Looks like I scooped Medical News Today, their report on Fujian-type H5N1 was posted today:
"It emerged in China and is spreading in southeast Asia - a new H5N1 bird flu strain which is highly resistant to current vaccines. The way this virus is evolving means our current measures are probably ineffective, according to Dr. Yi Guan, Director, State Key Laboratory of Emerging Diseases, Hong Kong, in a new report.
Dr. Guan, and team, say the new strain is gradually becoming the dominant one in south east Asia. They believe the new strain has started a third H5N1 infection wave in southern China, as well as making headway into Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand. The new strain is taking hold because current vaccines used to protect poultry from H5 infection are much less effective against it.
Several humans have been infected with this new strain, says the report. At the moment it is spreading from rural into urban areas, where efforts to stem its spread will be much more challenging."
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This strain could be the one that sets it off. It apparently will lead to more poultry deaths, at least. Reuters, as always, is on top of it:
"HONG KONG (Reuters) - Scientists in Hong Kong and the United States have detected a new strain of H5N1 bird flu virus in China and warned it might have started another wave of outbreaks in poultry in Southeast Asia and move deeper into Eurasia.
The strain, called the "Fujian-like virus" because it was first isolated in China's southern Fujian province in March 2005, has increasingly been detected since October 2005 in poultry in six provinces in China, displacing other H5N1 strains.
The strain might also have become resistant to vaccines, which China began using on a large scale from September 2005 to protect poultry from H5N1, said the scientists.
The researchers are from the University of Hong Kong, including virologists Guan Yi and Malik Peiris, and Rob Webster of St Jude Children's Research Hospital in the United States."
We throw vaccines and anti-virals at it and it keeps mutating around them. I can hardly wait for the next round of mass cullings. Sacks of dead birds on fire makes for good photo-journalism.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/31/2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Grass roots city council action! Shouting and microphones and lines being drawn! Charts! Counties and their issues! Here's KCBS with the report:
"Salinas, CA (KCBS) -- On Friday more than 70 lawmakers, health officials and members of the Agriculture community met in Salinas to discuss ways to avoid future E-coli outbreaks.
The summit was organized by Rep. Sam Farr, (D) of Carmel, and held at the Monterey County Agriculture Office who urged the audience to keep making improvements in food safety regardless of the recent spinach E. coli setback.
After months of investigations, the tainted spinach that killed three people, and sickened more than 200 has been pinpointed to wild pigs that entered a local spinach farm after trampling a surrounding fence.
Now that the outbreak has a culprit, Farr believes the next step in the process is to get federal money for more research into E. coli and other health issues. The research is projected to take somewhere between four to five years, and will offer important insight into better farming practices.
"E-coli is very hard to detect in the Salinas Valley region and so we decided there needed to be some solid separation between the animals and fields. We do a pretty good job of it now but we’re got to do a better," Farr told KCBS’s Melissa Culross."
Just more proof of my assumption that nothing ever gets done until local government gets involved. Federal policy has teeth like a newborn.
This brings the total H5N1 death count in Egypt up to 7. I bet they're glad they can still count the number of deaths on two hands... Here's more from Reuters:
"CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian woman died of bird flu on Monday, bringing the total number of human deaths in Egypt to seven, the state news agency MENA said.
The victim was a woman from the Nile Delta town of Samanoud who had slaughtered and handled domestic poultry, it said. It was the first human death in Egypt from the virus since May. The agency had earlier identified the woman as 39-year-old Hanan Aboul Magd, who was admitted to hospital with a high temperature and respiratory trouble on October 4.
She moved to a specialist hospital in Cairo on October 12 and was receiving Tamiflu, the standard treatment for the deadly virus, MENA said. It said people with whom she was in contact have tested negative for the H5N1 virus, which first appeared in Egypt in February and caused great damage to the poultry industry.
With 15 infections, Egypt has had the largest cluster of human bird flu cases outside Asia, and the latest case came a month after authorities found a cluster of new cases in birds following a two-month lull in detected poultry cases."
Looks like the Tamiflu's not working in Egypt, and they have a 15/7 ratio of infections to deaths. Just barely beating a 50% mortality rate. I reported on this case earlier, when it first surfaced. They had her on Tamiflu for almost a month, and she still died.
SpiritIndia has the scoop:
"Brent geese are returning to estuaries and harbours along the East and South coasts. They have flown here from Siberia, so they are under suspicion of carrying bird flu, but there is no serious evidence that they might bring it with them.
