Avian flu may portend a 1918-like pandemic, says Osterholm

first_imgNov 15, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The nature of the widespread avian influenza outbreaks in Asia points to the threat of a human flu pandemic that could rival the disastrous pandemic of 1918-1920, infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, warned in a public forum in Minneapolis last week.There are disquieting signs that the H5N1 virus circulating in Asian poultry flocks could do as much damage to humanity as the “Spanish flu” virus of 1918, said Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of this Web site.The H5N1 virus has already killed 32 people in Asia, and disease experts say it could trigger a pandemic if it acquired the ability to spread easily from person to person. If that happened, said Osterholm, it’s unlikely that an effective vaccine could be made available quickly.”At minimum, assume we will not have a vaccine in the first 6 to 8 months of a pandemic,” he told healthcare professionals at a clinical infectious disease conference Nov 12 at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome.Osterholm spoke the same day the World Health Organziation (WHO) concluded a 2-day international conference on pandemic flu that drew about 50 vaccine company executives and government officials to WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO officials at the meeting urged governments to invest in vaccine development to help head off a pandemic.Osterholm said the 1918 pandemic caused “at least 40 million deaths, but probably closer to 100 million, if you talk to the historians.” A disproportionate number of victims were healthy young adults, he added.Given the lack of good defenses, Osterholm estimated that a 1918-like virus arising today could cause more than 1.7 million deaths in the United States and as many as 177 million worldwide. (Editor’s note: The estimate of 264 million deaths that was originally published here was later recalculated to adjust for age.) The US death toll in 1918 was about 500,000.In 1918, he said, flu victims suffered severe lung damage that led to acute respiratory distress syndrome and often died within 48 hours, he said. Further, it was the virus itself, rather than a secondary bacterial infection, that led to death in many cases.Osterholm cited signs that the H5N1 virus could cause the same kind of severe disease as the 1918 H1N1 virus if it triggered a pandemic. He said researchers recently have largely recreated the 1918 virus by sequencing its genome from preserved tissue samples from victims of the pandemic.In lab experiments, researchers have spliced key genes from the 1918 virus into present-day flu viruses and then exposed mice to the genetically engineered viruses, Osterholm said. Viruses that normally wouldn’t harm the mice have been rendered lethal by this procedure. “It’s not only killing the animals, but the pathology is identical to what we saw in 1918” and in human cases of H5N1, he said.Further, Osterholm said studies of the H5N1 virus isolated from recent human patients point to a gene that causes a “cytokine storm”—a flood of molecular messengers triggering inflammation—similar to what was seen in the 1918 victims. In effect, the body’s immune system response to the infection, rather than the infection itself, is what makes the situation so dangerous. It also explains why healthy young adults, with their robust immune system, may be at particular risk.Multiple obstacles would make it next to impossible to produce an effective vaccine and make it rapidly and widely available if a pandemic began now, according to Osterholm.The world’s total production capacity is about 300 million doses, with manufacturers concentrated in just nine countries. With current technology, it takes 6 months or more to grow flu vaccines in chicken eggs, and the yield from a given number of eggs is no more predictable than a corn crop.”Production capacity will not increase significantly in the next several years,” Osterholm predicted. He said vaccine makers want to develop a cell-culture method of producing flu vaccine and are unlikely to spend money to increase production with the traditional egg-based technology.The National Institutes of Health is developing a vaccine for the H5N1 virus, with Aventis Pasteur under contract to make 2 million doses. But Osterholm said the immunogenicity (ability to trigger an immune response in laboratory tests) of the candidate vaccine “has been poor.””The earlier versions of this [vaccine] are not protective against the current strains,” he said.In the early stages of a pandemic, he concluded, “I don’t believe we’ll have a pandemic influenza vaccine of any substantial nature.”He added that while antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir could be helpful in fighting a pandemic virus, they would be in short supply.last_img read more

NEW ALBUM AND A LATE LATE SHOW APPEARANCE FOR CLANNAD

first_imgClannadClannad will release their long awaited new studio album ‘Nádúr’ on September 20th 2013 on the ARC Music label.The band mark the release of the album with an appearance on RTE’s Late Late Show tonight. ‘Nádúr’, the Gaelic word for Nature, is a fitting title.The album sees the family band – siblings Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan and their twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan – back together on record as the full original line-up for the first time since the 1989 album Past Present.Following Pól’s departure after that album, the band continued to release four highly successful albums – the last being the Grammy-winning album Landmarks in 1998.In 2011, Clannad were invited to perform a series of concerts at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral. With the intimate and historic nature of these shows, Pól was invited along to be part of the event. The concerts were a huge success and they were filmed and recorded for a DVD and CD which were released following airings on PBS in America.This event provided the catalyst for the five of them to start seriously considering a new album but before going into the recording studio they decided to embark on an extensive tour across North America and Europe. This time together on the road helped shape the ideas they had for Nádúr.“The fact that we’d toured quite extensively in the months leading up to recording really had an effect on the album,” says Moya Brennan.“Playing live across various countries gave us a really good indication of not just what we wanted from a new album but also what the audience out there wanted to hear. We feel this record touches on every aspect of our forty year career. Every track is different yet every track is pure Clannad”Nádúr contains 13 new tracks; including Vellum, Rhapsody na gCrann, TransAtlantic (co-written with Colm McCann), Brave Enough (with guest Duke Special), The Fishing Blues, Lámh ar Lámh, , The Song in your Heart, Setanta, and the traditional Cití na gCumann.Nádúr is a very natural progression to the Clannad sound, which since the 70s has been to fuse the traditional with the modern, the past and the future, with stunningly beautiful results. Colum McCann, states in his liner notes for the album, “Clannad – the family – have taken the local and made it universal once again. Is é seo nádúr dhúchasach …this is their inherent nature.”“It will always be so.”NEW ALBUM AND A LATE LATE SHOW APPEARANCE FOR CLANNAD was last modified: September 13th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:CalnnadLate Late Shownew albumlast_img read more