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USA Influenza Activity 2003-2004

First time visitors to these pages may want to
review the following articles before proceeding.

Influenza From Space?
Life on Venus may be microbe clouds

Flu-Watch Zip Code Locations 2003-2004
One Year Ago | Peak 2002-2003 | Peak 2003-2004 | Archive (Weekly)
Source: FluWatch.com [Site now serves a different function.]

Installed - 07 Sep 2003 - Latest text/format update 12 Apr 2016. New material is in bold.
See fw-miss.xls for an extract from the data file used
in processing FluWatch.com information on this page.

The map above shows red dots placed at the approximate centers of counties/parishes listed as active on FluWatch.com. For large counties/parishes, the dots are placed according to their zip code locations as determined from MapQuest.com®. Display of the FluWatch.com active areas does not imply that influenza is absent in other places. For example, here is a limited list of links to flu information for selected USA states and other influenza information sites.

Most of these links have been re-purposed or the sites are no longer active.

Arizona - Canada FluWatch - Illinois - Maryland - North Dakota - Oklahoma
Oregon - U.S.A. CDC - U.S.A. FluSTAR™ - West Virginia - Washington

* * *

The ZymeTx, Inc. ZstatFlu™ rapid influenza test, used by physicians of the National Flu Surveillance Network™ in the production of daily FluWatch reports, responds to both Influenza A and Influenza B. FluWatch.com uses the following levels of influenza activity in a given area.
  Watch: Positive flu results have been reported.
  Alert: Positive flu results are being reported as consistently as every other day in moderate numbers.
  Warning: Positive flu results are being reported consistently on a daily basis in high numbers.
  Epidemic: Flu is widespread in the area.

Here is a seasonal histogram of FluWatch.com daily activity levels for the USA. (The height of each daily column corresponds to the sum of the totals for all four activity levels for the day.) See the comparable histogram for North Dakota. [Link needs update. 12 Jun 2013.]

Just below the flu activity plot is a diagram showing solar-wind proton-density, (preliminary data) as measured by the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft. Time-scales of the graphs are matched. [Added 10 Nov 2003. Updated periodically.]

2003-2004 Daily USA Activity Summaries H-EPAM
Source: ACE Science Center Cal Tech.
USA FluWatch.com Activity, Summers of 2002, 2003, and 2004
USA FluWatch.com Activity, September 2001 thru the end of 2004

I speculate that the extremely high surge in solar wind activity, which started on October 21, 2003, may bear a causal relation to the late-October / early-November surges in influenza activity in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States and in two Rocky Mountain states in Canada. See Part 2. If so, two possibilities seem to exist. Either solar wind protons and heavier positive ions (which are deflected much less by Earth's magnetic field than are solar wind electrons) created a down-draft that drove circulating airborne viruses to the earth's surface, or what the author calls the Kite-Acheson effect(1) (which is an electrical lifting mechanism of particulate matter produced by solar wind induced electrical charge buildup on a planet's surface) caused some of last year's flu bugs to rise (fog-like) from the ground and to attack in a second wave fashion. (I am inclined toward the second possibility.) [Added 10 Nov 2003. Modified 11-17 Nov 2003 and on 24 Sep 2005.]

Postscript: The 21 Oct - 4 Nov Southern California fires were driven by westward moving Santa Anna winds which are generally characterized as being high in positive ion content. Second speculation: The increased solar wind activity, mentioned above, may have been a contributing factor in those tragedies. [Added 10 Nov 2003. Revised 22 Nov 2003.]

The speculation about a connection between heightened solar wind activity and the onset of influenza-like illnesses could turn out to be a matter of false cause. The timing may be coincidental or there may be some other connection. One possiblity of a different connection would be that solar-wind-driven electromagnetic disturbances in the Earth's biosphere might produce adverse affects on biological immune systems, leading to disease outbreaks. See ref (2) for one viewpoint on this. [Added 08 Dec 2003.]

See the Part 2 18 December 2003 entry, which deals with a third possibility for a space weather (i.e. comet tail delivery of pathogens) connection to the early season USA and Canada Flu outbreak, and especially to the avian influenza problems which began in November 2003 in eastern Asia. See Brig Klyce's Cosmic Ancestry page titled Influenza From Space?(3) where Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe carry on a dialog with critics about comet tail delivery systems for extraterrestrial biological visitors. [Added 26 Jan 2004.] See the 29 January entry in Part 2.

USA Influenza Activity 2003-2004, Part 2b

* * *

The following table shows: (I) the dates of Venus inferior conjunctions which preceded 20th century influenza Pandemics and Pandemic Scares (P&PS). (II) onset dates for the disease outbreaks and (III) the intervals (in days) between conjunctions and event onsets. These intervals are converted to decimal fractions of the 584 day Earth-Venus synodic period and are displayed in the histogram on the right, in which the width of each bin is 1/20th of the synodic period (29.2 days per bin). The 1988 limited outbreaks of Influenza A(H1N2), in China, the 2001 Global outbreak of Influenza A(H1N2) and the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak have been added. See: Sunspot Activity, Venus Inferior Conjunctions, and Biological Events for further information on the 20th century events.]