These Siberian birds are of the dark-bellied race of brent geese. There is also a pale-bellied race that migrates from Canada and Greenland, and spends the winter in Ireland."
I imagine by "race" they mean either species or sub-species. What matters is, if these birds are carrying H5N1 they are going to be landing in all sorts of places that are not very well prepared to handle it, and biologically they are very similar to Canadian brent geese.
Honestly, I have no idea what Canada is doing to prepare for the possible pandemic. Anyone? I assume they are doing it better than the US, but somehow manage to incorporate lumber processing into the system.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
"Defence scientists secretly tested E.coli bacteria as a possible biological weapon in and around two British towns, documents revealed today.
Between winter 1965 and November 1967 a series of Government trials involving the release of "microthreads" covered in the bacteria were carried out near Swindon and Southampton.
The experiments are detailed in the 1966 Ministry of Defence report on the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton Down, Wilts.
It is being released for public viewing for the first time today at the National Archives in Kew, south west London.
The paper discusses the "production of micro-organisms for weapons systems", suggesting that the "excellent quality and reproducibility" of E.coli indicated "highly satisfactory results" could be achieved.
Preliminary experiments were conducted in winter 1965 in and around Southampton, with follow-up tests the next summer.
In September, similar experiments were performed in Swindon "which was selected because it is a reasonably large inland industrial city in the midst of a large rural area".
The tests were designed to establish how well the bacteria would survive in different climate and atmosphere conditions."----------------------------------------
But... but... I thought democratic high-minded western nations didn't engage in bioweapons research, let alone on their own civilians!
Ok, so I'm not shocked. I'm am actually really surprised they released this information for public consumption, however. I guess the UK is different then the US - at least they let you know when they're committing war crimes on their general public... 40 years after the fact, that is.
Makes me wonder what they're testing out on the village folk these days.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/28/2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
From CBS Fort Worth:
"Forth Worth business executive, David Corbin, ate a bowl full of spinach contaminated with E.coli bacteria to demonstrate faith in his company’s irradiation treatment process.
Corbin emerged healthy from a meal that he said could have killed someone if not treated with Sadex Corporation’s e-beam technology.
The company recently ran bags of recalled spinach tainted with E.coli through electronic pasteurization at its Sioux City, Iowa, plant where it usually bombards raw hamburger meat with electron beams that kill food borne pathogens.
Corbin said irradiation could have prevented the deadly outbreak of E.coli infections if the FDA bureaucracy had approved petitions to use irradiation for leafy greens and other ready-to-eat foods."
What's holding up the FDA from approving irradiation of such oh-so-wholesome items as organic cow-shit covered spinach?? Its because the crowd that buys that stuff is the same crowd that is terrified of atoms, and the FDA is nothing if not a coward in the face of politics.
ATOMS!! They're shooting particles at my food?!? OMG I will get cancer from these mysterious things that I'm already constantly exposed to!!!
The world would be so much better if it ran on nuclear power and we irradiated anything we consume that was at one time considered living.
Imagine a world where smog didn't exist, global warming was slowing to a standstill, cars ran off of hydrogen and it was safe to eat a hamburger rare.
Give into the dark side, give into nuclear technology! Mwaahaahahahaaaa....
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/26/2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
"Oct 25, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Researchers from the University of Georgia report that wood ducks and laughing gulls are highly susceptible to H5N1 avian influenza, which suggests those two species could be sensitive indicators of the virus's presence in wild birds.
In a lab, the researchers exposed six species of wild birds—five duck species and laughing gulls—to the lethal Asian H5N1 virus. All the birds became infected, but only the wood ducks and laughing gulls became ill or died, according to their report in the November issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The findings come amid this year's greatly expanded federal and state program to look for H5N1 avian flu in wild birds in the United States. The deadly Asian strain of H5N1 has not yet been found in North America, but a mild "North American" strain of H5N1 has been found in wild birds in several states.
"If you're looking for highly pathogenic H5N1 in wild birds, it would really pay to investigate any wood duck deaths because they seem to be highly susceptible," David Stallknecht, a study coauthor, commented in a University of Georgia news release.
Besides wood ducks, the ducks used in the study were mallards, Northern pintails, blue-winged teal, and redheads. Those species are the most likely to bring H5N1 to North America, given their behavior and habitat use, lead author Dr. Justin Brown commented in the news release.
The researchers found that the birds studied had more virus in their mouth and throat secretions than in feces. In contrast, said Stallknecht, birds infected with low-pathogenic avian flu viruses shed more virus in their feces, according to the news release."
