Homeopathic medicine, in my opinion, can be very effective and has grown tremendously from its original beginnings. I recently got shot an e-mail about a research company/instutute/??? doing pandemic prevention/control research using a homeopathic approach. If they come up with anything you can be quite sure that it's far safer than heroic doses of new barely-tested antivirals.
The research institute is called Molecular Dyne, here's a little bit from their page:
"THE MDYNE MISSION
To explore, test, and refine Advanced Classical Homeopathy as it pertains to the rapid treatment and cure of epidemic diseases; To explore, design, test, and implement emergency medicinal mass production, distribution, and treatment protocols.
We deal in continued study and research for the bulk of our activities. Our affiliate lab continually pawns off other science & engineering intellectual property and capacities in restructuring for the MDyne mission. We study, study, study and practice, practice, practice with a big picture and critical emerging technology priority view to things. We try to heal sickly livestock with aggressive, experimental tactics -- sometimes killing them. What we learn there, we apply to tending to pets and humans with much greater precision. Application of our drugs is half the story. Being able to rapidly tend to patients, properly prescribe, properly redose, rapidly train field medics, rapidly produce, and rapidly distribute medicine at local, state, continental, and international levels....that's the difficult objective and nearly Impossible Mission. But, we've implemented a few things. In the meantime, we circulate around, practice our quackery to sharpen our skills, and have squashing Cancer as a hobby R&D interest which also overlaps a bit with the primary mission. "
As it stands I'm actually very happy to hear the homeopathic medicine has started to tackle things other than "migraine relief" and "body cleansing"...
My minds pretty open, considering that the current antivirals aren't working for H5N1 and the only FDA approved vaccine for it is few notches shy of being as affective as Vitamin C.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
And by god you know damned well I'm going to get the jab! Here's the full story from Reuters:
"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first bird flu vaccine for people won U.S. approval on Tuesday as an interim measure in case an influenza pandemic strikes before a better immunization comes along.
The vaccine made by French company Sanofi-Aventis will not be sold commercially. It is being stockpiled by the government for use if the H5N1 bird flu virus mutates to a form that can spread easily from person to person.
The Food and Drug Administration said two injections given 28 days apart may provide "limited" protection if a pandemic occurs. About 45 percent of people who got the vaccine in a study developed an immune response to the virus.
The vaccine is "sort of an interim measure" until better ones are developed, said Norman Baylor, director of the FDA's Office of Vaccines Research and Review. Several companies are working on other versions.
"Ideally, yes, you would like a vaccine that would have a higher efficacy," Baylor told reporters.
A single shot and a lower dose also would be preferred, Baylor said. The dose needed for the new Sanofi vaccine is higher than used in the seasonal flu vaccine."
Wow 45% protection! So with this vaccine you have about 50/50 odds of getting H5N1, and then 50/50 odds of dying from it. I assume better vaccines will be coming down the line soon -- I can see why the government is doing a "limited" stockpile of it.
Here's to millions spent on the virus too stupid to mutate after 3 years of chances!
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/18/2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Apparently the bedbugs are making a comeback - and they bite! Seems like us puny primate mammals still can't outwit the invertebrates. Here's the scoop on the situation from the San Fransisco Chronicle:
"Walter has stopped hugging his friends. He is throwing out his clothes and furniture, and he rarely comes out of his Tenderloin hotel room anymore.
He's not suicidal, but darn near. He has bedbugs.
Nearly eradicated in the United States 50 years ago, resistant strains of "super" bedbugs are infesting mattresses at an alarming rate. In what's being touted as the biggest mystery in entomology, all 50 states are reporting outbreaks of the blood-sucking nocturnal critters.
Pest control companies nationwide reported a 71 percent increase in bedbug calls between 2000 and 2005. Left alone, a few bedbugs can create a colony of thousands within weeks.
"We never treated bedbugs until 2002. Now we have a dedicated bedbug crew working on this every day," said Luis Agurto, president of Pestec in San Francisco.
Agurto's arsenal includes a vacuum, steam heat to cook the bedbug eggs and targeted spraying of insecticides. It takes three, eight-hour visits and about $500 to $750 to exterminate one room. A whole house would cost closer to $5,000.
The bulk of Agurto's clients live in low-income hotels and shelters in the Tenderloin, but he's been called to five-star hotels and suburban homes in Walnut Creek.
Bedbugs have been found in moving vans, public transit seat cushions, airplanes, college dorms and even a Bay Area meditation retreat. They spread by hitching a ride on your clothes or in your luggage and crawling off to infest your home or apartment building.
