The Bird Flu Breakdown: Two Children in Vietnam

This article was originally published in May of 2006 at It is presented here with updates noted under the section titled “Modified Specifics.” This was research I did concurrently with the initial publication, but was not able to wrangle into the first writing. – LS 2/2011

– flu survivors in Vietnam

The much anticipated bird-flu plague has yet to emerge, despite much hue and cry. This comes as no surprise to those of us who are familiar with the machinations of the WHO (World Health Organization), CDC and NIH, and their pharmaceutical partners.

But, for those more trusting of public health authorities who wish to know more about the making of public health policy, I thought I’d review some of the bright and shiny inconsistencies that have come into view on the bird flu.

Stray Cats and Chinamen

In March, 2006, The Associated Press reported: “In Austria, state authorities said Monday that three cats have tested positive for the deadly strain of bird flu in the country’s first reported case of the disease spreading to an animal other than a bird.”

The report quoted the World Health Organization (WHO), which said that “bird flu poses a greater challenge to the world than any infectious disease, including AIDS…”

Really? Bigger than AIDS? Who knew? But why would it be so? Because three cats in Austria tested positive? What does that mean? How many cats, in all of Austria, did they test? What would happen if you tested every cat?

How about every bird? How about every person? Do we know how many people actually have tested positive for bird flu? Maybe a dozen? A couple hundred?

How about millions.

In the November 8, 2005 New York Times’ , Gina Kolata reports1:

“Some experts like Dr. Peter Palese of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York say the A(H5N1) flu viruses are a false alarm. He notes that studies of serum collected in 1992 from people in rural China indicated that millions of people there had antibodies to the A(H5N1) strain. That means that they had been infected with an H5N1 bird virus and recovered, apparently without incident1.”

The 2004 Nature Medicine study2 that Kolata refers to puts it like this:

“It may be possible that infections of humans by avian influenza viruses have been ongoing for decades and it is only the reporting that has improved in recent years. If this were the case, the present emphasis on the imminent pandemic outbreak would not be justified.

In fact, seroepidemiological studies conducted among the rural population in China suggest that millions of people have been infected with influenza viruses of the H4-to-H15 subtypes.

Specifically, seroprevalence levels of 2–7% for H5 viruses alone have been reported, and the seropositivity of human sera for H7, H10 and H11 viruses was estimated to be as high as 38, 17 and 15% respectively.”

Millions of healthy Chinese already exposed, and carrying antibodies to Influenza A? But I’ve been told that the bird flu is fatal to half the people who encounter it. I guess somebody forgot to tell these folks to keel over.

And still, the WHO refers to this flu as the “pandemic strain” of “lethal influenza.” But is it? It is true that some people did die. About 115 in 9 years – that’s number of deaths attributed to the probably-not-so-deadly flu. So what did they die of? Why did bird flu kill them and not millions of others?

Two Children in Vietnam

The February 17, 2005 New England Journal of Medicine3 reviews the cases of two children in southern Vietnam, a brother and sister (aged four and nine), whose deaths are attributed to bird flu.

What are the important questions to ask when looking at illness in a rural, relatively poor country? First, how did the children live? What was their lifestyle, income or poverty level? How was their access to basic medical care, food and water? These things are crucial, but they are the very questions that are ignored when researchers get a fever for an a priori cause.

This NEJM study states in the title that bird flu was to blame: “Fatal Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in a Child Presenting with Diarrhea Followed by Coma”, but a thorough reading reveals that the children lived in a village and region notable for “crowded living conditions and diarrhea,” where there was a high rate of “gastrointestinal infection and acute encephalitis [brain inflammation],” which, the authors note, “alone or in combination are common clinical syndromes in southern Vietnam.”

Why is there so much endemic illness in rural tropical countries? Possibilities: Pesticide use, unsanitary living conditions, lack of sewage treatment and clean water.

How does that play out here? The report describes the daily living conditions: “The family lived in a one-room house…Water from a nearby canal was used for washing and, after boiling, for drinking. Patient 1 swam regularly in this canal, as did other children in the neighborhood.”

These children swam in a canal where people washed, where animals lived, and presumably where people dumped waste – and they also drank (and cooked with) that water too? And they ended up in the hospital with…. diarrhea? Hard to believe!

”[The patient had] a two-day history of fever, headache, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. His stools (daily frequency, 10 times) were watery without blood or mucus. On admission, he was alert, and the results of physical examination were unremarkable….In both siblings, the clinical diagnosis was acute encephalitis.”

Diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. But no lung problems: “Neither patient had respiratory symptoms at presentation…A chest radiograph also was normal”

Which the doctors note was strange, because congested lungs are the hallmark of this avian influenza: ”[W]hy influenza H5N1 presented in this similar atypical manner in these two siblings remains an enigma.”

But both of these children died; the girl within a single day, the boy within five days of entering the hospital. Upon admission, they were both given strong antibiotics: cephalosporins (beta-lactam drugs) and aminoglycosides4.

Aminoglycosides are associated with some potent toxicities, but beta-lactam drugs are the greater concern. Up to 10 percent of people world-wide have toxic shock reactions to these drugs, that can result in severe illness and even death.

A 2000 case report in the journal of Pediatric Dentistry states5:

“The incidence of adverse events triggered by penicillins [beta-lactam drugs] is believed to be between 1% and 10%. Up to one-tenth of these episodes are life-threatening, with the most serious reactions occurring in patients with no history of allergy.”

A 1997 review in the journal Postgraduate Medicine6 reports:

“The most feared adverse events attributed to beta-lactam antibiotics are IgE type I immediate or accelerated reactions. These develop within minutes to hours of drug administration and cause hypotension [abnormally low blood pressure], laryngeal edema [swollen throat – difficulty swallowing and/or breathing] or bronchospasm [lung spasm – difficulty breathing].”

