Avian and Swine Flu News StoriesExcerpts of Key Avian and Swine Flu News Stories in Major Media
Note: This comprehensive list of avian and swine flu news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
In a development health experts are calling alarming, two bird flu patients in Vietnam died after developing resistance to Tamiflu, the key drug that governments are stockpiling in case of a large-scale outbreak. The experts said the deaths were disturbing because the two girls had received early and aggressive treatment with Tamiflu and had gotten the recommended doses. Since 2003, avian flu has killed about 70 people, mostly in Vietnam and Thailand, and nearly all involved close contact with infected birds. Health experts fear the virus could morph into a form that spreads easily between people. The new report involved eight Vietnamese bird flu patients given Tamiflu upon being hospitalized in 2004 or 2005. Half of the patients died. Lab tests showed two of those who died...had developed resistance.
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A Vietnamese doctor who has treated dozens of victims of avian flu claims the drug being stockpiled around the world to combat a pandemic is 'useless' against the virus. Dr Nguyen Tuong Van runs the intensive care unit at the Centre for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi and has treated 41 victims of H5N1. Van followed World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and gave her patients Tamiflu, but concluded it had no effect. 'We place no importance on using this drug on our patients,' she said. 'Tamiflu is really only meant for treating ordinary type A flu. It was not designed to combat H5N1 . . . (Tamiflu) is useless.' Roche, the company that makes Tamiflu, has sold stockpiles of the drug to 40 countries and insists there is clear evidence it will protect against a future flu virus. However, it stresses the drug must be given within 48 hours to be effective. The WHO admitted Tamiflu had not been widely successful in humans. 'However, we believe in many Asian countries it hasn't been used until late in the illness,' a spokesman said.
Note: Yet hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to stockpile this drug. It's quite interesting that the former chairman of the board of directors of the company that made Tamiflu is current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld has had over $5 million in stock gains from the sales of this drug. To read about this and lots more: http://www.WantToKnow.info/avianflu
Researchers...scratch their heads over the weird genetic sequence of the 1918 flu virus. Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger, a molecular pathologist at the Armed Forces Institute of Technology [said that] the 1918 virus appears to be a bird flu virus. But if it is from a bird, it is not a bird anyone has studied before. It is not like the A(H5N1) strain of bird flus in Asia, which has sickened at least 116 people, and killed 60. It is not like the influenza viruses that infect fowl in North America. Yet many researchers believe that the 1918 virus, which caused the worst infectious disease epidemic in human history, is a bird flu virus. And if so, it is the only one that has ever been known to cause a human pandemic. That, Dr. Taubenberger said, gives rise to a question. Are scientists looking for the next pandemic flu virus in all the wrong places? Birds, Dr. Slemons said, do not have much of an immune response to influenza, and so there is no particular pressure for the virus to mutate. He said birds are chronically infected with lots of flu viruses at once, and all the viruses coexist peacefully. Some experts like Dr. Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York say the A(H5N1) flu viruses are a false alarm. He notes that studies of serum collected in 1992 from people in rural China indicated that millions of people there had antibodies to the A(H5N1) strain. That means they had been infected with an H5N1 bird virus and recovered. Despite that, and the fact that those viruses have been circulating in China more than a dozen years, almost no human-to-human spread has occurred. "The virus has been around for more than a dozen years, but it hasn't jumped into the human population," Dr. Palese said. "I don't think it has the capability of doing it."
Just as President George W. Bush is launching an ambitious plan to guard against an avian flu pandemic, an administration program to prepare for a potential anthrax attack is running into new and unexpected hurdles. VaxGen Inc., a California biotech firm that last year was awarded an $877.5 million contract to supply a newly invented, and so far unlicensed, anthrax vaccine, acknowledged this week that it won't begin to start deliveries to the federal government until the latter part of next year -- six months later than it originally intended. For months, investigators on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that the administration may have invested too big a chunk of the nation's biodefenses in one obscure and relatively untested company. Last year's decision by HHS to award the contract to the little-known VaxGen is being scrutinized by at least two congressional committees. The company's product will have to pass more large-scale tests proving its safety and effectiveness on people before it is fully licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for use on humans, and company officials say they do not expect it to be fully licensed at least until 2007. A New York Times report last December noted that...the company had faced lawsuits filed by investors who claimed VaxGen misinformed them about an AIDS vaccine that the company had heavily promoted but which later failed to work.
Note: For more on how greed and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry affects your health and wallet, see our Health Information Center.
