Join 3,513 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Unconfirmed mini-outbreak of H5N1 in China
November 23, 2005 5:56 PM   Subscribe

China isn't known for being open about most things, including the spread of deadly diseases. (Many will remember China's original attempt to cover up SARS. As the International Society for Infectious Diseases reports, a prominent WHO virologist has made a claim that China has now experienced at least 300 human avian flu deaths and is actively attempting to cover this information up. "We are systematically deceived," he is reported to have said. "At least 5 medical co-workers who should be reporting on the situation in the provinces were arrested, and [other] publication-willing researchers were threatened with punishments."
posted by chakalakasp (27 comments total)

 
By the way, for those who can read it, here's the original article in German, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine.
posted by chakalakasp at 6:02 PM on November 23, 2005


Note that the ISID isn't reporting anything; it's simply re-forwarding the German newspaper report. That's what ProMed does.

More importantly, rumours of Chinese deaths have swirled since the first confirmed reports of bird deaths in May. None have borne fruit despite the efforts of a number of net-based gossipmongers/conspiracy theorists. The WHO has recently praised Chinese openness, and Chinese premier Hu has toured the affected area and noted what a difficult problem it is. So it's not exactly a repeat of the SARS-CoV sit'n.
posted by docgonzo at 6:12 PM on November 23, 2005


Yes, this is true -- however, they're reforwarding a report that was made of a respected WHO virologist who made these claims. Obviously, it's "unconfirmed", but it's still quite interesting, no less. If some Joe Schmoe had made these claims, no, it wouldn't be newsworthy, but a WHO virologist?
posted by chakalakasp at 6:16 PM on November 23, 2005


He's not a WHO virologist. He's a virologist who works at a WHO-affiliated lab.

And just 'cause he's got a PhD after his name doesn't mean he 'aint as gullible as the next guy.

The real issue here is who is his source? Is he duped by reports like these?
posted by docgonzo at 6:27 PM on November 23, 2005


The world is over populated anyway.
posted by j-urb at 6:36 PM on November 23, 2005


although my comment is 'unconfirmed', what about the dozen cases in 2002 in texas (and presumably elsewhere in the us) of SARS that were covered up by the bush administration??? they just changed the name to something like acute respiratory failure, according to pulmonologists i've spoken with. i think it's equally likely avian flu has been found but covered up as well, in the interests of 'security'.
posted by drgonzo at 6:37 PM on November 23, 2005


Ah, the cranks and jackasses are here.
posted by docgonzo at 6:43 PM on November 23, 2005


i know you are but what am i?
posted by drgonzo at 6:44 PM on November 23, 2005


Quote:

Tashiro visited China on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Hunan province. His laboratory, at the National Institute for Infection Research in Tokyo, as one of the Asian points of contact for the United Nations, had been particularly entrusted with investigations into avian influenza in Asia and China.

Dr. Masato gave his lecture in the University of Marburg Clinic before some the most outstanding virologists in the world and shocked the meeting with his unauthorized data [report] from inside China. The Japanese virologist [said he] firmly believes in the reliability of the source and its data.

... At least 5 medical co-workers who should be reporting on the situation in the provinces were arrested, and [other] publication-willing researchers were threatened with punishments [he said].

End Quote.
posted by hank at 6:45 PM on November 23, 2005


Another report here from a different source with similar import.

The blogger presenting it says he can't tell you if it's true or not. So it goes.
posted by hank at 6:49 PM on November 23, 2005


He's not a WHO virologist. He's a virologist who works at a WHO-affiliated lab.

Holy heck, are we ever splitting hairs today? Okay, he's a respected virologist who's affliliated with the WHO and who reports to the UN. Are you done being pedantic?
posted by chakalakasp at 6:54 PM on November 23, 2005


But note that China has, very recently, shown signs of opening up and in fact has just reported a 2nd human bird flu fatality, this following last week's reporting of the first.

I've also read (sorry, can't find the source but it might be that NPR report I just linked to) that China has reversed it's course and is now promising punishment to local officials who fail to report the bird flu. Quite the opposite of how SARS went down.

I'm no fan of China's approach to free speech (as in it's not), but the international concern seems to have filtered through the goverment apparatus there. This is actually chilling--it's a problem so big and potentially devastating that it's making China rethink its openness (on this issue).
posted by donovan at 7:12 PM on November 23, 2005


Okay, he's a respected virologist who's affliliated with the WHO and

nooo, he works for a WHO-affiliated lab.