“Unpredictable reactions occur independent of the dose and route of administration…a number of host factors (ie, genetic makeup….[concurrent] medical disorders) affect the frequency and severity of antibiotic-related adverse reactions].”(ibid)

A 2004 study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy7 states:

“The prevalence of self-reported drug allergy was 7.8%, 4.5% to penicillins or other betalactams…The most common manifestations were cutaneous [skin] (63.5%), followed by cardiovascular [heart and blood vessels] symptoms (35.9%). Most of the reactions were immediate, occurring on the first day of treatment (78.5%).”

“Occurring on the first day of treatment.” In this case, a drowsy nine-year-old girl with a four-day history of fever and diarrhea, but no lung problems, died within a day of entering a hospital and being medicated.

The girl’s brother, who entered the hospital alert, but with diarrhea, fever and vomiting, died within five days of being medicated. Siblings and family members often share allergies, including those to drugs. There is no record in the report of testing either child for an allergic reaction to any drug, so it has to be considered as a factor in their demise.

But how would you know if it was really toxic shock? By doing an autopsy, and examining the organs. We can assume that no one was interested in asking those questions, because in both cases: “Acute encephalitis of unknown origin was reported as the cause of death. No autopsy was performed.”

Besides the potential immediate allergic reaction, there are the standard effects of antibiotics – nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, muscular weakness and exhaustion8. Why do these drugs make you weak? Because they kill beneficial bacteria, and damage mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles that drive our cells and bodies. Does any of this help in recovery from weakness, vomiting and severe diarrhea? Not likely. What do antibiotics do for viruses? Nothing. Nothing at all. Presuming a virus was the problem.

The patient progressed predictably:

“As a result of increasing diarrhea and drowsiness, the patient was transferred to a pediatric referral hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on February 15.”

The rest was painful. Lots of drugging, followed by increased weakness, which led the doctors to be more aggressive. Both children were given spinal taps, an invasive and painful procedure in which a syringe needle is pushed through the spinal sheath between two vertebrae, in order to collect fluid for analysis.

The procedure requires patients to be still and relaxed as the needle penetrates their spine, then to lie flat for hours to avoid further trauma. The physical and emotional discomfort to a child could be extreme. But of equal or greater concern is the potential for introducing foreign material into the cerebrospinal fluid – it is a dangerous procedure. But in the case of the younger brother, it was especially so. In his case it was “traumatic”.

“Laboratory analysis of cerebrospinal fluid obtained by means of a slightly traumatic lumbar puncture….the lumbar puncture was traumatic…”

What does this mean, exactly? That the child squirmed, the flesh was torn wider than was intended, it bled a great deal, he was frightened, they did the procedure poorly and went into a nerve or jammed the needle in too far? Who knows? They don’t say, only that it was “traumatic”.

The results of the spinal taps were “zero or one white blood cell per cubic millimeter” – not signaling infection. An unexpected result in children who supposedly died of massive, disseminated viral infection. It does sounds like exposure to a toxin, however. But no toxicological tests were done.

Following that came more drugs, then more weakness, and then, “The patient had a generalized convulsion and became comatose 12 hours after admission.” He began to have trouble breathing, so they intubated (pushed a tube down the throat), ventilated (pushed air into his lungs), added barbiturate sedatives (Phenobarbital) and he perished a day later.

You could be forgiven for thinking that two sick children went into a rural hospital, were over-drugged, poorly cared for, and died as a result.

But we’re asked to exclude every other factor, because one of the children tested positive for influenza A (as do millions of others). And so, we are permitted to believe that it was one thing – the killer flu (and nothing else) – that was responsible for the deaths of these children.

(It should be noted that only one child’s death was attributed to the flu – the younger brother, who died in five days. Why? Because only his sample remained when the WHO came to town, nine months later, scavenging for potential flu cases. The children died in February, 2004; the WHO made the bird-flu diagnosis in November.)

Q: Why would a child test positive for influenza A?

A: Obviously, because he was exposed to sick birds.

As the report indicates:

“The routes of transmission in our patients are unclear. Epidemiologic investigations did not reveal exposure to ill poultry…the family owned apparently healthy fighting cocks. The parents did not handle poultry from markets.”

But it was certainly bird flu, because it was so terribly contagious:

“Before the children were admitted, they were cared for by both parents and several close relatives. No febrile [fever] illnesses were reported in the parents, close relatives, or other residents of the hamlet.”

“Direct transmission from sister to brother appears unlikely, considering the interval between their illnesses. Assuming that the two children died of the same illness, why influenza H5N1 presented in this similar atypical manner in these two siblings remains an enigma.”

So nobody else was sick, it doesn’t look like flu, there are no sick birds. An “enigma!” But it’s still bird flu, according to the WHO. So there’s only one thing left to do.

“Many chickens and ducks were present in the hamlet and canal during early 2004, but none were ill. All were culled in February as part of routine measures to contain the outbreak of influenza H5N1 in poultry.”

Sorry? What outbreak of H5N1 in poultry? But the WHO says it’s so, so a family and village that has lost two children now loses its pets, food supply and livelihood. Bye-bye birdies.

Killed or Culled?

Of all the birds that have died worldwide, how many actually died of illness? No one seems to be bothered by the question:

In October, 2004, reported: “Last week, some 3,000 chickens from three private farms in southern Tien Giang province [Vietnam] died or were culled after they were suspected of contracting the disease….Bird flu has killed or forced the cull of more than 43 million poultry in Vietnam.”

In September, 2005, the PBS investigative program “Wide Angle” reported that “Across Asia, some 200 million chickens and ducks have been killed outright by the disease or culled in an attempt to stave off further deaths, resulting in massive losses for poultry producers large and small9.”