Nearly 300 bedbug infestations were reported to San Francisco health officials in 2006, more than double the number in 2004. Most of the cases involved travelers discovering bedbugs in upscale hotels.
The size and shape of a lentil, bedbugs lay eggs during the day and hide in your bed, clothing and light sockets. At night, they suck your blood, leaving itchy bumps on your skin and little bloody excretions on your sheets. They don't pass diseases, but they are incredibly difficult to exterminate, even following their blood hosts who move to new apartments trying to get away.
The bedbug resurgence has sparked Web sites like bedbugger.com, where people share extermination tips, bite mark photos and counsel each other through the stigma. There are bedbug symposiums, cover stories in American Entomologist magazine and dozens of videos depicting infestations on YouTube. California just issued its first state bedbug guidelines, and New York lawmakers want to ban the sale of reconditioned mattresses after 4,600 bedbug cases were reported in 2006.
"The Laundromat near my building is packed, the tenants are in there, washing everything they own and giving each other knowing glances," said Walter, who has been battling bedbugs for five weeks and fears he will be kicked out of his Tenderloin studio and made a pariah if he reveals himself.
Lady Bug, a beagle professionally trained to sniff out bedbugs, makes regular rounds with Agurto's Pestec crew in San Francisco. On Friday, the dog inspected Tina Blade's room at the Empress Hotel in the Tenderloin, smelling the bed frame, baseboards and carpet.
To Blade's relief, Lady Bug deemed the room all clear. Blade is not among the dozen people who have had bedbug infestations in the 90-room Empress, but she has been bitten at other single-room occupancy hotels in the neighborhood.
"I'd always heard that nursery rhyme, 'Don't let the bedbugs bite,' but I never knew it was real until I moved to San Francisco," she said.
Empress manager Roberta Goodman is proactive about bedbugs. She conducts tenant meetings, keeps Pestec on call and has Lady Bug in every month to make sure the bugs are staying at bay.
"I can keep our community educated, but I can't control the guests who are coming in and out; that's why we do monthly checks," she said.
Bedbugs were nearly eradicated after World War II, when exterminators and homeowners used DDT to get rid of the pests. Experts say bedbugs are making a comeback because of increased global travel and a shift toward less-toxic pest control. As people are backing away from harsh chemicals and indoor spraying, the bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to the pesticides.
"We don't use as harsh chemicals as we used to, we don't spray mattresses with insecticide before selling them anymore, and the bugs are getting increasingly resistant to the few chemicals we have left," said public health biologist Laura Krueger, who wrote the new bedbug guidelines for the California Department of Health Services.
Nearly all exterminators use pyrethroids, which are a synthetic version of pyrethrum, the substance found in chrysanthemum flowers. But last fall, at the University of Kentucky, some of the nation's best bedbug researchers delivered some sobering news -- while they could kill bedbugs born in the lab with pyrethroids, four groups of adult bedbugs brought in from the outside were unaffected.
Because bedbugs are such a new phenomenon, people don't know what to do about them and are often unwittingly making their problem worse, said Nobugsonme, a New York woman who runs the bedbugger.com Web site to help sufferers cope.
A victim herself who wanted to remain anonymous, Nobugsonme said in a phone interview with The Chronicle that a series of pest control visits is the only way to get rid of the bugs. Moving the mattress, sleeping in the living room, using a bug fogger or moving in with a friend will only relocate the bugs, she said.
"People who throw away all their possessions and battle this for months and spend thousands on pest control only to relocate and have the bugs reappear are really traumatized," she said. "They are getting only a few hours of sleep at night, they feel itchy all the time, some go to therapy over it."
Thirty percent of people don't have skin reactions to bedbug bites, and may not notice an infestation until it has gotten out of control.
Pest control researchers are experimenting with alternatives such as steaming or freezing the bugs to death, and some New Jersey exterminators are gassing them with the termite killer Vikane.
UC Berkeley urban entomologist Vernard Lewis is trying to get grant money to build a baited bedbug trap. Bedbugs give off a distinctive odor, described as rotting coconuts, and that's probably how the males and females find each other, he said.
"If we can mimic that funk, that stink, I think we could make baits and monitor them," Lewis said.
Until the experts figure it out, bedbug sufferers will have to help each other fight back and raise awareness.
When Atlanta filmmaker Kyle Tekiela made a short bedbug film noir and put it on YouTube, he was shocked by how many people contacted him begging for help with bedbug problems.
"Students from all over the country sent me videos of their dorm rooms," Tekiela said. "This one guy did a 360 where the ceiling meets the walls and there was a three-inch band of bedbugs all the way around."