J/K.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:14 PM on November 23, 2005


The question isn't who works for the WHO, or that China lies; it's about how much China lies about public health. We don't know by how much, but it's a lot.

Thank God for Communism.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:47 PM on November 23, 2005


Hold on, hold on, I'm getting confused. Exactly who are the crackpots? The "scare the populatation with a bogus bird flu" conspiracy theorists or the "holy shit we're all gonna die and the man is covering it up" conspiracy theorists? Or is this a whole new level of public deception?
posted by Foaf at 7:54 PM on November 23, 2005


I'll be under the bed with a high-powered handgun and a bottle of gin while you guys sort this out.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:58 PM on November 23, 2005


> Okay, he's a respected virologist who's affliliated with the WHO and

>> nooo, he works for a WHO-affiliated lab.

Boil that dust speck! BOIL THAT DUST SPECK!

(And McArthur was right: the U.S. should finally nuke China now.)
posted by davy at 8:41 PM on November 23, 2005


Put it this way: I really wish I could dismiss this report offhand. That I cannot, is very troubling.

China must work hard to earn trust, and mistrusting them -- particularly on this issue, where they have specifically and deliberately taken actions which impacted the public health of far-off countries -- is not unreasonable, and their own damn fault.
posted by dhartung at 9:04 PM on November 23, 2005


Agree with dhartung; the burden of proof is on China to prove they're being open and transparent, after all the shit they pulled over SARS.

"More importantly, rumours of Chinese deaths have swirled since the first confirmed reports of bird deaths in May. None have borne fruit despite the efforts of a number of net-based gossipmongers/conspiracy theorists."

These "gossipmongers" were the very same people and websites who broke the first details of the SARS cover-up.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:16 PM on November 23, 2005


Agree with Asparagirl and dhartung.
posted by homunculus at 10:28 PM on November 23, 2005


Am I the only one confused by drgonzo and docgonzo arguing with one another?

And to save me effort doing that nasty thinking stuff, which one is evil?
posted by Malor at 11:32 PM on November 23, 2005


Put it this way: I really wish I could dismiss this report offhand. That I cannot, is very troubling.

Errrr, exactly HOW is that different than most political/big business posts on Metafilter? (or other places)
posted by rough ashlar at 5:05 AM on November 24, 2005


well, we're both evil, but in different ways.

doc is all self-righteous and i'm always right and radical this and that and humourless and the dr is all hey listen, although this opinion is unconfirmed, there might be a way we can all get along without arguing and calling names and maybe there are things we don't know about what our governments are doing behind our backs
posted by drgonzo at 5:41 AM on November 24, 2005


THAT'S IT I'VE HAD IT: PISTOLS AT DAWN, DR.
posted by docgonzo at 6:55 AM on November 24, 2005


[Dr. Masato Tashiro] claimed that a reliable source
had provided him with details of the true nature of the H5N1 virus in China. "We are systematically deceived," he is reported to have said.


Feh, we're systematically deceived every single day, it just happens that relatively few notice as most management of many media pick up only the loonies with conspiracy theories
in hope that the false equation incredible = crazy = not important sticks in the audience. With some superficial audience it apparently works well.
posted by elpapacito at 7:48 AM on November 24, 2005


What's going on here?

I used to think I understood the doc/dr gonzo difference, but it's getting hazy.
posted by raedyn at 8:48 AM on November 24, 2005


Followups 1 and 2 at ProMed, link here

(1)
Quote:
Statement from Dr. Masato Tashiro ---------------------------------
I am surprised to read the report .. {archive number 20051123.3399).

First of all, it is not correct..... in Marburg, I stated that WHO's official numbers of H5N1 human cases are only based on laboratory confirmed cases. It should be therefore an iceberg phenomenon. .... it is reasonable to consider that more cases have occurred actually. We have heard many 'rumors' or unauthorized information which we cannot confirm. In this context, I talked about a few examples ... which I received through private channels. ....
End Quote.

(2)
The Israeli daily "Haaretz" ... in a front-page
article earlier today [24 Nov 2005] (translation from Hebrew):

"...Prof Hans-Dieter Klenk from Marburg University in Germany, confirmed -- in an interview with "Haaretz" ... -- the quote from Dr Masato Tashiro.... "Dr Masato presented a well-detailed table, in Chinese, which included more than 300 human fatalities, resulting from avian influenza, recorded in China during recent years"...."[Tashiro] said that he had received the unofficial report during his visit to China in recent weeks", said Klenk".
posted by hank at 12:43 PM on November 24, 2005


« Older The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project...  |  Typophile speculates.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments