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    Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Avian Flu Update: NPR had an excellent piece yesterday about influenza vaccine production. The number of birds required to produce the eggs is astounding. And Sanofi-Pasteur, at least, is expanding its facilities to make more flu vaccine by the old method.

    Meanwhile, Michael Fumento reviews efforts to make a better, faster flu vaccine against avian flu.

    Researchers say that chest x-rays of people with avian flu show widespread infection in the lung and destruction of lung tissue, which explains its lethality:

    "On chest x-rays in patients with avian flu, the most common abnormality we found was multifocal consolidation, which usually represents pus and infection in patients with fever and a cough," said Nagmi Qureshi, F.R.C.R., a fellow of thoracic radiology at the University of Oxford in England. "We also discovered that the severity of these findings turned out to be a good predictor of patient mortality."

    The investigators studied 98 x-rays of 14 patients admitted to Ho Chi Minh City Hospital in Vietnam after testing positive for avian flu. They assessed the x-rays for features commonly seen in chest infection and then looked for associations between x-ray appearances and mortality. Of the 14 patients studied, nine patients died and five survived.

    Three of the five patients who survived underwent computed tomography (CT) exams after discharge from the hospital. CT images showed that even though the patients' respiratory symptoms had abated, the abnormal appearance of the lungs persisted, suggestive of scar tissue formation.

    Dr. Qureshi described the findings as similar to what was seen previously in patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). "The appearance of multiple accumulations of infection in the lung is found in both avian flu and SARS," Dr. Qureshi said. "However, additional abnormalities we discovered in avian flu patients—including fluid in the space surrounding the lungs, enlarged lymph nodes and cavities forming in the lung tissue-were absent in patients with SARS."

    To date, there have been 133 cases of human avian flu infection and 68 deaths, all in southeast Asia. Though some fear the virus has already mutated to become more infectious, the numbers don't support it.

    The incidence of plain old normal flu, remains very low so far.

    posted by Sydney on 12/06/2005 07:24:00 AM 0 comments


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