Feet First

“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2005
    Not Good

    China Confirms First Human Bird-Flu Cases

    Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

    The Chinese government announced plans Tuesday to vaccinate all the country's 14 billion domestic fowl.

    Good luck with that.

    Such vaccination programs are "the right thing to do," said David Nabarro, the U.N. coordinator for bird and human flu. The virus is so entrenched in China's birds that simply slaughtering them will not work, he said. The best plan is to vaccinate and then slaughter when there are outbreaks, he said at a conference on bird flu in New York.

    China's prompt response to bird flu and the scale of its anti-disease effort have been in striking contrast to its handling of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, when it was criticized for its secrecy and failure to respond to foreign pleas for information and cooperation.

    Nobody wants to be blamed for triggering a pandemic. I find this report reassuring, actually. We know the disease exists, we know how to track it and the host country has had experience in how NOT to deal with outbreaks of respiratory disease. Now we have to see what happens next. If transmission is bird-to-human only there will be more sporadic outbreaks; if human-to-human transmission is possible the number of cases will increase very quickly.

    State television showed workers at industrial-scale poultry farms jabbing chickens with injector guns.

    I hate public television...



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