And on May 12, 2006, FoxNews reported that “at least 113 people have died from the [H5N1] strain, which led to the slaughter of more than 200 million animals to prevent what health officials had warned could be a lethal pandemic.”

Two Hundred million animals slaughtered – all for a World Health Organization “could be,” because it could be infectious in humans.

But it was not in the case of the two children: “No febrile [fever] illnesses were reported in the parents, close relatives, or other residents of the hamlet.”

In 1998, the journal Science reported that a 3-year-old in Hong Kong died of bird flu, and yet:

“A clear epidemiologic link was not established between the infected child and infected poultry…there were a few sick chickens at the child’s preschool, but there is no evidence that the chickens were infected with avian influenza or that the child was in close contact with them10.”

Similarly a March, 2004 NEJM report attributes eight deaths to bird flu, but notes that no one exposed to the patients in hospital became ill:

The absence of any report to date of a similar illness among the health care workers who cared for these patients, despite the lack of full droplet and respiratory infection-control measures early in the outbreak, is reassuring11.”

In December, 2005, MSN-Japan reported: “China has given a clean bill of health to 41 people who came in contact with a woman who died of bird flu….The latest case was in Xinyuan, a county in the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, where 300 birds died on Nov. 24.”

One death, no infectious illness. But, just to be sure: “Authorities culled more than 118,000 poultry within a three-kilometer radius as a precaution.”

A six kilometer-wide area of birds killed, because we believe half of the people who are infected will die, even though millions test positive, because the health authorities and the media repeat it like a mantra: “fatal influenza! fatal influenza! Pandemic strain!”

But it’s not found in evidence. A March, 2004 NEJM study on flu patients cautions: “We cannot rule out the possibility of mild or subclinical infection in persons exposed to either ill poultry or ill persons11.”

“Mild bird flu” can’t be ruled out? I’ve never heard that on the evening news. So what would make a case “mild or subclinical” versus “fatal”?

The report on the brother and sister who died, with no exposure to sick birds, notes that the answer may not be in the virus, but in the patient:

“Further research is needed to determine whether host factors, which may determine a person’s susceptibility to disseminated or central nervous system infection, or a particularly neurologically virulent strain of virus, is involved.”

“Host factors” – a person’s constitution and pre-existing level of health. For example, whether the patient is a child from a poor, rural village with polluted water? That might be worth considering. How about how a patient is medicated? Maybe we should call for “further research” there, too.

But no, say the health authorities. Just because it doesn’t look like influenza, doesn’t mean we can’t call it bird flu:

“Patient 1 had no respiratory symptoms and a normal chest radiograph less than 24 hours before she died. Although Patient 2 showed signs of pneumonia during the last day of his life, a respiratory illness was not considered his most relevant clinical problem. Recently, another patient with influenza H5N1 was described with an initial presentation of fever and diarrhea alone.

These cases emphasize that avian influenza A (H5N1) should be included in the differential diagnosis of a much wider clinical spectrum of disease than previously considered and that clinical surveillance of influenza H5N1 should focus not only on respiratory illnesses, but also on clusters of unexplained deaths or severe illnesses of any kind3.”

“Include a much wider spectrum of disease…..focus on unexplained deaths or severe illnesses of any kind.” If I didn’t know better, I’d say that it sounded like somebody was trying to make it a lot easier to diagnose people with bird flu. Fever and diarrhea in Vietnam used to be “fever and diarrhea” – tropics and poverty and poor sanitation. Something we could do something about, if we wanted to. But now we don’t have to think about that. Because now, it’s “deadly H5N1”.

Modified Specifics

If a majority of people already test positive for flu antibodies, then what tests are being used to ‘diagnose’ patients such as those described above? The answer is P.C.R., or polymerase chain reaction. P.C.R. (or “viral load”) is a technology which chemically duplicates tiny partial lines of genetic material, millions of times, like a chemical xerox machine.

The process is invisible to the eye; it is done by adding pre-made chemicals – “primers” to start the copying process, and base pairs, to fill in the DNA ‘xeroxed’ duplicate – to extracts from patient blood, and mixing them, heating, cooling, adding more chemical, and repeating the process over and over.

The results are highly speculative, non-reproducible, fraught with error, and not established for diagnostic purposes. And yet, this technology is used more and more for just such a purpose in fomenting ‘pandemic’ fears.

How does it play out in real life? PCR allows a sleight-of-hand hidden from even the majority of medical professionals. Results are “interpreted” and “specific” primers (the chemical ‘starters’ added to the PCR process) are altered, when they give “non-specific results.” What we witness with P.C.R. is a lie dressed up as technology.

Ten Patients in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City

In the following 2004 report from Vietnam, 10 patient cases were reviewed.12 Eight of these patients died under ‘medical care.’ The patients both were and were not exposed to birds. The patients were children, and adults, some working in industry, some going to school. Two had sick family members, two of whom died (one was a mother who died after the death of her child. No details are given). The other eight patients did not have sick family members. We are not told anything about chemical, toxic or pollutant exposures – but like the two children in the previous episode, these people live in a region with high levels of toxic exposure, and little regulation of chemical use in industry.

“Seven of the patients were children attending school. [Three] were from the K’hor ethnic group, and worked as subsistence farmers…There was no contact among the patients before hospitalization. All patients presented with fever, shortness of breath, and a cough; Diarrhea was reported in seven of the patients.”

Like the two children, the patients were treated in hospital with unrestrained use of antibiotics and other drugs, including corticosteroids. The report notes that “diarrhea was a more prominent feature in the Vietnamese patients” than in those in Hong Kong, but they don’t look into why that might be. (Bad water? Polluted environment? They didn’t ask).

Most of the patients had contact with birds, for food preparation in the home. But there was no related “bird” flu pandemic. Only an apparent flu in a handful of individuals among a population of millions in dirty, crowded, large cities:

“The contact in six of the current cases involved direct handling of chickens or ducks (holding, killing, or defeathering them or preparing them to be eaten) within the patient’s home environment or small homesteads nearby, where a relatively small number of chickens were kept.”