So when the highly-pathogenic H5N1 finally floats its way on over to the US, try not to get bitten by any ducks.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/25/2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
From the Chicago Tribune:
"CHICAGO -- Asked to tell which of five likely bioterror weapons would cause specific symptoms, Chicago emergency room doctors did poorly.
The 36 physicians and 37 doctors in training missed more than two-thirds of the questions about chemical weapons and more than half of those about biological agents, according to a report presented Sunday at the convention of the American College of Emergency Medicine in New Orleans.
"It was meant to be hard," said Dr. S.B. Chan of Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago, where the study was done.
The study is disturbing but too small to make any conclusions about emergency room doctors in general, said Dr. Peter DeBlieux, director of emergency medicine services at LSU Health Care Systems Division."
While ER docs usually aren't confronted with infections caused by a bioweapon agent, I think this is a great indication that they need to be given specific education on what to look for in case of biological attack.
Here's a mini-primer just for you, my lovely and dedicated readers:
Tularemia - pneumonia, joint stiffness, muscle pain
Anthrax - bloody lymph, flu-like symptoms followed by toxic shock
Smallpox - raised pink rash, high fever, low platelet count
Botulism - abdominal pain, double vision, labored heavy breathing
There's four. I couldn't think of a fifth... but hey, I'm not even a med student let alone a seasoned ER doc, so I think I deserve a break.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/23/2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
"A child is among the two latest E-coli cases in Illinois. State health leaders say two new cases are connected to the contaminated spinach. The child became sick after eating spinach in Northeast Illinois. She is now recovering.
And a woman from downstate also ate some of the tainted spinach. The bacteria was tracked down to a farm in California's Salinas Valley. Four Illinois residents have been sickened by the spinach."-----------------------------------
That's what you get for listening to the FDA...
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/20/2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials refused to tell Minnesota authorities which of two beef plants were linked to a fatal E. coli outbreak last summer, according to a state report. One woman died and at least 17 people were sickened from the E. coli outbreak in the Longville area, after eating ground beef. According to the Minnesota Department of Health report, state officials narrowed the source of the E. coli to two processing plants -- which they identified only as "Plant A" and "Plant B." The report said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had reported that beef trimmings from a processing plant yielded the same genetic material as that in the E. coli outbreak. But the USDA wouldn't identify that plant, saying it wasn't public information. That made it impossible for state authorities to specify the source of the outbreak. "We had all this correlation, we wanted to find out which plant it came from," said Kevin Elfering, director of the dairy and food division of the Minnesota Agriculture Department, in a telephone interview this week. "At that point, they were not able to give us that information, because they had some concerns on their data practices." Elfering said that his department had three or four conference calls with USDA officials seeking the information, but to no avail. Officials there argued the information was not public."
More news of government cover-ups on E. Coli, from AgriNews:
We can only hope California officials will be more open when investigations are complete...
"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials refused to tell Minnesota authorities which of two beef plants were linked to a fatal E. coli outbreak last summer, according to a state report.
One woman died and at least 17 people were sickened from the E. coli outbreak in the Longville area, after eating ground beef.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health report, state officials narrowed the source of the E. coli to two processing plants -- which they identified only as "Plant A" and "Plant B."
The report said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had reported that beef trimmings from a processing plant yielded the same genetic material as that in the E. coli outbreak. But the USDA wouldn't identify that plant, saying it wasn't public information. That made it impossible for state authorities to specify the source of the outbreak.
"We had all this correlation, we wanted to find out which plant it came from," said Kevin Elfering, director of the dairy and food division of the Minnesota Agriculture Department, in a telephone interview this week. "At that point, they were not able to give us that information, because they had some concerns on their data practices."
Elfering said that his department had three or four conference calls with USDA officials seeking the information, but to no avail. Officials there argued the information was not public."---------------------------------
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/18/2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
I missed posting on the 53rd Indonesian bird flu death, but I only had to wait a couple days for number 54. This one raises some troubling questions. Here's what the CBC says:
"JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - A 67-year-old woman died overnight of bird flu, the second death in as many days, taking Indonesia's human toll from the disease to 54, Health Ministry and hospital officials said Monday.
The woman, who was also diagnosed with encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, was hospitalized with bird flu symptoms on Oct. 10 after coming into contact with fowl in West Java province, said Runizar Roesin of the National Bird Flu Information Center.
She died late Sunday, he said, a day after an 11-year-old boy succumbed to the disease in a Jakarta hospital.
