Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Bird Flu in Iraq

The WHO reports that the original suspected case of avian influenza in Iraq has been confirmed, her uncle has also died of "a severe respiratory disease," and another woman from the area is also a suspected case.

An international team, including representatives of other UN agencies, is being assembled to assist the Ministry of Health in its investigation of the situation and its planning of an appropriate public health response. WHO staff within Iraq have been directly supporting the government’s operational response, which was launched shortly after the girl’s death.
Iraq is the seventh country to report human H5N1 infection in the current outbreak. The first human case occurred in Viet Nam in December 2003.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Money Trail

Via J.A.D.: MedPage Today reviews a Nature article about tracking people by their money:

The model is based on an analysis of data collected by a popular Internet game -- found on the Web site www.wheresgeorge.com -- in which participants enter the serial numbers of bills in their possession.
Over time, as different people enter the same bill, the game builds up a picture of how the money is moving, said Dirk Brockmann, Ph.D., of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization here.
But since paper money -- like viruses -- travels with people, the game also allowed the researchers to model how humans move through the world, without actually tracking them, Dr. Brockmann said

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Bird Flu Suspected in Iraq

Reuters reports on a suspected case of bird flu in Sulaimaniya, Iraq, near the Turkish border:

Tijan Abdel-Qader died on arrival at the main hospital on Tuesday after falling ill 15 days earlier in her home town of Raniya, in Kurdistan close to the Turkish and Iranian borders, Kurdish regional health minister Mohammed Khashnow said.
"The doctors in Sulaimaniya suspected this might be a case (of bird flu)," he told Reuters. "They have sent samples to Amman and we will know the results next week."
Raniya is close to Lake Dukan, which draws many migratory birds to the region and where Iraqi officials had been taking measures to try to prevent domestic fowl from being infected.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Asymptomatic Bird Flu

The New York Times reports on several Turkish children who have tested positive for H5N1 but show little or no symptoms of bird flu. The transmission route to these city dwellers is questionable at best:

On the human side, the five cases in Ankara hospitals are different from those elsewhere in Asia. Four of the five display only mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Also, although all five have had some recent contact with birds, Dr. Rodier said, they are people who live on the fringes of a major city, not farmers or people who keep birds in their backyards.
The group includes two sets of brothers: the two who show no symptoms at all, and a set from the distant suburbs who developed mild symptoms after contact with gloves that had been used to dispose of a dead duck.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Bird Flu in Ankara

ProMED-mail has been tracking the breakout of avian influenza in humans in Turkey, which has spread beyond the original three child deaths in Dogubeyazit, Van to several confirmed cases in Ankara.

Although the number of independently confirmed cases is given variously as 2 to 4, another 12 people are considered as "highly probable" and 32 others as "probable" cases of bird flu; so far, the parents of infected children have tested negative; and in the case of 2 of the Ankara patients, contact with gloves used to handle dead wild ducks are the suspected source of the virus.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Shades of 1918

Haaretz has the latest on an epidemic of pneumonia among Israeli military recruits. The Spanish Flu also began as a mysterious, deadly pneumonia at American boot camps. ProMED-mail suggests a diagnosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Of course they'd tell us if bird flu were involved...

The Allies of World War I frequently called it the "Spanish Flu". This was mainly because the pandemic received greater press attention in Spain than in the rest of the world, because Spain was not involved in the war and there was no wartime censorship. [--Wikipedia]

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Different Kind of Mad Cow

ProMED-mail reports on a different kind of mad cow disease:

The Rogers County Health Department held a special clinic Saturday [31 Dec 2005] to begin treating people identified as at risk for contracting rabies after drinking raw milk from a rabid cow.
Oklahoma State Department of Health officials announced last week that people who drank raw, un-pasteurized milk or cream sold by Swan Bros. Dairy in Claremore from 4-19 Dec 2005 may have been exposed.
So far, 45 people have begun receiving a regimen of rabies vaccinations, officials said.