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Flu Human Flu Transfers May Exceed Reports

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by E.L., Jun 3, 2006.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member



    June 4, 2006
    Human Flu Transfers May Exceed Reports
    In the wake of a cluster of avian flu cases that killed seven members of a rural Indonesian family, it appears likely that there have been many more human-to-human infections than the authorities have previously acknowledged.

    The numbers are still relatively small, and they do not mean that the virus has mutated to pass easily between people — a change that could touch off a worldwide epidemic. All the clusters of cases have been among relatives or in nurses who were in long, close contact with patients.

    But the clusters — in Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Vietnam — paint a grimmer picture of the virus's potential to pass from human to human than is normally described by public health officials, who usually say such cases are "rare."

    Until recently, World Health Organization representatives have said there were only two or three such cases. On May 24 Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, estimated that there had been "at least three." Then, last Tuesday, Maria Cheng, a W.H.O. spokeswoman, said there were "probably about half a dozen." She added, "I don't think anybody's got a solid number."

    And Dr. Angus Nicoll, chief of flu activities at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, acknowledged that "we are probably underestimating the extent of person-to-person transmission."

    The handful of cases usually cited, he said, are "just the open-and-shut ones," like the infections of nurses in the 1997 Hong Kong outbreak and of a Bangkok office worker who died in 2004 after tending her daughter who fell sick on an aunt's farm.

    Most clusters are hard to investigate, he said, because they may not even be noticed until a victim is hospitalized, and are often in remote villages where people fear talking. Also, he said, by the time doctors from Geneva arrive to take samples, local authorities "have often killed all the chickens and covered everything with lime."

    The W.H.O. is generally conservative in its announcements and, as a United Nations agency, is sometimes limited by member states in what it is permitted to say about them.

    Still, several scientists have noted that there are many clusters in which human-to-human infection may be a more logical explanation than the idea that relatives who fell sick days apart got the virus from the same dying bird.

    For example, in a letter published last November in Emerging Infectious Diseases analyzing 15 family clusters from 2003 through mid-2005 in Southeast Asia, scientists from the disease control centers, the W.H.O. and several Asian health ministries noted that four clusters had gaps of more than seven days between the time family members got sick. They questioned conventional wisdom that only one, the Bangkok office worker, was "likely" human-to-human.

    In one Vietnam cluster, not only did a young man, his teenage sister and 80-year-old grandfather test positive for A(H5N1) avian flu, but two nurses tending them developed severe pneumonia, and one tested positive.

    In another questionable case, the Vietnamese government's assertion that a man developed the flu 16 days after eating raw duck-blood pudding was publicly ridiculed by a prominent flu specialist at Hong Kong University, who said it was more likely that he got it from his sick brother.

    Dr. Henry L. Niman, a biochemist in Pittsburgh who has become a hero to many Internet flu watchers and a gadfly to public health authorities, has argued for weeks that there have been 20 to 30 human-to-human infections.

    Dr. Niman says the authors of the Emerging Infectious Diseases article were too conservative: even though the dates in it were fragmentary, it was possible to infer that in about 10 of the 15 cases, there was a gap in onset dates of at least five days, which would fit with the flu's incubation time of two to five days.

    And in a study published just last month about a village in Azerbaijan, scientists from the W.H.O. and the United States Navy said human-to-human transmission was possible. That conclusion essentially agreed with what Dr. Niman had been arguing since early March — that it was unlikely that seven infections among six relatives and a neighbor, with onset dates stretching from Feb. 15 to March 4, had all been picked up from dying wild swans that the family had plucked for feathers in a nearby swamp in early February.

    While Dr. Niman is an irritant to public health officials, his digging sometimes pushes them to change conclusions, as it did in the recent Indonesia case. The W.H.O. at first said an undercooked pig might have infected the whole family, but Dr. Niman discovered that the hostess of the barbecue was sick two days before the barbecue and the last relative was infected two weeks after it.

