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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Lion, The Geese And The Chickens

I hope 2006 will be a good year for everyone. It will certainly not be a simple one.

The Lion is whupping the Ape. The Guardian makes no bones about it:
In the US, Narnia ended the two-week reign of Peter Jackson's mighty epic at number one, selling $32.8m (£18.9m) worth of tickets, just ahead of Kong's $31.6m (£18.2m). The two features have been engaged in a tight battle for the last three weeks, but the white witch proved mightier. Narnia is also earning more overall, with total earnings of $224m (£129m), compared to the ape's $174m (£100m).
Narnia toppled King Kong at the worldwide box-office at the weekend, cashing in $41m (£23m) in 31 countries, bringing its non-US haul to $225m (£129m). The film opened in several nations, including South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand , and kept its top position in France and UK, where it has ruled at the top for four weeks in a row.
But an AP story was somewhat less clear:
"Narnia" took in an estimated $32.8 million from Friday through Monday, nudging Universal's "King Kong" out of the No. 1 spot and into second with a New Year's weekend gross of $31.6 million.
"King Kong" was No. 1 during the Christmas holiday with a four-day turnstile take of $33.3 million; "Narnia" was No. 2 with $31.7 million.

"Narnia" passed the benchmark $200 million North American box office tally on Friday and "King Kong" was expected to pass $400 million worldwide Monday.
Heh, heh. Comparing US figures for the lion to worldwide figures for the ape? Snicker. Can the US press possibly feel that it's politically incorrect to concede that the fantasy film about the lion is whipping the fantasy film about the ape?

Three Ross Goose have shown up at my place in SE GA. The first one appeared at the end of November. The second, a juvenile, appeared about two weeks later. A third mature one showed up last week. This is extremely abnormal - Ross Geese do not frequent Georgia. Because of the spread-out nature of the appearances these appearances are not due to one weather event. It is also incredibly abnormal for the juvenile to be alone, and the juvenile looks ill now. I would presume that most or all of its flock died. My guess is that some form of H5N1 did make the jump from Mongolia to Alaska and south to the Pacific region. Geese will change habitats to attempt to escape disease.

I have been stuck on trying to make a risk assessment on the bird flu issue for months now. It appeared impossible to assess risk if the clear appearance of H5N1 bird flu in Europe were not also accompanied by human disease. I had tentatively come to the conclusion that H5N1 in humans was lethal only in combination with various co-infections, and that the co-infections were also being carried by aquatic migratory birds but did not travel long distances.

But I might have been wrong. Turkey has six people hospitalized and one has now died:
A 14-year-old Turkish boy who was one of six people tested for bird flu has died and his sister was in a critical and worsening condition, doctors said.
The boy was among two brothers and two sisters between six and 15 years old who were admitted to hospital on Saturday after developing high fevers, coughing and bleeding in their throats. The children helped to raise poultry on a farm and were in close contact with sick birds. They became sick after reportedly eating one of them.

Two other patients, aged 35 and five, were sent to the same hospital on Sunday, the Anatolia news agency reported, as Turkish health and security authorities gathered to coordinate a response.
I would watch Recombinomics and the Flu Clinic on this story. Surveillance test results for H5N1 in North America were supposed to be released already, but only five percent were released in October.

Correlation does not equate to causation, but the flu season in the States seems to have begun in the Mountain (CO, UT, etc) region and perhaps the Pacific. CDC's mortality report for week 50 shows that Honolulu reported 73 deaths of which 14 were from pneumonia/influenza. That is 18.4%. There are naturally large fluctuations so this indicates nothing certain until a trend develops. You can access the interactive versions of the Mortality & Morbidity reports here. If you have kids I'd start watching these reports.

I enjoyed reading this post. It is well written. From one Georgia girl (originally) to another...way to go!
H5N1 is swelling- I suspect the Chinese are still under reporting as are others.
Sometimes I wonder how good the tests are. It seems as if most diagnoses are being made 3-4 weeks after the fact.
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