Health officials were trying determine whether there was any link between bird flu and the woman's brain inflammation, said Hadi Yusuf, her chief doctor at the Hasan Sadikin hospital in Bandung town."
Well if H5N1 can get into the CNS that is extremely bad news. Inflammation in the head = increased inter-cranial pressure, plus a cytokine storm would make it even worse - leading to what? Avian Flu Related Human Head Explosion Syndrome?? Hemorrhagic fever where they bleed out from their eyes and mouth and ears?
We already know that Bird Flu in birds can make them explode with the pressure from built up from edema.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/16/2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It isn't suprising to me that we're seeing more mammalian infections, I suspect we'll soon be seeing an epidemic of cats and such dying in Southeast Asia, which will be the warning sign to all of us. For now though, it appears to be yet another isolated case:
"Thai scientists have reported a case of H5N1 influenza infection in a dog, adding to the long list of mammals that the avian flu virus can infect.
The report, which suggests the dog became infected by eating ducks killed by the virus, also underscores a need to figure out whether the virus can be transmitted through consumption of infected animals or their meat, a World Health Organization scientist said yesterday.
"This is the third species or fourth species that has been infected by eating carcasses. So I think we really have to think about the risk of oral ingestion," said Michael Perdue of the WHO's global influenza program."I mean, these guys are getting infected somehow and we don't know how."
It appears only Canadian news sources are picking this up for some reason...
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/12/2006
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Again, AlertNet is first at the scene:
"Egypt has detected its first human case of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus since May in an Egyptian woman who raised ducks from her home, a World Health Organisation official said on Tuesday.
Hassan el-Bushra, regional adviser for communicable diseases surveillance at the World Health Organisation, said the woman had tested positive for the avian influenza virus in tests carried out by Egyptian health authorities.
The new infection brings the number of human cases in Egypt to 15, of whom six have died. All the previous infections were detected between March and May after the virus first surfaced in Egyptian poultry in February.
The woman, 39-year-old Hanan Aboul Magd of the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya, has been in hospital since Oct. 4 and has been treated with the drug Tamiflu, state news agency MENA said.
The woman was on a respirator but her condition was stable, MENA said. Her family was being tested for the virus."
It sounds like Tamiflu is working for the H5N1 strain in Egypt. Good news. It still seems like most of the cases are related to people living in close contact to domesticated poultry. Stop keeping chickens and ducks in your house people! They're outside pets! Outside pets!
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/11/2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I was holding off reporting on this because I figured it was just something the Indian media was just overhyping, but I will hold out no longer, seeing as AlertNet is now talking about it. Here's what they have to say:
"Hardly anyone knows what chikungunya fever is, but the Indian press is going mad about the mysterious illness. It seems to be catching the media imagination not just because it's rare and has an unusual name, but also because it's coincided with an outbreak of another virus - dengue fever - carried by the same mosquito, aedes aegypti.
Chikungunya doesn't kill, but gives people a fever and all-over aches. Dengue, on the other hand, can be fatal, and there's no vaccine. It comes in several forms, but the haemorrhagic kind makes people bleed from the nose and gums, and kills one in 20 of its victims. The death toll in India is more than 45, with over 3,000 infected, including the prime minister's son-in-law and two grandsons.
China, Cambodia and the Philippines have outbreaks going on too, and Filipino bloggers are questioning the official data. They're also suggesting long sleeves for the daytime - when aedes aegypti bites - and citronella candles outside to keep the pests away. If you're thinking in the long term, then planting eucalyptus and neem trees is another good idea.
If the blogging world had switchboards, they'd be lighting up with accusations of a hidden dengue epidemic in Cuba. It's impossible to tell from 4,000 miles away if details are being covered up, but Cuban officials seem to have been openly fumigating door-to-door, checking people's water tanks, and spraying insecticide with a Soviet-era biplane."
So why is the Indian media all over chikungunya when dengue season is in full swing? What the hell is chikungunya anyway? Wikipedia tells me a few facts: it's supposed to be rare, mild, and can cause arthritic symptoms. Sounds pretty boring... must be the RLS of India.
This Cuban dengue epidemic on the other hand... That's got legs, baby!
Although it can only detect whether the bird flu is resistant to tamiflu or not. This is not a test to diagnose Bird Flu, just to find it's type -- a step which the new test basically halves the time it takes to do so. So instead of eight hours, now the doctor will be able to tell you "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do" in four hours! Exciting stuff!
