Friday, March 14, 2008

Pandemic Influenza Update

The good news is that Indonesia has at last agreed to submit influenza samples for testing to the World Health Organization (see previous blog posting, Feb 21, 2008)

The recent news from Hong Kong is also encouraging in their responsiveness to recent events. Hong Kong is closing its schools for two weeks due to an influenza outbreak that unfortunately took the life of one young boy. This step indicates how seriously governments and institutions are viewing the influenza threat. Hong Kong is assuring us that the infection is not due to the H5N1 virus called bird flu, but is taking precautions as though it were.

A recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States suggests we can reduce the likelihood of a pandemic influenza outbreak by quickly implementing social-distancing measures alongside antiviral treatment and preventive measures (frequent hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette, prompt and careful disposal of used tissues) until a vaccine becomes available. This is what they are doing in Hong Kong.

What follows is the most recent summary of pandemic flu matters. It indicates the 15 most populated countries and their percentage of the world's population.

A) shows the country has reported bird flu in poultry, and

B) shows the country has reported human cases of bird flu.

The summary shows that 4.3 billion people live in these 15 most populated countries, and represent roughly two-thirds of the entire world's population. The percent figure following each country's population total represents the percentage of the world's population that lives in that country.

1. China: 1.32 B. 20% of the world's population (both A and B)

2. India: 1.12 B. 17% (A only)

3. United States: 300 M. 4.6% (neither A or B)

4. Indonesia: 225 M. 3.5% (both A and B)

5. Brazil: 186 M. 2.8% (neither A or B)

6. Pakistan: 165 M. 2.5% (both A and B)

7. Bangladesh: 147 M. 2.3% (A only)

8. Russia: 143 M. 2.2% (A only)

9. Nigeria: 135 M. 2.1% (both A and B)

10. Japan: 138 M. 2.0% (A only)

11. Mexico: 108 M. 1.7% (neither A or B)

12. Vietnam: 87 M. 1.3% (both A and B)

13. Phillipines: 86 M. 1.3% (neither A or B)

14. Germany: 82 M. 1.3% (A only)

15. Egypt: 75 M. 1.2% (both A and B)

Bird flu in poultry (infestation) has been reported in eleven of these countries, and human infections have only been reported in six countries. Note that India and Bangladesh have reported and continue to report extensive and repeated poultry outbreaks, massive culling operations, but not one human infection.

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