Saturday, October 15, 2005


I haven't really blogged a whole bunch on the bird flu. I vacillate between a respectful fear, and wondering if the whole thing isn't getting, like most made-for-cable-news stories, overdone.

But here's some more information to tuck away and hopefully never have to remember, from HealthCentral:

FRIDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Many public health experts have pinned their hopes on the antiviral drug Tamiflu to help stem a potential pandemic caused by avian flu, but a new report reveals the virus can become resistant to Tamiflu in some patients.

According to the article, which appears in the Oct. 14 online issue of Nature, a strain of the H5N1 flu virus that infected a Vietnamese girl in February is resistant to Tamiflu (oseltamivir).

Although the girl recovered, the finding raises concerns that Tamiflu may not be enough to fight a potential H5N1 pandemic. The girl could have been infected by her brother rather than by birds, according to study author Yoshihiro Kawaoka, from the University of Wisconsin. However, this needs further investigation before it can be verified, the authors noted.

While the strain of the virus was resistant to Tamiflu, when the research team tested the virus in ferrets they found that it was still sensitive to another antiviral drug -- Relenza (zanamivir).

Given that, "it could be useful to stockpile zanamivir, as well as oseltamivir, in the event of an H5N1 influenza pandemic," the authors concluded.

One expert said this mutation of the virus was not unexpected, and warned against the overuse of Tamiflu.

"This isn't terribly surprising," said Dr. Arnold S. Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. "We know that you can get a mutation in a small number of people who are treated."
Despite what the 20% majority of the country think, virus's do evolve and mutate...quickly.

I tend to think that any bird flu pandemic would be much much less severe than any past pandemics simply because of improvements in medical care. On the other hand, I sure wouldn't want to get it.


At 3:22 PM, Blogger Jage said...

And I don't mean to be of any further disrespect to the science of real viruses and diseases, but the more I flip around between the cable news hells, the more I'm convinced there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for this to be on the radar of concern for citizens of a majority of the world. 60 dead people in Asia out of 6 billion people in the world is so medically insignificant that only the news media could create such a 'looming death' out of it. Too bad they don't start running similarly packaged and pitched fear stories with awesome graphics and experts on how many people die in automobile accidents each day - YOUR CAR IS WAITING TO KILL YOU! Hell, maybe that'd effect the sheep-minded of the nation enough to cut back on gas consumption, as nothing else has done the trick yet. As Wolf Blitzer said in an un-related interview with Bill Clinton the other day, "That's my job. I'm a newsman. That's what I try to do, is make news." And there it is...the sad truth governing modern newsrooms...


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