Wouldn't the doctors just administer the tamiflu at the start of symptoms and see if it helps? Who are these doctors out there holding out on treatment until they're absolutely sure that it will be beneficial? It's not like oseltamivir is some hellish drug like amphotericin B or something and a hasty administration might be dangerous. Oh well, here's what The Nation wrote about it:
"Chulalongkorn University has successfully developed a new testing method for fast and accurate detection of bird flu resistance to the anti-viral drug oseltamivir, currently the best defence against the lethal virus.
The testing technique was capable of detecting any sub-types of the H5N1 strain, said Professor Yong Poovorawan, of Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Medicine, who led the development team.
"This means it could be used anywhere in the world to see if the virus is resistant to oseltamivir or not, and in time to save patients' lives," he said.
Moreover, the testing technique was also developed to be used with a conventional biomolecular testing laboratory in areas where the advanced type was not available.
It had been found that a significant difference between the H5N1 virus, which was oseltamivir resistant, was the change of amino acid at position 274 of the N1 subtype, Yong said.
The new testing method was developed based on this finding, using both Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and Conventional PCR. The former takes between two to four hours to know the results, whereas the latter takes approximately eight hours to tell whether the virus is resistant to the drug or not.
Chulalongkorn researchers had tested the technique on both human and animal specimens and whether both were resistant to oseltamivir. The human specimen of the world's first case of oseltamivir resistance in Vietnam was taken for testing in Thailand."----------------------------------------------------------
Save patients lives? Its not like there's dozens of antivirals out there that are ultra-specific like it is for antibiotics. If the patient is showing signs of bird flu, why isn't the protocol to just put them on both zanamivir and oseltamivir and wait for signs of improvement? How does this test ultimately do anything useful? What can a doctor do to save a patients life if they have resistant H5N1? Cold compress and a saline drip?
But anyway, thank you Chula U of Thailand, thank you for speeding up a test no doctor in their right mind would worry about doing.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's got more troublesome news to report as H5N1 has spread to their pigs. Cause, ya know... its not like pigs and humans have similar physiology or anything...
I realize now that many people don't quite "get" what SuperStrain is all about. They must wonder, am I merely a pawn, peddling fear to keep those who might be active shut away and entrenched? Am I a producer of the culture of fear, am I a consumer, blinded by the party line, or am I delivering something else entirely?
Yes, my posts are hyperbolic. Yes, they largely revolve around fearful topics and come to fearful conclusions. Yes, much of what I say is overdone and overblown. Blogs are nothing if they are not entertaining. But I am not merely here to entertain you. I want you to wake up America. WAKE THE FUCK UP!
I am not a friend of the government, and I am not a friend of those who wish harm to this country I live in. I am simply here to tell you that the government can not protect you. You can not give the government your freedoms in exchange for safety, they have no safety to deliver. Currently, America is choosing to give its liberties away, betting on the chance that doing this will make the world less scary.
We are hoping that our large buildings will not be blown up, that a man with a dirty bomb strapped to his back will be stopped before it goes off, that we can blow nuclear warheads out of the air before they hit us, that we can stop deadly diseases from entering our homes. To guarantee these things is impossible.
The current regime, the Bushites, would have you believe that they are distracting terrorists by making war in Iraq, that they are safeguarding the lines of infectious transmission, that they are going to make missile defense work, and they are going to turn the middle east into our friends. I have no doubt their real intentions are completely different than what they tell the American public day in and day out. They do not want to keep you safe, they want to keep you under their control.
They want to give government hand-outs to large corporations, with huge no-bid contracts. They want to personally make extreme amounts of money and preserve the power structure they have been able to create. They want to keep us guzzling gasoline, they want to keep us running just to stay in the same place, they want us to be over our heads in personal debt so we wouldn't dare attempt to displace the cold corporate world that now exists, and has only existed for a mere 60 years at the most.
But while they struggle to control you and your mind and your wallet, they cannot control nature. Nor can they stop the free exchange of information, and they most certainly cannot stop the things and people that truly threaten this nation.
They have failed to secure 250 million doses of Tamiflu. They have failed to create a health care system capable of handling an emergency pandemic. They have failed to mass produce anthrax and small pox vaccines. In fact they have cut the budget of the CDC and the NIH, our first line of defense against infectious disease, They have failed to keep out likely terrorists. They have failed to free the middle east from theocracy and totalitarianism, they have failed and yet they are still beloved by millions simply because they wrap themselves in the symbols of our nation.
