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China fights the bird flu; Tamiflu investigated

Filed under: Opinionated on Friday, November 18, 2005

The Chinese government wants its citizens and the world to know what it’s doing to prevent the bird flu from spreading. Criticized for the lack of transparency during the SARS epidemic, this time China is publicizing its intensive anti-flu program, which will cost China the equivalent of $248 million:

  • Making government officials sign contracts “of responsibility, compulsory vaccination of poultry, and proper handling of dead poultry and poultry died of unknown reasons.” Their responsibilities also require immediate reporting of any bird deaths. (I couldn’t find any information on what consequences any failures might bring.)
  • Broadcasting mandatory public information announcements explaining how to prevent human infection, as well as requiring more frequent updates of information on any outbreaks
  • Monitoring any domestic and wild birds within a three-kilometer radius of an outbreak sites or places where infected humans may have visited
  • Requiring animal health departments to coordinate more closely with human health departments
  • Preventing people from entering and leaving “residential courtyards” without permits. (I couldn’t determine what “residential courtyards” are.)
  • Dispersing 60 million doses of poultry vaccine, 10 tons of disinfectant, 2,000 “exposure suits” and equipment in anticipation of future outbreaks
  • Establishing hotlines for hospital consultation as well as assigning certain hospitals to only deal with bird flu victims. These special hospitals can “establish special wards with 60 beds within four hours,” as well as have special teams organized “for treating human infection, disinfection, report of epidemic situation, and supply of medical materials”
  • Requiring all medical institutions to report any patients with “body temperature higher than 38 degrees Centigrade” (approximately 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) “and cough”
  • Continuing to observe bird flu survivors as well as any workers who culled infected birds
  • Requiring all schools to report student fevers
  • Boosting public morale by cutting taxes on poultry businesses, creating subsidies for vaccinating and culling poultry, as well as subsidies to build modern breeding farms “to prevent poultry from living side by side with humans”
  • Tightening inspections at entry and exit ports
  • Producing a human vaccine

China isn’t the only country pursuing a bird flu vaccine but it’s good to know they’re working on it, too, especially since the FDA is investigating Tamiflu for some nasty side effects, or adverse events, as the FDA refers to them:

In the safety review mandated by the BPCA, a number of adverse event reports were identified associated with the use of Tamiflu in children 16 years of age or younger. These adverse event reports were primarily related to unusual neurologic or psychiatric events such as delirium, hallucinations, confusion, abnormal behavior, convulsions, and encephalitis. These events were reported almost entirely in children from Japan who received Tamiflu according to Japanese treatment guidelines (very similar but not identical to U.S. treatment guidelines). The review identified a total of 12 deaths in pediatric patients since Tamiflu’s approval. All of the pediatric deaths were reported in Japanese children. In many of these cases, a relationship to Tamiflu was difficult to assess because of the use of other medications, presence of other medical conditions, and/or lack of adequate detail in the reports.

The review also identified severe skin reactions (like allergic reactions) in some pediatric patients. These events were not all reported in Japanese children and have also been reported in adults. Severe skin reactions in all age groups are currently being reviewed in more detail.

Tamiflu Pediatric Adverse Events: Questions and Answers,” FDA, downloaded Nov. 18, 2005

More information on those “adverse events” is found here:

According to the data, 12 children–all in Japan–died after taking Tamiflu.

Four of the children died hours after taking the drug, while four others died of cardiopulmonary arrest, according to the data.

The causes of death for the remaining four were a consciousness disorder, pneumonia, suffocation and cardiopulmonary arrest caused by acute pancreatitis.

[SNIP]

Earlier in the week, Chugai Pharmaceutical said it told the government that two teenage boys exhibited abnormal behavior that led to their deaths after taking Tamiflu

A 17-year-old high school student jumped in front of a truck in February last year, shortly after taking the medicine, while a junior high school student fell from the ninth floor of his apartment building in February this year.(IHT/Asahi: November 18,2005)

FDA investigating 12 deaths of Japanese children who took Tamiflu,” The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 18, 2005

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has concluded it wasn’t Tamiflu that caused the deaths, but the FDA wants to make sure.

