Hard Rain Journal 8-21-06: Bird Flu Update – Denial is More Dangerous than H5N1 Virus Itself
By Richard Power
As of today, 95 people have died from bird flu in 2006, that's as many people as died in all of 2005.
There is concern about a possible second cluster of human infection in Indonesia. According to some reports at least 12 people in Cikelet, a village 150 km southeast of Jakarta, have fallen ill. Two people, a mother and daughter, have died. Such clusters could indicate human to human transmission, although Indonesian authorities are downplaying the likelihood.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, "new strains" of the H5N1 virus, which spread from southern China, are responsible for fresh outbreaks among poultry in Thailand and Laos, although China denies it.
As with numerous other risks and threats, the denial of those responsible for public health, safety, and security is more dangerous than the virus itself.
Bird flu is not only a threat, it is an opportunity for your organization -- both to empower your people by heightening their awareness and to upgrade your preparedness (not only for pandemics but for other disastrous eventualities). Do not forgo it.
Here are excerpts from news stories on recent developments in the bird flu story:
In Indonesia there are more fears about a new bird flu outbreak after it was confirmed that Eius Lina, a 35 year-old woman who died last Thursday at Dr Slamet Hospital, had the bird flu. She is among at least 12 suspected cases of the disease in the West Javan village of Cikelet, 150 km southeast of Jakarta. Her nine-year-old daughter died two weeks ago, but she was buried before any tissue samples were taken for testing. “We did not take her [daughter's] specimens, so we don't know whether she is positive or negative,” I Nyoman Kandun, Indonesia's director general of communicable disease control, said. “It seems she had the same symptoms - pneumonia, breathlessness. If the daughter was also positive we can say this is a cluster family.”
Indonesia probes possible cluster after 45th bird flu death, Asia News/Italy, 8-21-06
New strains of the H5N1 virus caused some of the fresh outbreaks of bird flu in Thailand and Laos and they appear to have spread from southern China, the Food and Agriculture Organisation said....Vigorous control measures must be implemented to prevent further spread of the disease in birds and poultry, the U.N. agency said in a statement. Recent outbreaks of avian flu in northeastern Thailand and neighbouring Laos were caused by a H5N1 virus strain previously not detected in the region, but similar to a strain found in southern China, it said. "Poultry trade across borders is continuing in Southeast and East Asia despite well-known risks," the FAO said. New bird flu strains blamed for S.E. Asia outbreaks, Reuters, 8-17-06
Lack of cooperation between health and farm officials in developing countries is hampering the fight against bird flu, the World Health Organisation said....WHO officials say one major problem lay in the differing focus of health and farm or animal husbandry departments. "Basically, the target populations of the different departments have been different: one focusing on poultry and the other people," said Subhash Salunke, WHO's regional advisor for communicable disease surveillance and response....A prime example of such a lack of coordination was Indonesia, one of the delegates said. The fight against bird flu in Indonesia was largely led by the health ministry whose officials had little idea about animal health, said the delegate, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Indonesia, along with China, is among the worst-affected countries. India and Thailand were cited as countries where there was good coordination between health and agricultural departments. "In the countries where these two sectors have collaborated well, the outbreaks in animals and in humans have been contained," Samlee Plianbangchang, WHO regional director for Southeast Asia, told delegates. Lack of coordination hitting bird flu fight - WHO, Reuters, 7-28-06
China admits its first human death from bird flu actually occurred in late 2003 – several months earlier than the previously reported first death from the current outbreak. The Chinese health ministry confirmed its first human case through laboratory tests that were carried out with the World Health Organization (WHO) and researchers from the Chinese Academy of Military Medicine, the ministry said on its website. It identified the victim as a 24-year-old private in the People's Liberation Army, surnamed Shi. China had previously said its first human bird flu case was in November 2005. Officials admitted their mistake after eight Chinese scientists published a letter in the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2006, claiming Shi became ill from bird flu on 25 November 2003 and later died. The journal even received a bogus email claiming to come from an author of the letter and asking for its withdrawal...Prior to China's announcement, the first human death from bird flu in recent years was believed to have been in Vietnam in January 2004. Since then, over 220 people have caught the virus, resulting in about 130 fatalities....China was widely criticised for initially covering up the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in late 2002, enabling the virus to spread more easily and kill hundreds globally. New Scientist, 8-9-06
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Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Bird Flu, H5N1, Avian Flu, Pandemic, Health Emergency, United Nations, Indonesia, India, SARS, Crisis Management, Business Continuity, Indonesia, China, Laos, Thailand