But I am not here to give a stump speech for any political system or party. Ultimately, it is nature that is the ruler of all men. Nature will thin us out when we get out of control, nature may even obliterate us. So yes, I am here to give you fear. But I am not here to make you afraid of the things the establishment wants you to be afraid of: teen violence, illicit drugs, dark streets, rabid dogs, mental illness, gangs, perverts, kidnappers, satanism...
You should not be fearful of these products of society, they are false demons. Fear nature. Fear the swing of the pendulum which shall swiftly destroy all that society has built up. Don't prepare for the dark nameless worries that the media produces, these are the products of the culture of fear -- merely shadows used to lure you into complacency.
Prepare for the collapse of the system. Be aware, be watchful. Learn the skills and trades that will be needed rebuild civilization. Learn how technology works, learn how to make a battery. Learn how to make an incandescent light bulb. Learn how to use a gun, learn how to make your own ammunition, and learn how to stay healthy in a world without hospitals and pharmacies.
Its not the obliteration of society that you should expect, its merely what you should prepare for, if staying alive is something you wish to do. Don't wallow in fear, for knowledge brings you power and power brings you security.
That is what SuperStrain is ultimately about. I am trying to wake America up. We are fed on the mush of processed foods and glossy television and fun diversions, but we have sold our souls to a corporate system that is in the first stages of collapse. If we do not know how to escape it, we will go down with it. You cannot trust Roche, or BioCryst or the WHO or the FDA or the CDC or FEMA. They may provide some help, but ultimately it is only you that can save your own ass.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Ok, the guy who put this whole story together is a retired soil scientist (BTW my dad is a currently active soil scientist... not that that has anything to do with anything...) and so the report is a little heavy on the science and the policy and local politics, but bear with it, as it seems the current spinach outbreak originating in Salinas is not the result of an isolated mistake or oversight, but a systemic and complete disregard of the safety requirements needed to prevent such an outbreak by organizations at the at the county and state level. Here's Frank Pecarich with the literally dirty details:
"I am one of the last to cry “cover-up in government” but sometimes the evidence seems overwhelming. For weeks now the US has been suffering one of the worse outbreaks of E. coli in our food stream in history. This event centered on spinach grown in Monterey County. On September 8 it started when Wisconsin reported that there was a problem to the CDC and it was on September 14 that the FDA issued an alert asking Americans to shun spinach.
As we watched this repeat of previous E.coli contaminations unfold, there was a distinct sense of deja vu. By now all have now read that there have been 20 such cases in the last decade and an FDA official recently said that we probably could expect a 21st case. This is the ninth outbreak that has been traced to the Salinas Valley.
A major concern is the fact that Monterey County since at least 1998 has been irrigating 12,000 acres of edible food crops with tertiary treated sewage effluent water in their $78 million Castroville Sea Water Intrusion Project. The Monterey County officials, including their local Congressman, have been claiming that their tertiary treated sewage effluent is safe to use as irrigation water and has been fully tested. As they tap-dance and send out this “no-worry” message, much of the regulatory and scientific world looks on in wonderment.
Other than in Santa Rosa, California, which recently started irrigating about 6000 acres of crops with municipal sanitation system sewage effluent, it is probable that no other governmental entity in the US uses sewage effluent to irrigate contamination-vulnerable crops like spinach and lettuce. Even Nevada, well known to appreciate gambling, would not gamble on the safety of their food supply. A few years ago even Nevada instituted a prohibition on using effluent to irrigate contamination prone food crops and like most sensible people limited the use of effluent water to golf courses and the like. Canada, realizing that the United States was using effluent on exported vegetables recently proposed regulations that will not allow the importation of produce that has been irrigated with sewage treatment plant effluent to be sold as 'certified organic' in Canada.
While all this has been going on, inspectors from government agencies have been combing the fields in Monterey County looking like Junior Inspector Closeaus. It’s as if the FDA and others never picked up a research study as the evidence is compelling that using effluent to irrigate edible crops, certainly tender leafy green vegetables, is a very bad idea.
Since the government officials cannot seem to find the truth, let’s – like the Little Red Hen – do it ourselves. We can start with the 2005 interim research report of the august andhighly acclaimed Agricultural Research Service which is the primary research branch of the USDA. In their report entitled "Groundwater Recharge and Wastewater Irrigation" to Protect Crops and Groundwater, the soil scientist researchers were unequivocal in their conclusion that E. coli was present in treated effluent that passed through pipelines on its way to the point of irrigation. Specifically they said, “this research established that although the reclaimed water met EPA standards for irrigation at the treatment plant, there is great potential for bacterial re-growth during transport that could place the water out of compliance at the point of intended use.”