But only in the traditional style: “None of the patients were involved in the organized culling of poultry or worked on large poultry farms.” Note: There was no “pandemic” outbreak of illness. There was no die-off of birds. There was only a similar “flu” at a similar time in some schoolchildren and some adults.

Drug Therapy?

Like the children in the previous study, these children and young adults “were treated empirically with broad-spectrum antibiotics on admission.” These drugs which weaken immunity, damage mitochondria – the energy-center of all cells – and often cause dangerous allergic reactions – these were the first line of “defense.” This is all to common in hospital care, where it is current practice to poison patients and then wonder they ‘do not respond well.’

The patients were drugged forcefully: Antibiotics, anti-enzyme drugs (anti-virals), dopamine, norepinephrine, Tamiflu: “Five patients were treated with the neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir [Tamiflu] for up to five days.” Did Tamiflu help?

“Oseltamivir [Tamiflu] was administered to five of the patients, four of whom died”

Why would that be so? The Tamiflu label offers an explanation:

  • No information is available regarding treatment of influenza in patients with any medical condition sufficiently severe or unstable to be considered at imminent risk of requiring hospitalization.”
  • “Efficacy of TAMIFLU for treatment or prophylaxis has not been established in immunocompromised patients.
  • “Serious bacterial infections may begin with influenza-like symptoms or may coexist with or occur as complications during the course of influenza. TAMIFLU has not been shown to prevent such complications.”
  • “Efficacy of TAMIFLU in patients who begin treatment after 40 hours of symptoms has not been established.
  • “Efficacy of TAMIFLU in the treatment of subjects with chronic cardiac disease and/or respiratory disease has not been established.”13

Tamiflu was released by Gilead Pharmaceuticals, (Donald Rumsfeld’s old company) without evaluation, or any evidence that it was a helpful drug. It was noted, however, at high doses to kill baby rats.

“The unpublished trial described by the FDA involved 7-day-old rats being fed a single dose of 1000 mg/kg of oseltamivir – about 250 times the dose recommended for children….The treatment was toxic, often killing the animals, and brain levels of the drug were 1500 times those of adult animals exposed to the same dose…It is hypothesized that an immature blood-brain barrier may cause the toxicity.”13

Antibiotics, pain suppressors, ant-viral (anti-protein, anti-enzyme) drugs, piled on top of each other – patients tend to deteriorate under chemical attacks like this. Doctors then graduate to harder drugs to suppress bodily response to the chemical and toxic shock. And that’s what happened: Methylprednisolone, a corticosteroid – was also administered to seven patients.

What do Corticosteroids do? They suppress the immune system. A XX paper, from XX, reports on the “many aspects of the host defenses that are altered by corticosteroids.” The paper was written by Anthony Fauci, now chief of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Fauci’s report notes that corticosteroids increase illness:

“Since the defect with corticosteroids is broad, it is not surprising that many types of infections seem to occur more often in patients treated with corticosteroids….[B]acterial infections, staphylococcal and Gram-negative infections, tuberculosis and Listeria infections,viral, fungal, and parasitic infections also occur often.

“Patients with lupus erythematous, rheumatoid arthritis, and renal transplant have more infection with steroid administration.”14

The paper continues:

“Studies of bronchial aerosols showed that with higher doses of steroid in the aerosol, Candida infections of the larynx and pharynx occurred more often.”

These drugs suppress the immune system, which is consistent with what the doctors found in these patients – increased illness, and a reduction of T Cells: “The most striking laboratory findings were marked lymphopenia and thrombocytopenia with a pronounced inversion of the CD4:CD8 ratio in the five patients in whom it could be measured.”

In other words, by drugging these patients so forcefully, the physicians brought on clinical AIDS – immune deficiency.

The results? “Six of the seven patients who were treated with corticosteroids died.” The paper’s authors note, sheepishly: “This experience is inadequate to permit the establishment of treatment recommendations with respect to corticosteroids; more aggressive treatments may have been used in patients with a greater severity of illness. Our experience suggests that supportive care may be the only option available.”

In other words, ‘Don’t do what we did.’

Bird Flu by Decree

These cases would not have been seen as “H5N1 Pandemic Flu” if not for the intervention of the World Health Organization. The combined report on these unrelated cases of illness and hospital poisoning, refers to a series of supporting, ancillary documents to make a “diagnosis” of bird flu.

As noted previously, antibody testing for flu is not adequate – too many people are positive. So, they graduate to PCR: “Rapid testing for influenza antigens in a small number of patients on admission was less sensitive than RT-PCR for the diagnosis of influenza A (H5N1).” From the paper:

“Our experience in this small number of cases suggests that the low sensitivity of the rapid diagnostic tests for influenza may limit their usefulness for the reliable detection of influenza A (H5N1) in humans, especially if patients present relatively late in the course of illness and if other strains of influenza A are circulating simultaneously.”

In other words, antibody tests don’t make the case that there is any particular “pandemic” flu strain. ‘So, let’s bring in the genetic marvel, P.C.R.’ Using a genetic test permits doctors, and patients, to ‘believe’ the results are ‘more specific.’ But are they?

The paper reveals that when the results were still not convincing – they altered the nature of the genetic test, to get results that matched the World Health Organization decree, that a Bird Flu Pandemic was raging. If they had not, they’d be stuck with a number of patients killed by excessive and toxic drugging in hospital, as happens every day, in every part of the world.

And so, P.C.R. to the rescue: “The H5b primer pair yielded positive RT-PCR results in all six patients tested in this small series, as compared with positive results in four of six with the use of the H5-1 and H5-2 primers on the same samples.”

