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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Turkey Bird Flu News Makes It To English

This is the first English-language report I have found (thanks to CurEvents.com) that depicts the scope of what the local press has been reporting for the last few days:
THE number of Turkish people thought to be infected with avian flu rose to more than 50 this weekend, prompting concern that the disease may be about to spread into Europe.
Yesterday six more children who have tested positive for avian flu remained in a critical condition in the Turkish city of Van, near Dogubayazit. Another 24 suspected cases are being treated in a special ward in the university hospital.

A further 18 patients with symptoms of the disease, most of them children, are being treated in hospitals in the eastern cities of Yozgat, Erzurum and Diyarbakir. Other cases are being investigated.
It's not good. The cases are being reported over a broad area, with reports of birds dying right across the country. Furthermore I want to stress again that the first human deaths were confirmed before any case of H5N1 was confirmed in any bird in the area. Agri is far away and is reporting many, many birds dead. People with symptoms are being loaded into ambulances which are taking them to hospitals - in some cases hospitals quite far away. In the meantime, reporting in Turkish seems to be focusing on the idea that people in those hospitals originated from outside the local area.

If even 15 cases are confirmed, it will be by far the largest such incident. I think we are seeing the impact of the Qinghai virus on a population with no prior exposure to H5. These reports are staggeringly similar to the original reports from Boxun at Qinghai in May of 2005.

The Chinese reports (from several areas, all of which were wild-bird havens) were that the initial wave of deaths came from people eating sick wild birds. You should no longer prepare raw poultry for eating with your bare hands. Use gloves. Wash eggs before using them and hard boil them. Do not fry them. Cook all poultry and meat to death.

There are Turkish language reports of dying dogs in these areas. The virus can spread to cows, goats and other animals. The US is starting a program in which most poultry producers will spot test a sample of poultry sent for processing, but I cannot find out how many and I doubt the poultry will be held while the tests are done. This means that there is a very high risk of cross-contamination in processing facilities.

These outbreaks cannot be controlled because they are in the wild bird population. It's time to start killing starlings and pigeons in the cities in Europe and the Americas. We are running an experiment and I would take no chance of being included in the test sample. I intend to be in the control group!

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