipur, in the North East of the country.


                                                                              Sh. Sharad Pawar 
ederal agriculture minister

After having witnessed luke warm reaction to the repeated outbreaks in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and even France, the anti Bird-Flu measures taken by the Indian Central and State Governments are more than a little impressive.

Here is a report from the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India:

Over 680 health personnel, led by a Central Rapid Response Team, have conducted house-to-house active surveillance in the effected area.                                                                                                   

Out of the 45,032 houses surveyed, 935 were having backyard poultry. A total of 2,35,161 persons were covered.

163 Fever/ Acute upper respiratory Tract infection cases were found.

Four children had handled either dead or sick bird.

These cases are being monitored.

The isolation ward in J.N. Hospital, Imphal is ready to receive patients.

Two ventilators have been installed to provide critical care. This is in addition to the critical care facilities available at Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal.

Adequate supply of logistics [Tamiflu, N-95 masks and personal protective gears] have been made available to the State Government.

The situation is being closely monitored. As of now, there is no suspected human cases of Avian Influenza.

Pregnant Vietnamese Woman dies of Bird-Flu in a “Bird-Flu-Free Province”.

After repeatedly declaring many of its provinces free of Bird-flu, the Government of Vietnam has been forced to admit that H5N1 had been found in some of the Bird-Flu-free provinces.

A Country or a province in a Country is declared bird flu-free after it goes 21 consecutive days without a new case, according to the ministry.

Last week the Government of Vietnam finally informed the global community of nations, that “only three provinces are still plagued by bird flu – Dien Bien in the north, Quang Binh in the center and Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta region.”

That was of course before Bird flu has killed a Vietnamese woman who was seven months pregnant, who died in Ha Tay one of the Bird-flu-Free provinces!

She died in the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi after being admitted from a farm in the northern province of Ha Tay, the largest poultry supplier to the country’s capital.

A doctor in Ha Tay province says there are no bird flu outbreaks in the area where she lived.

Her death brings the death toll in the country to three in less than two months.

Two people — a 20-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman — died in June of avian influenza, the first fatalities announced since November 2005.

Since May, six human cases have been reported here, three of them fatal.

This entire Bird-Flu-free and not Bird-flu-free drama has been played out by the Vietnamese Government, as if it was a Monty Python sketch.

(The following may not have taken place exactly as described below,  but as Monty Python could well have plated it. The overall effect would be the same though.)

“We have got another one!” The  Big Vietnemese Government Boss would shout “From today, at 3 PM exactly, Province number 9 is Bird-Flu-Free!”

A little later, some one would hesitantly whisper “ Sir, Bird-Flu has been found again in the province number 9″

“What! Number 9 again?”  the Big Boss official would thunder, “OK then, the ### Number 9 Province is NOT Bird-Flu-Free at this time”

“Mind you, the province number 9 is free of TB, Cholera and Malaria and many other deadly deceases. It just has a little bit of Bird-flu at this time”

And so on.

It was almost funny to see a Government behave in that way.

I say funny, but you know what I mean.

As I have been saying in this blog for a while, the World Governing bodies such as WHO were apparently OK with this nutty rule of declaring a country free of Bird-Flu, if no new cases were found for a period of 21 days.

Even worse is the rule of declaring a part of a country, such as a province to be bird flu free, if there have been no new cases of the H5N1 found in that particular province.

I ask you, since there are no custom checks or travel restrictions between provinces, how can a province be guaranteed to be free of infection, if the bordering province has H5N1 in its poultry and more importantly, in its wild birds?

The WHO folks have not replied to repeated requests for an explanation for their silence/acquiescence with this less than honest practice.

I had requested a comment from what I consider to be the two top blogs in this subject area, Effect Measure and H5N1 Croftsblogs, to comment on this mad situation.

Did not get a response from Effect Mesure.

Crawford Kilian of the H5N1 did reply.

He is a kind soul and a gentle one at that.

So while he seemed to be able to see the basic problem with the 21 day rule, he did not use his understated, but universally acknowledged authority in any way, to put pressure on the related institutions to rectify or at the very least re examine the this situation.

I would like to ask WHO and all of the great and powerful people, who had such a good time at the Pandemic flu SUMMIT, to re examine the 21 day rule for a country to be declared free of Bird-flu.

More importantly the option to declare part of a country free of Bird-flu needs to be urgently revisited.

Woman selling ducklings in Hoi An market 

Deadly Bird-Flu H5N1 Strain returns to France.

On Sunday night, the dreaded Bird-Flu Virus appeared in France again.

Two swans were found dead Sunday night not far from the location where three swans were killed by the H5N1 virus earlier this month.

The swans were found in a lake at Diane Capelle, in the Moselle region, 9 kilometres from where three swans died of bird flu in early July.

Three swans were killed by the H5N1 strain in Moselle at the start of July – the first such outbreak in France in more than a year.

The French government subsequently raised its alert level to “high”, meaning that birds and poultry in mainland France have had to be locked up or protected by nets to avoid all contact with wild birds.

Moselle’s prefecture extended measures to protect domestic fowl from wild birds that had been put in place after the first case of swan deaths, the statement said.

A wild bird in eastern Germany tested positive for the disease this month. Last month, several wild birds in neighboring Bavaria and Saxony also tested positive.

The H5N1 strain has been found in poultry farms in three other EU countries this year: Hungary, Britain and the Czech Republic.

News Sources:



India Prepares for the Bird-Flu as the Lab Results are delayed.

Konsam Gopal of the State Veterinary Department in Imphal can not say as to why the expected test results for the tissue samples from the dead poultry have not arrived in Imphal.

The eagerly awaited test results of the sera samples from the dead birds, including nasal fluid and cloacal samples which were sent to a Bhopal laboratory to be tested for among other things, the H5N1 virus had been expected today.

The Government has however decided to take no chances and has started to discuss an action plan, similar to the one followed in Maharastra, during the outbreak of avian influenza there.

In an official meeting held today at State Guest House the Director of the State Veterinary Department, Th Dorendra in the chair made serious deliberations to take up necessary action plans in case the results of the laboratory test at Bhopal turn out to be positive for the H5N1 virus.