Bird Flu In Istanbul

I don’t think we need to panic, but I do think we need to follow this very closely.

Twenty-one people in the Istanbul area are in hospital amid fears they have bird flu, newspapers said on Monday, raising concern the deadly disease has spread to Turkey’s commercial hub of 12 million people.

Hopefully this outbreak will be contained, but it does seem to be moving very quickly.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

8 thoughts on “Bird Flu In Istanbul

  1. “Although it is not a cause for panic, there is certainly a cause for concern, preparation and vigilance.”

    Colin Blakemore, chairman of the UK government-funded Medical Research Council talking to the BBC. I couldn’t have put it better myself, now could I :).

    The head of Britain’s leading medical research organisation called for vigilance as the nation kept a worried eye on the spread of bird flu in Turkey.”I think the chance (of bird flu reaching Britain) must be high because birds do migrate,”

  2. There are also views for all tastes here. The Independent yesterday:

    “Some experts say the sudden increase in the disease in people means the virus has mutated to enable it to spread more efficiently from poultry to people. They fear also that it may have started to move from person to person, signalling the start of a devastating spread around the world. But others believe the Turkish outbreak has been fuelled by close contact with infected chickens which have been brought into homes to shelter them from harsh weather.”

    http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article337233.ece

    It’s the speed of the spread which is striking.

  3. From your Independent link:

    “UN experts headed for a remote area of eastern Turkey yesterday to find out whether it is witnessing the start of the much-feared pandemic of bird flu that could kill 150 million people worldwide.”

    Sounds like an ominous opener for a horror movie. Quick prediction for 2006: reruns of thrillers and horror movies with deadly diseases in them.

    All flippancy aside, this is rather worrying. One of my neighbours inspects poultry slaughter houses for a living. So far she hasn’t been concerned too much, but I’ll keep an eye on her work schedule. If she starts working overtime, I’ll know there is trouble. Okay, I am being flippant again.

  4. An important point obviously is that it does not spread from person to person …

    What is more important though is that if this sudden surge indicates that it has mutated to more efficiently move from animal to person; what is to stop it from mutating once again?

    I am not crying wolf, and I am certainly no expert in virus mutation, but it is quite worrying.

  5. I absolutely agree Claus, there is an acceleration here, and it is important to know what is causing it.

    Obviously if there is a mutation which makes it easier to pass from birds to humans, this means more human cases, and more possibility of more mutations. This seems to be a simple matter of statistics.

    Also while the numbers seem inconsistent, they aren’t. One thing is the number of confirmed (analysed) cases (at present 15 in all of Turkey) and the number of people under observation in hospital in Istanbul alone (which seems to have just risen from 21 to 23).

  6. This I think is one part of the problem:

    Prior to the announcement of bird flu cases at the beginning of January, it was determined the virus was actually first detected in the laboratories of the Agriculture Ministry on December 9.

    A ministry statement on the same day denied the existence of the disease in Turkey. Also on the same day, the ministry’s Veterinary Control Research Institute Directorate kept secret the autopsy records of suspect chickens, turkeys, and geese. These birds, it was confirmed, were infected with the bird flu virus. In different samples received from laboratories in Erzurum, Kars, Erzincan, and Agri in November, the bird flu virus was also detected. The data was recorded in laboratory reports on December 9-10. Twenty five days after confirmation of the new diagnosis, Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker stated, “There is no bird flu in Turkey.”

    Zaman Monday, January 09, 2006
    http://www.zaman.com/?bl=national&alt=&hn=28437

  7. Cool down. Bugs brewing inside our domestic animals have been with us for millennia. The great flu of 1918 had more to do with 4 years of war with undersupplies etc.

    Plus, it doesn’t even get fun before the stage where you have ditches filled with burning bodies. Anybody remember the cow disease in Britain? Now that was some party. Imagine we could have something like that, wouldn’t it rock for a change of the daily monotony?

  8. If the war was to be blamed, why didn’t it hit mostly in the warring nations of Europe? Secondly, the continued exposure to deseases of domestic animals and the continued existence of our species is consistent with occasional dramatic die-backs.

    Personally, I draw the limit of fun where my precious life is at stake.

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