[Gary] Butcher has been an extension veterinarian at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine since 1988. He was trained as a veterinarian specializing in avian diseases, and has a Ph.D. in poultry virology. Butcher begins his presentation with a slide that shows a "news flash" from the British press agency Reuters reporting that avian flu "poses the single biggest threat to the world right now." So far, however...no one has yet been proven to have given avian influenza to someone else. "The emphasis of all my work has changed to dealing with this madness," Butcher said Friday. "Realistically, avian influenza is not a threat to people, but everywhere you go, it has turned into a circus." Millions of chickens and waterfowl have been slaughtered in Asia...but Butcher said that of the billions of people who have probably been exposed, only about 120 have been reported to have fallen ill with avian flu. They were people who worked closely with chickens and came into contact with the birds' blood and feces. Not all health officials are sounding a warning about avian influenza, either. Dr. Marc Siegel, a practicing internist and associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine...isn't buying into the scare scenario. "If anything is contagious right now, it's judgment clouded by fear," Siegel said. [Butcher] said that although there is a potential that the virus could mutate, as it exists, it could not become an important disease in humans. "For it to become dangerous to humans, it has to go through a pretty significant genetic change. If you put this in perspective, it's not going to happen.
Note: When major corruption threatens to be exposed, those threatened know that by creating massive fear (such as a global pandemic), they can divert attention and keep money flowing into corrupt coffers. For more on this, click here and here.
The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu. Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million. In the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer. Rumsfeld isn't the only political heavyweight benefiting from demand for Tamiflu. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005.
A second manufacturer is beginning mass production of a vaccine to protect against bird flu, and the Senate moved Thursday to invest far more -- $8 billion -- on preparations in case the influenza strain ever sparks a worldwide epidemic. Before the Senate acted, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt awarded a $62.5 million contract to Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron Corp. to manufacture bird flu vaccine. Sanofi-Aventis of Paris began manufacturing $100 million worth of a similar vaccine last month. The Bush administration is putting the final touches on its plan for how to fight the next super-flu...amid growing concern that the H5N1 influenza strain spreading among birds from Asia to Europe could trigger a pandemic if it mutates into a form easily spread from person to person. The massive out-of-budget expenditure...would increase stockpiles of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza, thought to be effective against current strains of bird flu. "The money that we spend now will not be wasted even if this particular strain of the virus, H5N1, ends up not becoming a pandemic flu," said Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. "We know that over the next two, three decades there will be a pandemic flu. That's almost certain."
Note: If the above link fails, click here. Isn't is interesting that over $60 million dollars (potentially $8 billion!) has been "awarded" for a vaccine against a bird flu that hasn't even mutated yet? How are these people so certain that it will mutate and kill millions of people? How do we know these vaccines will work when it hasn't even mutated? Note also that the pharmaceutical industry, which manufactures vaccines, has the largest lobby in all Washington and is raking in huge profits. For lots more on this, don't miss the vital information in our Health Information Center.
If the nightmare of an avian flu pandemic emerges from the dark chapters of doomsday scenarios, it will fall to the Department of the Homeland Security, not the medical establishment, to manage the crisis, according to federal documents and interviews with government officials. Under the National Response Plan, which also plans for actions in case of pandemics, DHS assumes top authority when an “incident of national significance” is declared. The first such “incident of national significance” was declared in August after Hurricane Katrina hit; however, federal coordination among agencies and state and local governments broke down on so many levels that even President Bush was forced to acknowledge that the plan was flawed. Federal officials have been role playing different flu outbreak scenarios for the past several months. Last year’s plan called for closing of schools, restricting travel and...lock-down quarantine measures. Those extreme measures jumped into the spotlight...when President Bush suggested that federal military troops -- not just the National Guard -- may have to be called in to enforce a quarantine.
Note: Isn't it interesting how the government seems to be predicting that the avian flu, which has killed less than 100 people worldwide, is going to mutate and cause massive deaths? How do they know this? Could this be another way of pushing us into fear and giving up our civil liberties?
President Bush said yesterday that he would consider using the military to "effect a quarantine" in the event of an outbreak of pandemic influenza in the United States. Bush also suggested that putting National Guard troops under federal, rather than state, control might be one part of a response to the "catastrophe" of an avian influenza outbreak. The president raised the same idea after Hurricane Katrina, suggesting that he is considering a greater role for the military in natural disasters. Most public health experts believe it is impossible to entirely isolate neighborhoods, towns, cities or regions during an outbreak of disease. Instead, quarantines today generally refer to a variety of strategies for identifying and limiting the movement of people who are infected with a contagious pathogen or are at high risk. That might include screening travelers for fever and flu symptoms; prohibiting large gatherings of people, including at some workplaces; and requiring that people exposed to infected individuals stay at home until the incubation period for the illness has passed. China took these measures during the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003.
President George W. Bush asked Congress on Tuesday to consider giving him powers to use the military to enforce quarantines in case of an avian influenza epidemic. "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?" Bush asked at a news conference. The active duty military is currently forbidden from undertaking law enforcement duties by the federal Posse Comitatus Act.
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Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.