SuperStrain Blog-Source

Biological and chemical danger awaits, bioweapons and government black ops falseflag operations are an added threat to the broad spectrum of bioterrorism and biodefense. The germs are all around us, what we need is biosecurity!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Has meth been overplayed?

From the Arizona Republic:

"U.S. meth epidemic just media hype

Jun. 25, 2006 12:00 AM

Methamphetamines have become the drug of choice around the nation," reads the text of one recent newspaper story, while another proclaims, "This epidemic can only be arrested, not cured." These stories and scores more like them have created a climate in which many Americans believe that meth has become the "next big thing" in the realm of drug threats.

Make no mistake about it. Meth is a dangerous substance that, like many other drugs, has wreaked havoc in the lives of many families and communities. But although meth is a serious problem in some communities, in most parts of the country its use remains rare.

Media coverage of meth has distorted the scale of its use, hyping it as a national story while creating concern about problems in regions where none exist. This approach threatens both communities struggling with meth addiction as well as those addressing other types of substance abuse.

Despite the media's dogmatic adherence to the narrative of a national meth epidemic, an examination of key governmental indicators on drug use reveals a very different picture. Nationally, only 0.2 percent of Americans are regular users of methamphetamine. This is a rate four times less than that of cocaine use.

And just last week, two reports were released showing a decline in the number of lab seizures in 2005 and a decline in the number of workplace drug screens testing positive for meth. These figures suggest that, although meth does carry a high price tag for those who use it, the nation is making strides in addressing the addiction.

But if meth is indeed such a dangerous drug, why does it matter if the media have been misrepresenting the story? If these stories, however embellished, succeed in keeping just a small number of people from trying the drug, hasn't society benefited? The truth is that sound policy of any type is never forged from rhetoric or misinformation, and the misrepresentation of meth use has resulted in a number of worrisome consequences.

First, if history is any guide, relying upon exaggerated claims about the consequences of using certain drugs has exhibited little impact on public perceptions. In fact, studies have shown that people exposed to certain types of anti-drug advertising have actually demonstrated a "boomerang effect," in which their attitudes about the drug become less negative.

Second, the media's perpetuation of the message that methamphetamine does not respond to treatment and results in irreversible physical and mental damage is incorrect, irresponsible and dangerous. Studies in 15 states have demonstrated positive results in abstention from drug use, reduced arrests and increased employment.

At a time when many communities are struggling with the challenge of addressing substance abuse, this "nothing works" reporting fosters an environment of antipathy toward treatment.

Why would federal or state governments invest in expanding treatment options if they are constantly bombarded with the message that such an effort would merely be throwing good money after bad? Such reporting is a disservice to the individuals and communities suffering and increases the likelihood that future responses to methamphetamine will eschew prevention and treatment in favor of tougher prison terms but no sustainable reduction in substance abuse.

Finally, if the discourse on drug abuse and prevention is disproportionately dominated by meth, then communities struggling with other types of substance-abuse problems are likely to have greater difficulty obtaining necessary resources. We can see how this plays out in different communities around the country.

In San Diego and Portland, Ore., rates of methamphetamine abuse among arrestees have increased in recent years. Clearly, local officials need to be concerned about the sources of the drug, the reasons why people are using it, and the need to develop treatment programs aimed at this particular drug.

But in Philadelphia and New York, meth is barely a blip on the radar screen. Instead, those cities are grappling with the problems brought about by cocaine and heroin abuse.

If national funds and public attention are increasingly directed toward addressing meth, that leaves some cities even more vulnerable to the problems caused by these other dangerous drugs. This is the problem caused by a "one size fits all" drug strategy, one that has been shaped in large measure by sensationalist media accounts."


Interesting points, although "regular methamphetimine use" and "regular cocaine use" look very very different from eachother. We all know cokeheads and we all know methheads, and we know which ones are talkative assholes and which ones are psychotic delusional freaks. Cokeheads become famous comedians, and methheads pee their pants at the busstop, okay?!

Statistics are fun to twist, especially when we get to ignore symptoms lists!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

China had bird flu two years before it told the world

From CBC:

"(CP) - In an extraordinary turn of events, Chinese researchers have contradicted Beijing's official version of the country's H5N1 human infection timeline, revealing a Chinese man died of H5N1 avian flu fully two years before China reported its first human case to the World Health Organization in November 2005.