The USDA scientists went on to say, “this work illustrated the critical need to understand the environmental fate of microorganisms and the potential for bacterial re-growth in reclaimed water used for crop rotation so that future problems of food and groundwater contamination via wastewater irrigation can be prevented”. Because the USDA study emphasized the E. coli contamination potential in the pipelines, it should be noted that Monterey County’s pipeline system to deliver this treated sewage effluent to farmland is forty five miles in total length. What the USDA ARS 2005 report then concluded was that E. coli can get through tertiary treated water and onto cropland.
Monterey County has cited as evidence their own “homegrown” studies that basically ended in 1987. They used these studies to justify their proceeding with their recycled effluent-food crop irrigation efforts."
Another example of the government not liking the facts of science, so they concoct their own studies with the "truthiness" needed to rationalize their own cost-cutting and hazardous behaviors.
If the government doesn't believe what scientists are telling them why do they even hire them in the first place?
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/09/2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Up until now the produce companies responsible for the spinach-related E. Coli outbreak have only had to face consumer lawsuits and bad press. Now the federal authorities are getting involved. Will they get a slap on the wrist? We shall see, but when the FBI gets involved, its generally pretty serious. Here's more from the San Fransisco Chronicle:
"A quest to locate the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 191 people and killed one woman escalated Wednesday into a criminal investigation as federal agents raided the offices of two northern California produce processors for evidence that someone may have intentionally disregarded safety policies.
At about 9:30 a.m. agents from the FBI and Food and Drug Administration served search warrants at Natural Selection Foods LLC in San Juan Bautista and Growers Express in Salinas. Employees were asked to leave their work stations and visitors were barred from entering the doors, as investigators, donning rubber gloves, searched the facilities.
The FDA has said that this recent E. coli epidemic can be traced to spinach packaged by Natural Selection. But until now, the case has been a study for scientists -- not law enforcement. William Marler, a Seattle-based attorney, who specializes in food-borne illness cases and is representing nearly 100 people in the spinach E. coli outbreak, said he can count on one hand the times when the police have gotten involved.
One of those cases was the high profile Odwalla E. coli contamination in 1996 which killed a 16-month old girl and sickened 66 people. The case ended with the Half Moon Bay company pleading guilty to federal criminal charges of selling adulterated food products and agreeing to pay a $1.5 million fine.
Criminal investigators said they have reason to believe that spinach producers may have willfully turned their backs on following proper procedures. They spent much of Wednesday combing through paperwork and records, including quality assurance documents."
A proper FBI investigation ought to put to rest any rumours of this being an intentional bioterror attack. I wonder why the DHS isn't involved? Oh yeah, cause they're still a worthless bunch of idiots. It would be nice to have a Department of Homeland Security that could actually secure the homeland, ya know?
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/05/2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Medical News Today was a bit kinder with it's headline of Novel Way To Protect Against All Flu:
"A novel way of slowing down the rate at which a flu virus infects the body could well become an effective protector from all types of influenza, even pandemics, say researchers from the University of Warwick, UK. Animal studies have shown this procedure protects against a wide range of influenza viruses.
The researchers took away some genetic material from a flu virus, making other viruses less effective at spreading rapidly in the body. This slowing down gave the body time to develop an immune response and fight it off.
Current vaccines stimulate the body's immune system so that antibodies are produced. These antibodies stick to the surface of the virus and destroy it. The problem with the flu virus is that its surface is changing all the time. As soon as you have a vaccine a new strain appears with a different surface, against which the vaccine is useless.
The research team took away 80% of the virus' genetic material from one of 8 individual segments of single stranded RNA, rendering it harmless. As soon as another flu virus enters the body, this harmless one reproduces, slowing the rate of spread of the new virus - in other words, it competes with the new virus. This gives the body time to develop an effective immune response to the new virus. It completely prevents flu symptoms developing."
Am I the only one seeing the forest for the trees here? Okay, let's break it down. We have two viruses competing against eachother - one basically castrated and the other a regular virus.
1) Castrated Virus A - mutates to compete with Alpha Male Virus B
2) Alpha Male Virus B has to compete with the growth of Eunuchitis, thus mutating to become faster (in the short term being slowed).
Meanwhile Virus A, Castratoencephalitis, is mutating all the while to "become a real boy again".