In other words, they got some “positive” results, so could sell this as “Bird Flu.” But there were problems  – some patients were not positive where they should have been. And it only got worse:

“The N1 primers used resulted in nonspecific RT-PCR products and required modification to yield specific results.”

What does that bit of double-speak mean? In plain language, it means the following: ‘We got results that we did not expect, and so we ‘modified’ the test to get ‘specific’ (ie, what we needed to get to sell it) results.’ But these technicians weren’t fools. They note, with alarm, that these tests do not work, and are not diagnosing anything specific, and they say so in the next line – a plea for ‘better tests’:

“Further evaluation of the two H5 primer systems is being undertaken. The sensitivity of the RT-PCR methods, which were designed for the identification of influenza A (H5N1) virus from culture, is unknown, and we urgently need new, properly evaluated, sensitive diagnostic tests.”

“We urgently need new, properly evaluated, sensitive diagnostic tests.” This is what appears in the fine print of a paper called: “Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in 10 Patients in Vietnam,” which claims to report “10 patients with confirmed cases of avian influenza A (H5N1) who presented to hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2003 and January 2004.” And, “In all 10 cases, the diagnosis of influenza A (H5N1) was confirmed by means of viral culture or reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for H5 and N1.”

And at the bottom, out of sight: “We urgently need new, properly evaluated, sensitive diagnostic tests.”

It must be noted that the paper detailing the illness and drugging in two cities Vietnam has over twenty (what appear to be) Vietnamese authors [doctors]. This is a messy bunch of data to wrangle, coming from separate cases in different hospitals.

What brought it all together? In the credits we see that it was overseen, and compiled by “The World Health Organization International Avian Influenza Investigative Team.”

In sum, they created out of scraps the picture they were hoping to assemble, and sell to the world public.

What does all this add up to – Bird Flu, or Bird Flu Fever? A bad cold, or bad medicine? Whatever it is, it’s certainly business as usual for the World Health Organization, and for the major media, who don’t, can’t or won’t, ask questions of the medical authorities.


1 Hazard in Hunt for New Flu The New York Times November 8, 2005.

2 ”Influenza: old and new threats”. Palese, P. Nature Medicine Supplement, December 2004 (v10;n12)

3 “Fatal Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in a Child Presenting with Diarrhea Followed by Coma”. February 17, 2005; ; Volume 352:686-691, Number 7.

4 Drugs given:acetaminophen (tylenol), ceftriaxone and ceftazidime ( beta-lactam antibiotics), amikacin and gentamicin (aminoglycoside antibiotics), phenobarbital (barbituate/sedative/hypnotic) and mannitol (sugar)

5 “Adverse reaction to amoxicillin: a case report”. da Fonseca; American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Sep-Oct 2000; 22(5):401-4, 209.

6 Adverse Reactions to Antibiotics: Clues for Recognizing, Understanding, and Avoiding them Gleckman, R., MD; Borrego, F.,MD; Postgraduate Medicine, April 1997,v.101, n.4.

Testing for allergic reactions to antibiotics, from “Adverse Reactions to Antibiotics:

The most reliable way to assess a patient’s risk for a type I IgE-mediated reaction is to measure the skin test response to the “major” and “minor” penicillin determinants. Unfortunately, only the major skin testing determinant (benzylpenicilloyl-polylysine [Pre-Pen]) is commercially available. Testing with major determinant alone would fail to identify a significant number of patients at risk for serious allergic reactions.

Therefore, unless the patient is at a research center where minor determinant can be prepared, the clinician must try to decipher the patient’s drug allergy history, even though such histories are often vague or unreliable.

7 Self-reported drug allergy in a general adult Portuguese population. Gomes, et al. Clinical Experimental Allergy. October 2004;34(10):1597-601.

8Gastro-intestinal side effects including diahrroea, nausea and vomiting may occur quite frequently. Pseudomembranous colitis has also been reported.Super-infection is relatively common. Doses should be reduced in severe renal failure.” ( Amoxicillin package insert 2002, Malahyde Information Systems).

“Virtually all antibiotics have been associated with C difficile [bacteria]-related diarrhea and colitis; ampicillin, clindamycin (Cleocin), and the cephalosporins are most commonly implicated.”(Postgraduate Medicine4)

9 WideAngle – H5N1 PBS, September 2005

10 Science; January 16, 1998; Vol 279, Issue 5349, 393-396

11 NEJM, March 18, 2004; V.350:1179-1188; N.12

12Avian Influenza A (H5N1) in 10 Patients in Vietnam“. March 18, 2004; NEJM Volume 350:1179-1188, Number 12.

13 Tamiflu – PDF, “Dear Doctor” Letter, and Information

14 Anthony Fauci, Corticosteroid Paper: Fauci, A.S., Dale, D.C., and Balow, J.E. (1976). Glucocorticosteroid therapy: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Considerations. Annals of Internal Medicine 84: 304-15

[bold and italics added throughout by author for emphasis]

Thanks to Jon Rappoport’s “No More Fake News”: for picking up the Kolata NY Times story first, to Dr. A. Maniotis of U. Illinois for research support and assistance, and to Michael Kane of for his much valued help and encouragement.

23 thoughts on “The Bird Flu Breakdown: Two Children in Vietnam

  1. excellent research, liam, as always. just wished you’d published this prior to us purchasing that fancy dancy freezer chest…food to survive the quarantine, you know…

  2. “But no, say the health authorities. Just because it doesn’t look like influenza, doesn’t mean we can’t call it bird flu:”

    Ah, I see. So if it doesn’t look like a duck, and it doesn’t quack like a duck, chances are that some people will still call it a duck.

    To me, one of the most striking sentences in Liam’s comments is:

    “Because only his sample remained when the WHO came to town, nine months later, scavenging for potential flu cases.”