I'd like to add here, that contrary to popular thought, DDT isn't a super-toxic death chemical. We stopped using it in the US because it has the unfortunate side-effect of thinning the eggshells of birds who have it in their system -- and this was causing a wide-spread decline in the populations of our wild birds, raptors in particular. Since we like our eagles and hawks more than we hate our ants and roaches, we stopped using it... it's just as poisonous to humans as any industrial pesticide currently on the market.
Remember, fire ants continue to spread and kill because we don't use DDT. We almost killed those bastards off too, then Silent Spring got published.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/09/2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
"JAKARTA, Indonesia — The bird flu virus racing through Asia killed a teenager in hardest-hit Indonesia and a young girl from Cambodia, both after being admitted to hospitals in serious condition, health officials said.
The 15-year-old girl from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta died late Thursday after experiencing multi-organ failure, said Sardikin Giriputro, a doctor at the facility.
“By the time she arrived, it was too late,” he said Friday.
The Cambodian child was initially suffering from high fever and diarrhea before being transferred from an eastern province to the capital Phnom Penh but she quickly got worse, the World Health Organization and health ministry officials said.
The 13-year-old developed a cough and was struggling to breathe before dying Thursday.
Bird flu has killed at least 170 people since it began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in 2003, WHO said. It remains hard for people to catch and most human cases have been linked to contact with sick birds — including the two latest deaths.
But experts fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic that could kill millions.
Indonesia, the hardest hit country with 73 human deaths, is seen as a potential hotspot for that to happen because of its high density of poultry and people.
Health Ministry official Muhammad Nadirin said local lab tests confirmed the girl who died Thursday — apparently after coming into contact with the family’s sick pet bird — had the H5N1 virus.
Cambodia’s death was that country’s seventh — and the first in a year.
Some chickens in the girl’s village died before she became ill and she may have been exposed to the virus after preparing and eating tainted chickens, said WHO and the health ministry.
Officials have been sent to the area to see if any other villagers were displaying flu-like symptoms or had come in contact with sick or dead poultry, they said in their statement."--------------------------------------------
Death comes quickly when Bird Flu strikes. It seems as though deaths from H5N1 run the gammut, from the very young, to teens, to people in their 30's and 40's... I haven't many reports about the elderly dying from it though. Interesting.
Winter's over and Bird Flu keeps killing. So far its kept to being very non-contagious and very deadly. The world's poultry reserves are dwindling and yet the thing is still going, unhampered, unchecked. The tell us there'll be vaccines...
This whole thing is just depressing the hell out of me. I think I'll just start posting on yellow fever in Africa. It might drop my readership but hell, at least there's resolution to those stories. H5N1 keeps eating at us, never swooping down for the kill, never making the fucking connecting mutation, and yet it still kills at least 3 people a month as far as I can tell for about 2 years now. How many bodies does it need to feed on before it goes pandemic and this story has a climax?!?
How long can the world collectively hold its breath on this thing?
Maybe the decriers are right, maybe H5N1 is just a paper tiger. Statistically minuscule, a gnat in the shadow of other killers: the Iraq War, Dengue, hell even the regular flu has killed more people this year.
I guess it's an issue of control. I can't control my government's actions in Iraq, besides through my vote and letters I write that no one reads. I can control H5N1, I can protect against it. I can be vigilant and prepared. That must be the appeal. No one wants to read about the horrors of the world that they can not contain, that they can not guard against.
And yet, H5N1 won't go away. We've kicked it up out of the depths of Southeast Asia and it just won't leave. First it killed all our birds, and now we're killing all our birds so it doesn't kill us. But its not going to kill us. There's no spark, there's no fire, there's only virus that holds the flint and refuses to use it. Its a terrorist; stays in the news, makes a few small attacks, and threatens to undermine the whole world.
I'm coming to believe that it's barely worthy of our attention. Fuck you Bird Flu - you're no black plague and you never will be. So just go the hell away!!!
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/08/2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
Never heard of the company before this news, but apparently they won the contract from the EU. Here's the story from Forbes.com:
"AMSTERDAM (AFX) - Dutch biotechnology company Crucell NV said it was awarded a European Commission-funded grant for the development of a pandemic flu vaccine.
The 1.7 mln eur grant, which was awarded to a consortium of nine leading universities and companies working in the field of influenza research, will finance pre-clinical and clinical testing of H5N1 vaccines.
'With a vaccine already in clinical trial based on H9N2, Crucell broadens its pandemic influenza vaccine portfolio adding another potential pandemic strain,' commented Crucell's Chief Scientific Officer Jaap Goudsmit.