The eight researchers reported in a letter in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine - a letter they attempted to withdraw Wednesday - on the genetic blueprint of H5N1 virus isolated from the man, who died in November 2003.

That case predates any of the 228 confirmed cases that have been reported to WHO since the current outbreak of H5N1 virus began in late 2003. Officially, the first human cases in this outbreak occurred in Vietnam in December of 2003.

Influenza experts outside China have long believed the country has hidden or missed human cases of H5N1. To date the country has reported 19 cases to the WHO; 12 of those people have died.

"They were just so noticeable by their absence," influenza virologist Earl Brown of the University of Ottawa said of China's contention through 2004 and most of 2005 that it had found no human cases of the often fatal disease.

A spokesperson for the WHO's China office said officials will be seeking answers from the Chinese Ministry of Health about the discrepancy.

"I think it's safe to say that we will be asking for more information on this in the wake of the publication of this letter by the eight scientists," Roy Wadia said from Beijing.

"We would certainly want much more information as to exactly what happened, who this case was, what the possible source of infection was, where he was infected, the treatment - all the standard questions.

"There is information that needs to be shed on this by the Ministry of Health and we will be asking for that."

Meanwhile editors of the New England Journal, one of the most prestigious scientific publications in the world, have questions of their own. They were caught totally off guard Wednesday when they received word the authors wished to withdraw their letter. No explanation was given.

Spokesperson Karen Pedersen said the journal was trying to reach the authors to ask for their rationale and explain that the request came too late. Though the journal's official release day is Thursday, it has been in the hands of first-class subscribers for days.

"The only option for them is to retract. But they have to do that. We can't do it for them," Pedersen said.

The worrisome H5N1 virus was first isolated from a goose in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 1996 and is believed to have spread widely throughout the country's vast expanses.

When country after country in Asia reported outbreaks in domestic poultry in late 2003 and early 2004, China maintained an official silence, insisting it was free of the virus.

"I think they were probably part of it (the outbreak) and they didn't look hard or they didn't tell us when they found stuff," Brown said.

The letter is signed by Dr. Qing-Yu Zhu, Dr. E-De Qin, Dr. Wei Wang, Jun Yu, Bo-Hua Liu, Yi Hu, Jian-Fei Hu and Dr. Wu-Chun Cao. The researchers are from a variety of well known Beijing-based scientific institutions, including 309th Hospital of the People's Liberation Army and the State Key Laboratory of Pathogens and Biosecurity.

Cao, the corresponding author, did not respond to an e-mail from The Canadian Press seeking an interview or additional information.

The eight wrote of the case of a 24-year-old man, apparently from Beijing, who had pneumonia and respiratory distress in November 2003. In that period, when the entire world was anxiously waiting to see if severe acute respiratory syndrome would re-emerge with the arrival of cold and flu season, doctors thought he was suffering from SARS.

The man tested negative for the SARS coronavirus. But H5N1 was found in tissue from his lungs. The letter does not state when the testing was done or how long it has been known that the man died from H5N1.

Nor does it make any reference to the fact that this case predates by two years the official version of when H5N1 cases first started occurring in China. Instead, it describes the molecular characteristics of the virus and compares them to earlier and later viruses.

Flu watchers aren't surprised that China had cases as early as 2003. In fact, outside China it has been widely assumed, given that three people from Hong Kong became infected with the virus during a visit to Fujian province in February 2003.

But those cases - only two were confirmed as one died without being tested - were shoved off the world's radar screens within days. That's because SARS exploded in the intensive care wards of hospitals across Asia and in Toronto.

"It's clear that (H5N1) cases were occurring in China before they were reported and likely have occurred since - and were not reported," infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm said when told of the letter.

"So I think it says that the idea that we have an understanding of the true magnitude of the current ongoing endemic disease in Asia is not correct."


How would this actually effect our view of what's going on in China? If there was an H5N1 pandemic it could not be hidden, even in remote regions of rural China. SARS and H5N1 seemed to be competing in China in 2003, is that perhaps part of why SARS largely subsided quickly, competition amongst pathogens?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

H5N1 Flares up in Southern China

From Recombinomics:

"The victim was identified as a 31-year-old man surnamed Jiang, who was listed in critical condition last night.