    There are many words in the English language that could have been used here, but Liam found the only one that fully describes the WHO’s activities: “scavenging” (!) Yes, yes, the WHO really went to town… Seek and ye shall find. Especially if you look for something as ill-defined as bird flu in every location you can think of, over a long time period, you’re absolutely certain to find it with 20/20 hindsight.

    Antibiotics are abused even more than most street drugs. Some years ago, I talked to an older colleague who had been an army physician during WWII. He told me that, in the early days of penicillin, very minute quantities of this first antibiotic effectively knocked out ghonorrhea or syphilis. Very beneficial for young military men who like to sample the local talent (Boys will be boys). But these days massive doses are used, and some bacteria have developed resistant strains.

    Even worse is the fact that antibiotics are also commonly used in cases where they are uncalled for. Ear infections are treated with otic solutions containing an antibiotic. If it’s a bacterial infection, the ear drops will help. If the infection is viral, it will go away all by itself, but then it looks as if the ear drops have done the trick. And who’s to know?

    The same thing happens with pneumonia. Nobody even bothers to check what kind it is. They first try antibiotics – several kinds. But if there’s no improvement, a dangerous situation may result. The pneumonia may be caused by a fungus, and in this case not only valuable time is wasted that should have been used for the correct treatment, but the patient’s condition may also be seriously weakened by the antibiotics.

    Even when you have a light thrombosis in one of your legs, most physicians “treat” it with antibiotics. Only after they see that it doesn’t work, they start to think of anti-coagulants.

    There are even oversexed but underinformed people who use antibiotics as… prophylaxis (!) , thinking they will shield them from sexually transmitted diseases. This practice is downright suicidal, and too many people paid for it with their lives.

    Summarizing: If you want to be famous, invent a new disease and join the WHO. Whatever the nature of “your” disease, look for it where there are many people with fever and diarrhea. I can guarantee you’ll find your disease there.

  3. I live in Austria and actually remember this report about the cats. It was all over tv, radio and newspapers here. The story was: “… after all, cats can be infected with the virus, … bla, bla… Don’t let your cats outside and be SCARED”! Then, the next day, they reported that the three cats were retested and the results were negative. Their conclusion was that the cats rejected the virus!!! LOL!
    Nice blog Liam. Keep up the good work!

  4. What do you make of the latest “cluster” in Indonesia? All cases appear to have caught something (presumably from each other). Additionally it has been stated that they infact did have “severe” pneumonia.

  5. What do you make of the recent cluster of “bird flu” cases in North Sumatra? They apparently presented themselves with severe lower respiratory infections and 7 of the 8 ended up dying. Whatever they had appears to have been passed between them….

  6. Hi tatown,

    Do you have a paper (medical journal) on this? I’d like to have a good look.

    Truth is, I don’t look at ‘clusters’ the way the WHO does.

    ie. if a poor family in a rural, agrarian country gets sick, or some members of the family get sick, I’d like to know about their access to:

    water, food, basic medical supplies, money, rest, etc..

    before I conclude that one thing is responsible.

    I’d also like to know when the diagnosis ‘birdflu’ was made. A priori or posteriori? And how, what tests, what circumstances?

    Once slightly ill, or hospitalized, how were they medicated? What was the course of events?

    Can I ask, if you have a paper on it, to post it here?

    I will follow up.

    Edim thanks for the nice words. Also, do you have a citation for that – the cats being re-diagnosed? Post it here!

    Wilhelm – love the comments!

    Tropobunny – what are you putting in that freezer?

    and thanks jspreen.


  7. I’ve heard it on the radio, about the cats rejecting the virus. I also remember they said the scientists were looking further into it to find out how cats do it, how they “fight off the virus”, in order to learn how humans could be helped fight it off too. I couldn’t help but LOL!

    Here are some of the links that I just googled:,,2-10-1959_1893288,00.html

    There are many more, basically the same report.

  8. Liam,
    I don’t have a medical paper on the North Sumatra cases. The only thing I’ve read has been media reports. Because the cases have drawn so much media attention over the past couple of weeks (due to possible human to human to human infection), I though maybe you’d have some reaction to what’s been reported.

    Thanks for your investigative journalism. It is refreshing to read reports from someone that actually demonstrates some critical thinking.

  9. Hi tatown,

    I’ve got more coming on this issue, so I’ll search it out and have a look.

    In the mean time, you can download a couple of the news stories and post the links, if you’re so motivated (and want to save me work!).

    Or not.

    Thanks for the comments – and what’s ‘tatown,’ if I can ask?

    hasta luego,


  10. Pingback: New AIDS Review
  11. Liam has proved that what we are being told about bird flu is fraudulent; and this is just part 1.

    For me I am now fixated on motive: why?

    Why do they need this bird flu scare? Money? Of course, no question – there is always money involved in moves of the global elite. That’s a given.

    Here is something I wrote for FTW that has never been published on bird flu:

    [Bird flu needs to be viewed within the context of the political reality it has created: Asian countries are being coerced into accepting Western factory farming techniques after culling millions of their chickens; President Bush has allocated $3.8 billion for bird flu drugs and vaccines; Donald Rumsfeld is profiting from Tamiflu even though it shows no signs of being an effective treatment for avian flu; and raising chickens in your backyard, an excellent way to re-localize food security in the face of Peak, will likely be illegal in the near future.

    On every level – foreign and domestic – this is economic warfare.

    It is also important to note that the Department of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security have a joint national response plan ready for implementation if a pandemic of bird flu is declared in the United States that could include mandatory quarantines. DoD has already stockpiled 2.7 million doses of H5N1 avian influenza vaccine. This vaccine is brand new and it is impossible that its safety and efficacy could have been determined so quickly. Now the U.S. government is aiming to have 600 million flu vaccine doses available within 6 months of a pandemic.