    His prodding, picked up by journalists, eventually led the W.H.O. to concede that no pig was to blame and that the virus probably had jumped from human to human to human.

    The health organization's periodic updates on the number of avian flu cases and the death toll concentrate on cases confirmed by laboratories. The updates use no names and are often cleared by the affected country's health minister.

    Dr. Niman, by contrast, trolls local press and radio reports and uses Google software to translate them — sometimes hilariously — looking for family names, onset dates and death dates.

    For example, a May 15 report quotes a village midwife named Spoilt describing the death of a woman in Kubu Sembilang, Indonesia and the hospitalization of one of her sons:

    "Praise br Ginting experienced was sick to last April 27 2006, with the sign of the continuous high fever to the temperature of his body reached 390 C was accompanied by coughs... Added Spoilt, second casualties Roy Karo-Karo that also the son of the uterus from Praise br. Gintin after his mother died last May 3, also fell ill, afterwards was reconciled to RSU Kabanjahe."

    Dr. Niman contends that the largest human-to-human cluster so far was not in Indonesia, but in Dogubayazit, Turkey, in January. W.H.O. updates recorded 12 infected in three clusters, and quoted the Turkish Health Ministry blaming chickens and ducks. Dr. Niman counted 30 hospitalized with symptoms and said the three clusters were all cousins with the last names of Kocyigit and Ozcan, and that most fell sick after a big family party on Dec. 24 that was attended by a teenager who fell sick on Dec. 18 and died Jan. 1.

    A patriarch, Dr. Niman said, told local papers that the two branches had had dinner together six days after the 14-year-old, Mehmet Ali Kocyigit, had shown mild symptoms. He died on Jan. 1, and several other young members of the two families died shortly after, with other relatives showing symptoms until Jan. 16. No scientific study of that outbreak has been released.

    Dr. Niman also said clusters were becoming more frequent, especially in Indonesia. Just last week two more emerged there, one including a nurse whose infection has not yet been confirmed. With 36 deaths, Indonesia is expected to eclipse Vietnam soon as the world's worst-hit country.

    Dr. David Nabarro, chief pandemic flu coordinator for the United Nations, said that even if some unexplained cases were human-to-human, it does not yet mean that the pandemic alert system, now at Level 3, "No or very limited human-human transmission," should be raised to Level 4, "Increased human-human transmission."

    Level 4 means the virus has mutated until it moves between some people who have been only in brief contact, as a cold does. Right now, Dr. Nabarro said, any human transmission is "very inefficient."

    Level 6, meaning a pandemic has begun, is defined as "efficient and sustained" human transmission.

    Ms. Cheng of the W.H.O. said that even if there were more clusters, the alert would remain at Level 3 as long as the virus dies out by itself.

    "A lot of this is subjective, a judgment on how efficiently the virus is infecting people," she said. "If it becomes more common, we'd convene a task force to raise the alert level."
  2. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Yup.... Who won't raise it the alert system past a 3..... until its a 6..... lots of concern about its effect on the world economies and markets.....

    Its all about the money and the wealthy.... remember... just like the hurricanes.... you are on your own....

  3. poacher

    poacher Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I've been thinking about this so let me pose a question to you folks.

    At what point are you going to decide to cut ties and hole up? are you planning on doing that?

    I myself have thought about this time and again and every time I come up with a different answer. Realistically if one was to decide to cut ties at the first confirmed human to human jump then you should already be cut and holed.

    Is it going to be when you start to see the progression from Asia to more western countries? If we were to use that option then you have to account for the fact that it's incubation period is anything from 2 days to 2 weeks, depending on who and what you are reading and listening to. Also if you were to use that model then you have to allow for mass transit so the progression could be a matter of hours not days.

    Is it going to be when the first case is confirmed in the U.S? If thats the case then you need to look at the time frame of the case to see what your risk is. If it's in N.Y. and you are in Tx. then you may have some time unless you are in the major city that does alot of major city to city air travel.

    So whats your thoughts on this?

