Tick. Tick. Tick.
From the Wall Street Journal Avian Flu News Tracker (subscription required):
9:15 a.m.: Preliminary tests indicate that another Turkish child is infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, raising the total number of human cases in the country to 21. The Turkish Health Ministry said the child was from Dogubayazit ‘” the hometown of all four of the other children who have died of H5N1. Samples from the child were being sent to a WHO laboratory in Britain for analysis and independent confirmation, officials said
From today’s New York Times:
Turkey’s difficulties in halting its outbreak have underlined the challenge for poor countries in detecting the disease early. Bernard Vallat, the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health, said that it was crucial to catch an outbreak within the first 48 hours, and that Turkey had failed to do so.
“The spread of the disease is exponential,” he warned.
At this point, it seems that HHS should send a notice to every state and local government charting the recent experience in Turkey, with a summary of the transnission details as they are understood in the 21 cases. States with large poultry operations need to be prepared to stop such an “exponential” spread from flock to flock if/when the virus arrives in the U.S.
My guess is that no such plans exist in most states.
BTW: Here is an account of the impact of the flu on the underdeveloped economy of rural Turkey which relies upon flocks to produce food. This is a glimmer of the far reaching effects of this fast moving virus even if never makes the transition to a human-to-human virus:
‘They fed their kids with their eggs. They don’t have other money. They’ll be ruined,’