    Are we really being told by Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt in the below report to stockpile canned goods and powdered milk because of a virus that has never been isolated by basic laboratory techniques and is alleged to have killed less than 100 people in the past 8 years? Might there be another reason to prepare for food and resource scarcity?

    Could it be Peak Oil? Sorry for asking a stupid question.

    There is much moving under the carpet of the putative H5N1. If there were no hidden agendas at play this virus would have been properly isolated months ago. Instead, the only technique used to allegedly isolate the virus has been PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which was invented by Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis who maintains that his invention cannot be used to isolate a virus.
    Does anything seem fishy about that? – MK]


    Ready or Not, Bird Flu Is Coming to America
    Officials Advise Stocking Up on Provisions — and Warn That Infected Birds Cannot Be Prevented From Flying In


    Vaccine manufacturers in $1bn bird flu bonanza
    By Gregory Roumeliotis

    08/05/2006- The US government has awarded five-year contracts totaling $1bn (€780m) to five drug companies to develop and produce cell-based vaccines to fight influenza, in preparation for a possible bird flu pandemic.


    White House Report Outlines Roles in Flu Pandemic Response
    By Donna Miles
    American Forces Press Service

  12. There now, Liam! If you keep insisting on doing things right when an epidemiological study is undertaken, you’re going against the trend 🙂

    If there are a dozen variables that can influence the result of an experiment, you want to keep 11 of them constant, allowing only one to vary. Yes, that’s the right way to do it. But that’s not the way it’s done anymore in our modern sloppy times.

    The only way to get exactly the results you want is to look only at the parameter that’s at the top of your political agenda. You ignore all the other possible factors, even if they may vary widely. Finally, you pick the cohort that shows the results you wanted before even planning the study, and call it cluster…

    That’s how everybody does it these days. But you are stubborn: you want it done the solid scientific way. That’s no way to be. If you go on that way, no university will give you a Ph.D. in epidemiology! 🙂

    I hope the people who read this recognize sarcasm when they see it.


  13. The following is typical of the failure of medical technology to recognize that the quality of the medium is everything… as Pasteur said on his death bed “The soil is everything.” – CW

    Another Antibiotic Bites the Dust

    Tequin Tequin, an antibiotic which can cause serious blood sugar complications, is being pulled from the market by manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb.

    Increased Warnings

    In February of this year, the U.S. FDA required increased warnings on the label of the drug. It is most dangerous to diabetics, the elderly, and those with kidney disease.

    A Recall Urged

    However, while Bristol-Myers Squibb will stop making and selling the drug, currently available stocks will not be recalled.

    There have been 20 deaths and over 150 hospitalizations associated with Tequin since January 2000. The public interest group Public Citizen has petitioned for the drug to be completely recalled from the market.

    MSNBC May 1, 2006

  14. Great piece, Liam.

    This bird-brain flu is easily one of the dumbest “scare” campaigns ever. No, I ain’t worried about getting the flu from Tweety Bird.

    But, it certainly is lucrative to Big Pharma:

    From AP 5/14/06: “Feds award $1 billion to vaccine makers”

    The federal government on Thursday awarded more than $1 Billion to five drug manufacturers that are developing technology for speedier mass production of vaccines in case of pandemic.

    …The companies are GlaxoSmithKline, $274.8 million; MedImmune, Inc. $169.5 million; Novartis Vaccines, $220.5 million; Dynport Vaccine, $41 million, and Solvay Pharmaceutical Inc., $298.6 million.

    Thatsa lotta shekels!!!

    Hank B

  15. Many thanks yet again Liam.

    I think it is comforting for us to think that bird flu is a conspiracy of agribusiness and big pharma, perhaps aided by a corporate power elite eager to cover up peak oil but nonetheless prepare for it. (Although given the current difference in prices between the barrel and pump, surely this would be a good time to announce it to cover up the artificial inflation of gas prices.) If we can at some level identify conspirators (the equivalents to the stooges who lied about Iraq WMDs) then humans in general get off the hook for their profound stupidity. If there are no conspirators we have to blame sloppy scientists, doctors, journalists, health bureaucrats and politicians, and we may be forced to look at how a similar combination of errors have created previous scares like SARS, mad cow and “HIV?AIDS.”

    Few in North America seem to recall SARS these days which may be due to the fact it miraculously spared the US despite closing down Toronto. No media seems to wonder why one published study claimed to have isolated a virus which met Koch’s postulates while today scientists are studying a bacteria that causes SARS. No one followed up on the report from Canadian health officials that fewer and fewer SARS patients were testing positive to the claimed infectious agent, or that doctors in Hong Kong were themselves complaining about the dangerous side effects of ribavirin — the tamiflu of SARS. Was it a conspiracy or just plain stupidity driven by technological fundamentalism and a mainstream media that merely repeats press releases?

    Also nobody talks about the BST or mad cow contradictions. Why exactly is it that so many cases are happening after bans on feeding cattle to cattle? Are there really so many cows breaking out of their stalls to get at the pig feed which contains cattle bone meal? Were these cows even on mixed farms were they could fill their cannibal tastes? Where exactly is the evidence that these cows consumed the wrong feed besides the media reports assuming this must be the case? And what of those elk with their own version of BST? Are these cannibal elk? And how exactly do elk manage to eat the brains of their peers? Same question goes for the mad yaks. And why is that people have long been eating the brains and meat of scrapies infected sheep to no ill effect, yet supposedly a hamburger from an “infected” cow could kill you? And further, why does the media never report on the published studies which question whether the mad prion is even transmissible? After all these years why no evidence that is transmissible through feed? Why no reports on mineral imbalances and organophosphates as a cause of mad cow disease when there is evidence supporting these theories? Is this an agribusiness and chemical corporation conspiracy or just that an infectious prion makes for more sensationalist headlines and allows for business as usual — ie humans not taking responsibility for their fuck ups but rather addressing it through the sacrificial rites of killing animals (the cull).