Three influenza subtypes, H5, H7 and H9 have caused highly pathogenic avian influenza. Although presently most vaccine development has focused on H5N1 strains, avian H7 and H9 influenza subtypes remain a pandemic threat and have caused infection in humans in Asia and Europe since 1996, Crucell noted."
The race is certainly on. There should be almost half a dozen "consumer-ready" H5N1 vaccines in about six months or so. There's already reports of some in existence, but until I see something from a medical journal showing they gave the vaccine to a pig then inoculated it with H5N1 and it didn't get sick will I believe any claims of efficacy. So keep me posted, New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet readers, cause I want to be one of the first to report on a successful human vaccine for H5N1.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/06/2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I was wrong! These guys caught the bird flu! Hopefully they pull through. Here's more from France 24 Hour News:
"Preliminary tests for bird flu were positive on four Bangladeshi workers who had been culling infected chickens in Kuwait, a medical source said on Wednesday, but they have not been officially confirmed.
This would be the first cases of bird flu affecting humans in Arab nations of the Gulf. "
The first test on the four men was positive," the source told AFP, requesting anonymity. "We have taken blood samples for a second test to reconfirm the initial results. We expect the outcome within hours.
"If the outcome is reconfirmed as positive, we will have to send blood samples to the World Health Organisation (WHO) laboratory in Cairo for a final confirmation," the source said.
Health ministry spokesman Ahmad Al-Shatti told AFP an official statement would be made on Thursday, after tests results were reviewed, as to whether the four were indeed infected.
The ministry said specimens "have been sent to the World Health Organisation (WHO) reference laboratory in Egypt for confirmation.
"These measures are in line with recommendations by WHO for guidelines for the diagnosis and announcement of bird flu cases in humans," he said. The four workers were admitted to Kuwait's infectious diseases hospital with flu-like symptoms on Tuesday. The men have been isolated in a special ward and were still at the hospital on Wednesday."
It could still be a false-positive. If they are infected however, this will be an interesting show of the disease's virulence. We have a nice round number of patients (4), who are being treated early in, what the picture shows at least, a modern medical institution -- surely a "best-case scenario" when it comes to an H5N1 infection. The outcome of their cases will clearly illustrate how combative this disease is towards modern medicine.
Don't get me wrong, though, I'm certainly rooting for the humans.
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/04/2007
Been a little lax lately, so here's some breaking news with a little more info about the H5N1 situation in Kuwait. This story comes from the Kuwait Times:
"KUWAIT: Four Bangladeshi workers who had been culling chickens infected with bird flu were admitted to hospital in Kuwait with flu-like symptoms yesterday, the health ministry said. "The four men are members of the teams combating the disease and have been involved in culling chickens. They were admitted to hospital over suspicions they might be infected," ministry spokesman Ahmad Al-Shatti told AFP. Shatti said it was not the first time that anyone had been admitted to hospital to be kept under observation for the disease.
A total of 22 people have so far been admitted to the infectious diseases hospital for monitoring before being discharged after testing negative. The spokesman said there was greater concern for the four new admissions, however, as they had been handling infected fowl. A total of 106 cases of the strain have so far been confirmed in birds.
Earlier yesterday, the health ministry said that bird flu hit a new commercial poultry farm leading to the culling of at least 200,000 more egg-laying chickens. Authorities said on Saturday that they have culled 1.5 million fowls, including 1.1 million egg-laying chickens in three commercial poultry farms in Wafra, south of Kuwait City on the Saudi border. The new culling raises the number of layer chickens culled to 1.3 million, which represents about 75 per cent of the state's total. Kuwait also has 32 million broiler chickens, for eating, but no bird flu case has been found among them.Since the outbreak was first reported on February 25, Kuwait has slapped a total ban on the import and export of birds and closed down bird markets, as well as hundreds of shops that sell live chickens and the state's only zoo. In November 2005, Kuwait announced the first case of a bird infected with the deadly H5N1 strain - a flamingo at a seaside villa. The H5N1 strain, the most aggressive form, has killed more than 170 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and seen millions of birds destroyed. H5N1 is an avian influenza subtype with pandemic potential, since it might ultimately adapt into a strain that is contagious among humans."
Kuwait's actions are smart and quick... I have a feeling these four will be cleared as negative for H5N1. Good thing they still have quite a few million edible chickens. It seems like if you want a sure bet for an investment, the US Poultry Industry can't be beat. Europe is running out of countries to import chickens from...
Posted by Frobisher Smith at 4/04/2007