Thursday, September 28, 2006

Virus mutates easily

This is not really new information, but it is resubstantiated by this report. It is going to be a long, anxious winter.

and in case we were getting lulled

Call for more drugs

I don't like hearing of the drug resistant strains. Scary stuff.

More research into immune response as killer

One of the great ironies of this strain of flu, like its cousin in 1918 is that it is often the immune system that kills the victim. That is one of the suggested reasons why so many young people die when they get the disease. Here is some new research with mice exploring that phenomena.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Air travel and spread of flu

Not that this is new information, but it does confirm by a study what most took for granted.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Bird Flu Compared with Common Flu

A new study in Vietnam throws some detailed light on why this flu is so deadly. It also stresses early treatment with Tamiflu.


Paris - New research conducted among bird flu victims in Vietnam
shows the H5N1 virus replicates massively before unleashing a
dangerous inflammatory response by the immune system, indicating
that patients should be given antiviral drugs as soon as possible.

Published online Sunday by the journal Nature Medicine, the study
focuses on 18 Vietnamese who caught bird flu in 2004 and 2005, 13
of whom died.

Samples were taken from these patients to assess the level of H5N1
virus in the throat, and compared with other patients who had two
strains of ordinary human flu.

H5N1 patients had much higher viral loads than counterparts with
the human virus. In addition, high levels of H5N1 also triggered a
"dysregulation" of cytokines - messenger proteins in the immune
system - which in turn caused inflammation and worsened the
patient's condition.

"The focus of clinical management should be on preventing this
intense cytokine response, by early diagnosis and effective
treatment," says the paper, lead-authored by Menno de Jong of the
Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City,

The antiviral of choice in fighting H5N1 is oseltamivir, which
is made
by the Swiss group Roche and commercialised under the brand Tamiflu.

Tamiflu is not a cure for flu. It brakes replication of the virus,
easing inflammation which is the cause of most flu symptoms and
speeding the time to recovery.

Roche recommends that Tamiflu be administered within 48 hours to
treat ordinary seasonal human flu, and says work is under way to
fine tune treatment for bird flu.

Millions of doses of Tamiflu are being stockpiled by governments
and the World Health Organisation in the event of a global
flu pandemic.

Some experts warn against over-reliance on Tamiflu, fearing
that the
drug could be of limited use if the H5N1 virus, at present
from birds to humans, mutates into a form that could make it easily
contagious among humans.

In the Vietnam study, 17 of the 18 cases received Tamiflu.
The drug
appears to have had little effect, but probably because
it was
administered too late to prevent the cytokine cascade,
the paper
said. - Sapa-AFP