THIRD BIRD FLU DEATH CONFIRMED

“What is a health which merely makes people ripe to be damaged, abused, and shot at again?” ~ Ernst Bloch.

A report from Reuters carries the news that 11-year-old Hulya Kocyigit did, indeed, die of bird flu. The tests have been confirmed.

AP, via Forbes, reports that officials in Dogubayazit, namely, the Kurdish mayor, Mukkades Kubilay, continue to accuse the Turkish government of a slow response to the crisis in the city:

Local officials accused Turkey’s government Thursday of moving too slowly to slaughter fowl when bird flu was still confined to birds, as the number of people infected with the deadly H5N1 strain climbed to 18.

Mukkades Kubilay, the mayor of Dogubayazit – where three siblings died a week ago – complained that Ankara had sent in only three doctors and that there were not enough workers to destroy poultry.

“It’s an extraordinary situation,” she told The Associated Press. “There aren’t enough workers. We don’t have enough technical people … We’re trying to do it on our own.”

National health and agriculture authorities denied they did too little, too late, to contain the outbreak, which was discovered in poultry in December.

The poultry in question were discovered on 15 December, to be exact. However, one must search for the information and it is sparse when one does find it. For example, there are no indications of any report from Turkey, dated 15 December, at the bird flu news listing on Science.bio.org, nor is there any report at the Avian Flu – What we need to know blog.

However, there is a small report at the Poultry Information site during the month of December for the Kurdish region:

Quarantine in bird flu town

BIRD flu has been found in dead chickens in Turkey, authorities revealed today.

Officials said the chickens tested positive for an H5 variant of bird flu and placed parts of an eastern town under quarantine.

The virus was first detected on Monday following tests on samples taken from the town of Aralik, in the Igdir province bordering Armenia, where deaths of chickens have been reported in recent days, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Authorities have already culled 360 chickens to prevent it from spreading and said “all necessary measures were being taken”.

The statement said samples would be sent to labs in Europe to see if the virus is H5N1, which is being tracked worldwide out of fear it could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted to humans.

Similar information carried on a chronology of the bird flu outbreaks in Turkey, from the Houston Chronicle. Under the 15 December date, we read the following information:

Dec 15: Possible outbreak of bird flu in chickens in town of Aralik is first reported to Health Ministry. Authorities order fowl culled.

If we read down a couple more lines, we read the response of the Turkish government to the earlier outbreak in the Turkish region:

Oct. 6: Turkish authorities report deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in poultry in northwestern town of Kiziksa, near Istanbul, impose quarantine, order tens of thousands of fowl culled.

In the Kurdish region, some 360 birds were culled, with “all necessary measures being taken. I suppose that should mean that Tamiflu was being sent and people were being warned. However, from later reports, we know that this was not the case at all. In the Turkish region, tens of thousands of birds were culled.

Since the government knew this disease had been present recently, and it knew that there was –and still is–a great possibility that there would be more outbreaks, why did “all necessary measures” not include culling of far more birds in the Kurdish region, warnings to the people and pre-positioning of medication in case of an outbreak of the disease among humans?

From a BBC report dated 13 October, it appears that Tamiflu was available in the Turkish region, because people flocked to pharmacies to buy it:

Turkish authorities have urged calm, amid reports of people flocking to pharmacies to buy Tamiflu, the anti-viral believed to be most effective against bird flu.

Again from the AP report:

“Whoever says that we’ve responded too slowly has ill intentions,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Mine Tuncel said.

No, Ms. Tuncel. Whoever responded too slowly is the one with ill intentions.

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