All the more reason to remember the best ways to prevent the flu: frequent hand-washing, living a healthy lifestyle, getting plenty of rest and exercise, and avoiding people who don’t know enough to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing.

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In the name of all that is stinky…

Filed under: Opinionated on Thursday, November 3, 2005

This comment got me thinking again about the end of mandatory showers in our school districts.

I don’t know why schools no longer require mandatory showers after gym class?

[SNIP]

In my opinion it is just plain gross to go all day without a shower! I know that most of us girls would have had a fit if we weren’t allowed to take a shower after gym class! It is in the best interest of the students and teachers if students take a shower after their gym classes.

Samantha

Sing it, Samantha! Why did schools drop mandatory showers? I’ve often fantasized about zipping the people responsible for that decision into one of the overflowing gym bags owned by members of my stinky little carpool posse.

Mandatory showers after P.E. promote clean hygiene habits, as well as prevent skin infections like athelete’s foot, so why would a school district let showers go the way of school spankings?

I looked into it and learned that mandatory showers were dropped for several reasons. (Read the rest of “In the name of all that is stinky…”)

Why I never do well in political debates

Filed under: Opinionated on Sunday, October 23, 2005

Yesterday I survived one of those two-sided arguments I sometimes have with myself, the ones Hubby says I should never tell anybody about.

This time it was my Conservative side that started it. “Bush says Harriet Miers is a conservative,” she said, examining her fingernails, “and maybe they both believe it, but I ask you: what kind of conservative can possibly be in favor of affirmative action?”

Of course, my Liberal side is always willing to jump in and argue about anything my Conservative side says. “Affirmative action?” she snorted. “Affirmative smacktion! Sure, she’s okay with minorities getting good jobs, as long as they aren’t gay, or want an abortion!”

My Right side looked incredulous. “What the hell are you talking about? Don’t you find it telling that the article you cite mentions Miers’ strong feminazi supporter, Louise Raggio? Heck, ole’ Harriet even raised money to promote a lecture series that featured Gloria Steinem! Sounds like a closet feminist to me.”

“So you say!” snapped my Left side. “Planned Parenthood and Molly Ivins say Miers will ban abortion if she can, and if they say so, it must be true. What the hell kind of feminist is that?”

My Right side sniffed indignantly. “I don’t know about such extremist groups or columnists. If they’re right, how come even that lefty rag the LA Times says Harriet will be the only Supreme Court justice who ever complied with your precious Voting Rights Act, hunh?”

“Gimme a break!” taunted my Left side. “She can’t even accurately describe the Voting Rights Act, much less comply with it. And Bush says she’s qualified! Ha!”

My Right side bristled. “Don’t be dissing the President! Her credentials are outstanding, she’d be great for some high post, sure, but maybe not right for the bench, that’s all.”

“Oh, yeah, RIGHT,” snarled my Left side. “Even Rush Limbaugh thinks she’d be better off running the Federal Reserve.”

My Right side couldn’t help but snicker at that one. “Ha! She can’t even remember to pay her own lawyers association dues! She’d be good in another post, sure, but not the Federal Reserve.”

“I think you’re just blowing smoke up my dainty derriere,” said my Left side, her eyes narrowing. “You act all huffy and angry about this nomination, like she was a liberal activist judge or something. What gives?”

“Oh, you and your commie conspiracy theories!” huffed my Right side. “She IS a liberal! What, haven’t you been listening?”

Now my Left side was insulted. “She ain’t a liberal. She’s a conservative crony! That’s all!”

“Shut up! She’s a liberal! You know it, I know it, and the American people know it!”

“She’s an Evangelical Christian! ”

My Right side threw up her hands. “Religion means absolutely nothing!

“Perhaps you didn’t hear me. I said…. EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN! Say goodbye to gay rights!” my Left side shouted.

“Get off that horse already! Since when is being religious a crime?” My Right side shook her head in disbelief. “Besides, we have no guarantee her religious beliefs will guide her on the bench, despite what Dobson keeps hinting, you, you… you socialist, left wing nut job!”

“If I’m a nut job,” said my Left side, menace in every syllable, “then what do you call someone who ignores every mistake Mr. Presidential Ding-a-Ling has offered up, from non-existent WMDs to outsourcing American jobs? Hunh? The nice word would be ‘delusional,’ but I think ‘corrupt’ applies here, as it does to the entire administration!”

“Why, you….” started my Right side, clenching her fists.

“Bring it on, baby!” answered my Left, assuming a kickboxing stance she learned in one of our aerobics classes.

And that’s when both my sides got down and dirty in a brawl that had me rolling on the floor in the dust bunnies and magazine advertising inserts… until Hubby came in and told me I had too much coffee again.

So I guess I’m going to have to say I am neutral on the Miers nomination. Or I am, at least, until one of my sides lets me know who won.

Will NutriFeron save you from the bird flu?

Filed under: Opinionated on Thursday, October 20, 2005

NutriFeron

Recently I cited a report about the current shortage of antiviral drugs like Tamiflu that may help lessen the severity of the bird flu.

A Shaklee distributor made this comment to that post: (Read the rest of “Will NutriFeron save you from the bird flu?”)

California Teachers Association union dues increase and Proposition 75

Filed under: Opinionated on Tuesday, October 18, 2005

20 August 2008: Many of these links have broken since I first posted this in October 2005. I’ve updated those for which I could find new links. The original link appears under the strikeouts.

For those of you looking for more information about the California Teachers Association corrected link union dues, here are some links you might find helpful: (Read the rest of “California Teachers Association union dues increase and Proposition 75”)

It’s official: H5N1 Definitely in Romania

Filed under: Opinionated on Saturday, October 15, 2005

Tests confirm that the strain of bird flu in Romania is the H5N1 variety, the strain responsible for 60 deaths in Asia.

Officials have been waiting for the awful moment when H5N1 demonstrates an easy ability to jump from human-to-human, rather than how it jumps now, from bird-to-bird and occasionally, from dead bird-to-human. After reading this misleading headline, I thought H5N1 had made the transition but it appears to be just an irresponsibly-written headline. (Read the rest of “It’s official: H5N1 Definitely in Romania”)

Spanish Flu, Bird Flu, it’s all the same to these guys

Filed under: Opinionated on Friday, October 14, 2005

If the bird flu wasn’t bad enough, now we know for sure that the killer “Spanish Flu” was “essentially a bird virus.”

And they know this… how?

Because American scientists re-created a living copy of the 1918 Spanish flu, you know, the one that KILLED 50 MILLION PEOPLE.

Initial tests of the virus show that it is behaving like its lethal ancestor, efficiently killing mice and chicken embryos, and growing lustily in lab dishes of human lung cells. Analysis of its eight genes suggests that it was a bird flu virus that, with remarkably few genetic mutations, adapted to human beings.

Deadliest flu bug given new life in U.S. laboratory, Some applaud scientific feat; others decry move as reckless,” by Sabin Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 6, 2005

Via JunkYardBlog.

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More on the bird flu in Romania and Turkey

Filed under: Opinionated on Thursday, October 13, 2005

First the bird flu was in Romania.

Then it wasn’t in Romania, but it was in Turkey.

Then we heard it wasn’t in Turkey after all. No, wait… they were just saying there weren’t any cases of PEOPLE with bird flu in Turkey, a fact that hasn’t stopped Turks from flocking to pharmacies to buy boxes of Tamiflu. (Read the rest of “More on the bird flu in Romania and Turkey”)

California Teachers Association grabs teachers’ “muffin and latte” money to pay off campaign debt

Filed under: Opinionated on Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I was doing the carpool, switching back and forth between rants on the Randi Rhodes Show and KFI 640’s John and Ken, when John and Ken said something about the California Teachers Association that I absolutely could not believe.

(Read the rest of “California Teachers Association grabs teachers’ “muffin and latte” money to pay off campaign debt”)

Captain Tripps Sighting No. 1–UPDATED

Filed under: Opinionated on Saturday, October 8, 2005

Now that I’m paying attention, that is. And it’s not really a sighting. Just a quarantine in a small village in Romania, in case one of the 30 villagers break out with the Avian Flu. No humans are sick, but three dead ducks tested positive. (Read the rest of “Captain Tripps Sighting No. 1–UPDATED”)

 
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