How is this not a system for making already strong viruses stronger, and making entirely new strains of viruses out of weak ones that we have way of knowing how they'll end up?
Thus the products of this "novel way," as far as I can tell, would be:
1) Stronger regular viruses
2) Entirely new and bizarre viruses
Good lord let's just stick with our fancy pants protein-inhibitor vaccines before we careen off into new virus land, m'kay?!?
Maybe Dr. Nigel Dimmock will happen to google his own name and then let us know how wrong I am about this whole matter.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/04/2006
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
From The Telegraph:
"The drive to fight deadly flu pandemics with special antiviral drugs risks creating an untreatable "superflu", the head of -Britain's public health watchdog has warned.
Sir William Stewart, the chairman of the Health Protection Agency, warned that the widespread use of antiviral drugs to treat illnesses, including bird flu and seasonal influenza, is causing- viruses to mutate into drug-resistant- forms.
He claimed that drug-resistant viruses now represented as big a threat to public health as antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria, such as MRSA. His comments come as bird experts were once again placed on alert for cases of avian flu returning to Britain with migrating birds.
The autumn migration of waterfowl triggered the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus into western Europe and Britain for the first time last year, as the disease spread rapidly in wild birds trying to escape the cold weather. A dead swan discovered in Fife, Scotland, in April this year, was the only bird flu case to be found in a wild bird in Britain.
Officials at the Department of Health confirmed that, last week, it received the last of its stockpile of 14.6 million doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which will be used if bird flu mutates into a human flu pandemic.
But Sir William, a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, fears that the drug will be useless if the flu virus develops resistance to it during the mass medication that would be necessary in a pandemic.
"With pandemic flu, once it develops antiviral resistance in one area, it is likely to spread quickly," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "One of our concerns is that we get Tamiflu-resistant strains emerging.
"Unfortunately, it is unknown if Tamiflu will be effective when pandemic flu emerges and how long it will be effective for. Anti-viral resistance is becoming as big a problem as antibiotic resistance." Sir William stressed, however, that it was better to have stocks of antiviral drugs that helped patients fight non-resistant flu strains than no drugs at all to protect the population.
Meanwhile, last night, bird experts warned that the spectre of bird flu infecting flocks in Britain would return this winter, as ducks and swans migrated south over the coming months."
Face it, at some point there will be a pandemic plague-like disease modern society will be unable to stop or cope with. It is a historical fact, there will be a bug that beats us in the game every once in a while.
I like to think of H5N1 as the test run. If we can stop it, then we can stop most anything. That doesn't mean we can stop everything - and at some point, a virus will pop up that wipes out millions and millions. Technology designed to stop infection has the double-edged effect of giving the diseases something to mutate against.
Can our technology always beat infection? No, and anyone who thinks it can is a fool.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/03/2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Say experts, according to Penn State:
"As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration narrows the search for the cause of a nationwide outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 tied to bagged spinach, a specialist in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences said the incident may lead to tighter controls on food safety at the farm level.
Luke LaBorde, an associate professor of food science who studies food-safety issues associated with fruits and vegetables, said the FDA has been concerned about green, leafy vegetables having more than their share of contamination problems.
"The FDA had been focusing on lettuce, and now they've added spinach to their 'alert list' of commodities," LaBorde said. "Once investigators determine how this occurred, the next step will be to find new methods to prevent this from happening again."
Only fresh spinach grown in three California counties is implicated in the outbreak. It is uncertain to what extent fresh bunched spinach is involved, so the FDA has extended the advisory to include all types of fresh spinach grown in the counties. Processed spinach (e.g., frozen or canned) is not implicated in this outbreak.
"The problem of foodborne disease linked to produce isn't new -- there have been several outbreaks in the last several years, several attributed to leafy greens," he added. "But I believe this is one of the few involving fresh, pre-washed, bagged spinach. It's very rare, but the consequences of this bacterium can be devastating, and that's why we're so worried about it."
One of the government's options is to increase the level of oversight on the farm. Currently, LaBorde said, regulation is limited to the processor, but federal agencies are considering extending it down through the food system to the producer, as well."
Blah blah, all this means is the government now has a reason to get more control over something they previously had little control over. Wow, the paranoid type might conclude that this whole thing was staged by the government to increase its power and control.
It sure would make it easier on the MegaGrow corps. like Monsanto (who seem to be real friendly with global governance, in case you didn't notice) if the government could shut down small-time growers without any recourse or due process...
Think Industrial Food Production is better than the truck farmer? Think again.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 10/02/2006