He began complaining of fever, coughing and back pain on June 3 and was admitted to Shenzhen People's Hospital last Friday, according to authorities in the Guangdong Province city in China's south.

The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control said Jiang tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus. The Guangdong provincial health bureau then reported the case to the Ministry of Health for verification.

The patient was transferred to the city's Donghu Hospital yesterday for advanced treatment after his body temperature measured 40 degrees Celsius.

The above comments indicate an H5N1positive case has been identified in Guangdong Province. In the past several versions of H5N1 have been identified in Guangdong Province, but the human cases in China have been linked to the Fujian strain. This strain is quite widespread in China and neighboring countries. Recent H5N1 isolates from Laos and Malaysia were closely related to the Fujian strain. Presentations at last months FAO meeting on H5N1 and migratory waterfowl included a report on H5N1 in Europe. Included was a phylogenetic tree which showed that the H5N1 detect in birds quarantines in England were also closely related to duck/Fujian/1734/05 as seen in the phylogenetic tree used in the presentation,

The Fujian strain has a novel HA cleavage site, RERRRKR, so verification of the Fujian strain should be straightforward. An additional presentation on H5N1 in Qinghai Lake showed that the Qinghai strain was isolated from outbreaks to the north in Inner Mongolia and Liaoning provinces and well as recent H5N1 outbreaks in southern Qinghai province and northern Tibet. It seems likely that the recent Xinjiang outbreak is also linked to the Qinghai strain as more birds migrate to southern Russia where the Qinghai strain is widespread."


Bird flu won't stop popping up this summer... last year's off-season was very quiet. Virus is a bubblin' folks!

Monday, June 12, 2006

New developments in anti-nerve gas treatment

From PharmaLive:

"ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 12, 2006 /PRNewswire/ -- PharmAthene, Inc., a leading biodefense company focused on the development and commercialization of medical countermeasures to combat bioterrorism, presented data last week at the Bioscience Review 2006 meeting, outlining a newly-developed manufacturing process to facilitate commercial-scale production of the Company's recombinant human butyrylcholinesterase product, Protexia(R).

Protexia is being developed by PharmAthene as a pre and post-exposure therapy for military or civilian victims of a chemical nerve agent attack.

Protexia is a recombinant form of human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a naturally occurring protein found in minute quantities in blood. BChE functions as a natural bioscavenger, like a sponge, to absorb toxins such as organophosphate (OP), nerve agents (sarin, soman, tabun, VX) and certain pesticides, before they cause irreversible neurological damage.

While the utility of BChE to protect against nerve agent exposure is well documented, a major limitation in its development has been the inability to produce it in commercial volumes due to limited raw material availability (outdated blood), low levels of the enzyme in blood, and low production yields using traditional biotechnology methods.

To overcome these limitations, PharmAthene has developed a recombinant form of human BChE, (rBChE), which is produced using proprietary transgenic technology, enabling substantially larger production yields than what is currently possible using other expression systems of through purification of the native protein from human plasma. PharmAthene estimates that its transgenic technology will have the capacity to produce sufficient rBChE for both military and civilian defence. "

Saturday, June 10, 2006

H5N1 Suspected in Hungary

From TODAYonline:

"A Hungarian man displays a phial of vaccine against the bird flu virus, H5N1 in Pilisborosjeno, Hungary, March 2006. Hungarian authorities have detected a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu in a flock of domestic geese although tests are yet to show whether it is the deadly H5N1 strain.

Hungarian authorities have detected a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu in a flock of domestic geese although tests are yet to show whether it is the deadly H5N1 strain. The European Union's executive arm said Friday officials have slaughtered all 2,300 geese in the flock and are also culling poultry and ducks within a one kilometer (mile) radius of the site in Bacs-Kiskun, southern Hungary.

Samples had been sent to the European Union's reference laboratory in Weybridge, outside London, to determine whether the outbreak is the H5N1 avian influenza virus. If confirmed, it would mark the fifth outbreak of H5N1 in domestic poultry in an EU state after earlier cases in France, Sweden, Germany and Denmark. Outbreaks of H5N1 have also been detected in wild birds in thirteen EU countries.

More than 120 people have died from bird flu since late 2003, most of them in Asia, and world health officials fear that the H5N1 virus could mutate into one spread via human-to-human contact. — AFP"