Monday, January 09, 2006

Bird flu in Turkey: static on the station

The news from Turkey continues to worsen, although hard information is still difficult to come by. Five new "confirmed" cases of H5N1 are being reported, this time from still new locations in the north. The EU has banned a wide range of poultry products from Turkey and a number of its neighbors, so the effects of this outbreak are already being felt in international trade. (BBC)

Meanwhile a WHO team is in Turkey attempting to ascertain what is happening, apparently admitting there are at least nine cases in the space of a week. They are also doing some last minute spinning:
Bernardus Ganter, co-ordinator of the WHO mission, said there are so far nine confirmed cases of the disease in the south-eastern region of Turkey.

Speaking on the Today programme, Dr Ganter said the team was working with the Turkish authorities to exclude the possibility of human-to-human infection.

"The team is now in place, five international staff are in Van working together with the experts from the ministry of health and an additional smaller team will be in Ankara doing similar things with the ministry of health in Ankara," he said.

"We are convinced of course that [the cause of transmission] is still the exposure directly to diseased or dead chickens who carry the virus, so there is no indication now that there is human to human transmission; we certainly should exclude this in a more appropriate way," he added. (NetDoctor)
I don't get this. If they are so "convinced of course" why the haste to check it out in a "more appropriate way." Sounds like they are inappropriately convinced, or, more likely, whistling past the graveyard. It always surprises me when public health officials spout stuff that, on its face, is ridiculous, but since they do it all the time, I don't know why I surprised.

The truth is they don't know what is happening. At this point all the rest of us can do is stay tuned. I just wish there weren't so much static on the frequency.