    And then of course there is “HIV?AIDS,” a story of iatrogenocide and 25 years of the worst science, medicine and journalism imaginable. Again it would be nice to blame one big conspiracy and not face up to just how stupid we
    humans are.

    Obviously bird flu is being used to forward corporatist agendas, be they that of corporate agribusiness or big pharma, otherwise the culls would be happening among the caged hens in North America and not the poor of East Asia. Of course the caged hens die so quickly anyways it is not as if they have much time to even get a flu. It would also be used to promote organics rather than making organics impossible by promoting the stupid idea birds should not be allowed outside. If big pharma was not playing this for everything, we would simply be told to stock up on vitamin A and C, and learn to relax.

  16. Oops, I meant BSE not BST which is the hormone created by Monsanto which causes cows to produce more milk but die early after short unhealthy lives. As of yet Canada has not approved BST but the health officials who stopped its approval were fired for their efforts.

  17. Michael, just for the record, I’ve been pointing out the obvious utility of “bird flu” to corporate agribusiness for several years in posts on Aids Myth Exposed and also in my article “Politically Motivated Disease Causation.”

    Backyard chicken farming is ubiquitous in the Third World, and indeed, the powers that be are using “bird flu” as a pretext to make it illegal. The idea is to keep people from being self sufficient and to make them dependent on corporations for survival.

    That’s what “economic development” is really all about. Get self-sufficient people who live simply and naturally hooked on petroleum, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, in the process enslaving them to multinational corporations. This is happening now at a breakneck pace throughout SE Asia. Go into some small village in Cambodia and you’ll find swarms of motorbikes and drug stores on every street.

    I will take this opportunity to predict that the near future will bring “deadly pandemics” of vegetable viruses that will necessitate governments making it illegal to grow your own vegetables. Then “brilliant and dedicated” scientists will come up with genetically modified versions of the plants that will be immune to the viruses, and be hailed as “Persons of the Year” by Time Magazine and geniuses by the NY Times and all the others. Royalties will have to be paid every year in order to grow the miraculous new plants. Poor subsistence farmers won’t be able to afford these royalties, but ag corporations will.

    The UN and its agencies have been tremendously corporatized over the last decade. Corporations now fund the WHO to a very large percent of its budget, and I think the same is true of FAO. In addition, of course, there doubtless is a perpetual revolving door between the scientists who work for the WHO and UNAIDS and other agencies, and Big Pharma or Big Pharma-funded academia.

    This is a subject that is begging for some good investigative journalism, by the way. It should be easy to research the employees of WHO and find out who they worked for before and after WHO, how much money they make/made, what deals they have that allow them to serve two masters simultaneously (as is the case with the CDC and other US agencies)

    Many of them are politicians turned “public health officials” who have doubtless gotten “campaign contributions” from Pharma in the past. I
    predict you would find that 95% of WHO scientists and officials have conflicts of interest up the wazoo.

    Also one can publicize the very long list of Pharma, Chemical, AgBiz and other corporations that are providing the WHO’s budget. One doesn’t bite the hand that feeds one, and corporate funding inevitably makes the funded organization a virtual subsidiary of the funder for policy purposes.

    I would do this research myself if I had time and weren’t so discouraged by the impossibility of getting true investigative journalism that indicts the Establishment published in any well-read journal. But maybe one of you doesn’t have that problem, and can run with this. We desperately need an expose of the Public Health Mafia. Even if it’s just on the web, that is something we could refer people to in order to put bs like “bird flu” in perspective.

  18. Hi Marcel,

    very good comments, thanks for posting.

    I will take this opportunity to predict that the near future will bring “deadly pandemics” of vegetable viruses that will necessitate governments making it illegal to grow your own vegetables…

    That’s about as good a prediction as I’ve ever heard. Any stock tips while we’re at it? How about Archer-Daniels Midland? How about Monsanto? I think they might have the get-up-and-go to save us from the deadly wild vegetable virus pandemic, sure to blaze through the world at any time….

    What is it that happens in science at a certain point? It’s like the scale always tips towards a feverish self-anihilating paroxysm when the de rigueur science becomes too entrenched, too artificial, too removed…

    Like we’re always thumbing our way back to eugenics, and ‘quality control’ and, well, frankly, a very violent sort of tribalism, but we dress it better and better, in more convincing garb. Like HIV tests, for example, or manipulative pandemic scare-mongering.

    Is it just the beast, is it just our nature? Quien sabe? Quizas.

  19. I think it’s just gardem variety corruption, Liam. Medical science is corruption incarnate, and intimately tied in with capitalism, social control and religion.

    I also have often wondered if medical research attracts sadists. THere was a lady in the UK some years ago who felt that vivisection blunted medical researchers’ (or doctors’) “emotional sensitivity.” That is a theory well worth thinking about, but I also wonder if there are sadistic little boys and girls who go into medical research simply because they LIKE torturing animals. Such people would be insensitive and easily corrupted, and could be expected to be insensitive to people, too, as Aids researchers and public health officials plainly are, as they routinely kill millions.

  20. Several of these remarks make me think of a quote from the first chapter of my e-book “The Moronic Majority”

    “Remember: It’s not that those government agencies are so smart in repressing you and ripping you off, but you are so dumb! And don’t forget: You heard it here first.”

    Yes, just like the mainstream press, scientists are eager to comply with the “official” guidelines now. Doing biomedical research is expensive. There used to be times when you could construct your own microscope, and make a valid contribution to science in the attic of your home, or in the basement. These days, setting up a research lab takes millions. So the corporate and governmental granting institutions “own” the scientists.
    Yet, just as there are independent journalists and movie-makers, I hope that, before long, a new breed of independent scientists will rise up, and bring back some of the glory and excitement of real science. Maybe a cooperative would be a solution.

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