(PRWEB) December 6, 2005 –
Bird Flu Beacon (http://www.birdflubeacon.com) has been created to inform professionals and the public about the progress of a potential pandemic. The site features both the latest bird flu news and practical tips for preventing infection and for protection in case of infection.
Recently the site posted news of a controversy in China, which has been accused of under-reporting human bird flu infections and deaths. Dr. Masato Tashiro, a virologist working with the World Health Organization, reported in a meeting with his colleagues that there were 300 deaths and 3,000 people quarantined in Hunan province based on unconfirmed, unofficial reports he obtained in Hunan.
Boxum.com, a Chinese website, also made this claim, adding thousands have been quarantined, and human-to-human transmissions have occurred. The site reported 77 deaths of workers who were helping control H5N1 in poultry in Liaoning province. Shanghaiist.com, in their November 28 issue, offers a photo of an alleged formal government document giving instructions to suppress and control bird flu reporting.
Official Chinese sources put the number of deaths at two. Whether the Chinese government is engaged in a cover-up or the reporting system for H5N1 is vastly inadequate, the results are the same: under-reporting.
Under-reporting of bird flu infections in China and other Southeast Asian countries gives a false sense of security. The press frequently reports that fewer than 130 people have been infected with H5N1 avian flu and fewer than 70 have died worldwide. The low numbers are based on confirmed numbers only.
There are enormous problems in gathering accurate data, according to Dr. Shoshana Zimmerman of eHealth Institute and a founder of Bird Flu Beacon at http://birdflubeacon.com/
- Farmers reporting bird infections are likely to have their flocks killed and lose their livelihoods, even being left destitute.
- Few farmers and rural villagers have medical services.
- Doctors may be untrained in bird flu symptoms.
- Getting a sample to a lab for H5N1 analysis is cumbersome and expensive.
- Countries which report large scale outbreaks can expect to experience widespread panic and economic loss, as occurred with SARS.
“It is almost inconceivable that China should have only 2 bird flu deaths when thousands of workers are exposed to sick birds through China’s bird vaccination program. Under-reporting has worldwide implications, and is reminiscent of the flu epidemic of 1918 which killed 20-50 million people. In 1918 the public was given false assurances, and the threat minimized and under-reported until a pandemic could no longer be denied. Bird Flu Beacon was created to help make sure this does not happen again,” Dr. Zimmerman added.
About Bird Flu Beacon: For factual information, thoughtful analysis, and bird flu news you can trust go to http://www.birdflubeacon.com. The site features the latest bird flu news,a map tracking its path, and practical tips for lowering risk of infection or deal with bird flu if it comes to their hometowns. It also features a blog, http://bird-flu-blog.blogspot.com/ which reports news and commentary.