    Take care Be safe Poacher.
  4. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I had a poll up on this a while back. If memory serves me correct most said they wouldn't hole up until clusters started forming in an area close by.
  5. poacher

    poacher Monkey+++ Founding Member

    thnx E.L.

    Sorry bout that I honestly didn't think to use the search button to see if this had been covered. Should have but didn't. Theres a good Country/ Western song in there somewhere.

    Take care Be safe Poacher.
  6. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    This a tough question.... as most good questions are [winkthumb]

    How will you know when clusters are taking place nearby?

    There is a lot of frustration every time something is going on with this flu about the lack of information about "efficient" human to human transmission.

    Indonesia is a good example where there seems to be a rise in cases and while there are reports daily about what is going on there, there is a pretty frustrating stop and go dialogue from what are supposed to be "trusted" sources like the World Health Organization, the directors of health organizations and the governments.

    This is like the boy who cried "Wolf".... How do you know who and when to believe?

    Get ready is coming. You're on your own. Store tuna and milk under your bed. Be prepared to home school your children. Plan on 72 hours. Plan on 2 weeks. Plan for months. Stock up on medications. Businesses need continuity plans. Hospitals will be overwhelmed. Tamiflu works. Sambucol / elderberry works. Kim Chee works. Use a N95 mask. There will be shortages in the stores. Electricity, water, garbage pick up. Markets will suffer, businesses will fold.

    No its all a conspiracy. It may never come. Its not gone Human to human. WHO is clarifying its alert levels. Its all from kicking dead chicken heads around. Its from bird droppings. Its from fertilizer. It has gone Human to Human but its not efficient. Tamiflu doesn't work. Don't rely on elderberry. Kim Chee was a joke. Use a N100 mask. There won't be shortages because of our great delivery systems. Markets won't suffer. Continuity plans will ensure utilities will go on fine. Government and Military will take care of you.... eventually. Expect quarantines. Oh wait, quarantines won't work. Oh but maybe they will.

    No Human to Human. Only Bird to Human. Oh wait, No "Efficient" Human to Human. Cats have it. Pigs have it. Its contained. Its not contained. We know its the contact with birds. All the governments of the world are cooperating on this. Oh wait, the villagers won't let us in to check on what's going on. Oh wait, we're still trying to figure out how 17 of the folks who died actually got it? We know what's going on so don't worry.... we'll keep you informed. We don't know what's going on... but we're figuring it out.... so don't worry... We'll keep you informed.

    Sheesh! I've got "Whiplash" from all this stop and go and wolf crying going on.....

    Unfortunately, I'll have to rely on what I read or hear is going on out there. Yup... first I hear of or suspect "efficient" H2H in my area... I'm keeping the family home. Quietly and hunker down. Stealth is one of the best skills to learn.

    I have this bad feeling that it will already be pretty far along by that time. If it's not already.

    No good reason for those who know to tell the general public what is actually happening in real time. Don't wanna cause a panic, cause angry, desperate folks to ask questions or turn into a mob mentality, empty the stores, crash the markets, and have everyone not show up to work or school. Really... what good would it do?

    In the 1918 pandemic, the officials who knew never really acknowledged and told the public the whole truth... some lived.... some died....

    You're on your own for this one.... Good judgement and a cool head will prevail..... I really hope we dodge this bullet.... and all the other ones out there.... but I know better....
  7. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  8. poacher

    poacher Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Bear I do believe you have just hit then perverbial nail on the head. We truly will be on our own with this go around, in more ways than one. During the time that alot of people thought Y2K was going to be a catastrophic event communing or grouping seemed to be the key word.

    Everyone talked with those in their group to see what this person could bring or that persons talants were. This time around unless everyone in your group is removed from contact with other people once the first case is confirmed here or you run the risk of one infecting all. So now you are going to have your immediate family and thats about it.

    I realize that theres soooo many more facets I could go into on this but to be honest I'm just not hitting on all cyclinders tonight and rather than sit here for a hour staring at the screen I'll just call it good for now.

    Take care Be safe Poacher.
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