*Some scholars report that the 1957 Asian flu was "making the rounds" in Vladivostok in December of 1956. Its earliest outbreak date and location are currently unknown to this writer.

In 1999 West Nile Virus (WNV) appeared on the North American continent one month after a major solar wind disruption, which occurred on May 10-12. See West Nile Virus for more details.

# According to a CDC report (4) (no longer available) the Influenza A(H1N2) strain was first found in India on May 31, 2001. Earliest identification had been listed on this page as Texas, USA in July 2001. [Added 1 June 2004.]

Flu Season Forecast for 2003-2004
07 Sep 2003

The influenza strains that will be encountered this flu season should be directly related to the strains that were in circulation around the globe last year. Venus is scheduled to make its next inferior conjunction on June 8, 2004 so, barring any unforeseen Earth-comet tail encounter, there should be no new exobiological visitors (viral or bacterial) dropping in on the Earth during the northern hemisphere's normal flu season.

A special note, however, for June 2004. Venus will transit the sun (it's image will be able to be seen crossing the solar disk) on June 8. The proximity of Venus to the ecliptic may lead to an early delivery of new influenza strains, or influenza-like viruses. Two peaks of "drop in" activity might occur. With quiet sun, the first peak could occur as early as 2-3 weeks prior to June 8, and the latter peak 1-2 weeks following June 8. If there happens to be a high speed solar coronal mass ejection (CME) that reaches Venus on about June 8, there could be a special delivery to Earth's upper atmosphere one half to one day later.

May 15 through June 30 would be prime time to be doing upper atmospheric or near-Earth collections for possible biological visitors. Donald Barber made such recommendations in 1963. (5)

09 Sep 2003
In the 2003-2004 influenza season prediction above, reference is made to the strains that were in circulation around the globe last year. Those strains appear to have included a number flu-like illnesses of undiagnosed cause/origin. This researcher's gut feeling says that some of these non influenza A or B illnesses may become more widespread (and in competition with strains A and B). We should not be surprised if the 2003-2004 flu season turns out to the lowest on record in recent years for the presence of A and B.

See Influenza 1918, A Venus Connection? for the rationale behind the comments above.


Updated Forecast 14-15 Nov 2003

The highly active solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that impacted Earth in the 22 Oct - 9 Nov timeframe, coupled with the atypically high level of influenza activity which began about a week after the first CME impact (see the graphs in Part 1), have prompted this update. The author speculates that there is a causal (but indirect) relation between the CMEs and the unusual surge in flu activity. See The Kite-Acheson Effect.

The author re-affirms his 09 Sep gut feeling statement, "We should not be surprised if the 2003-2004 flu season turns out to the lowest on record in recent years for the presence of A and B." The present atypical high level of flu activity should taper off by mid December and the FluWatch.com seasonal peak should still end up below those for the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons. Further solar CMEs which impact Earth during this flu season should not trigger any substantial new influenza outbreaks.

Here is a predicted flu activity diagram for the remainder of the 2003-2004 season. The lighter grey area represents the author's "gut feeling" as to the limits for the actual upcoming activity levels. The 2003-2004 activity plot will be updated throughout the season.

Predicted Flu Activity Curve
Predicted and Actual Flu Activity Levels for Remainder of 2003-2004 Flu Season
Alternate Title - "Where's my saw?!"

Tree Limb
Analysis of updated Forecast
[Added 18 March 2004.]

See Venus Transit, Biohazard? for a histogram continuing into the summer of 2004. [Added 24 June 2004.]

Global Developments, 2003-2004 Flu Season

Thur 18 Sep 2003, India
Panic spreads in Indian state on fatal mystery disease

Panic is spreading in India's northern Himachal Pradesh state after the deaths of 10 people from a mystery disease. Doctors in the state's capital Shimla say the condition of several other patients is also critical. Most of the patients who were admitted to hospital complained of high fever and severe headaches. While doctors have yet to diagnose the disease, relatives of those affected are fearing the return of a killer plague. ...
Source: Channel News Asia 18 Sep 2003 1209 hrs (SST) 0409 hrs (GMT) [edited].
Copied from ProMED Digest Vol. 2003 : No. 375.
[Similar, as yet undiagnosed, outbreaks apparently also occurred in the 2002-2003 time frame.]

To subscribe to ProMED Digest, send a message to majordomo@promedmail.org and type "subscribe promed-digest" in the message body.

Thur 18 Sep 2003, New Jersey USA
Man's death man be linked to [West Nile ] virus [Paraphrased extracts]

A man who had been hospitalized three times over the summer for numerous medical problems died on August 13. At the time of his death the cause of death was listed at pneumonia, however on August 29th the New Jersey state Public Health and Environmental Laboratories found evidence of West Nile virus (WNV) in his blood. On Tuesday, 17 September, the CDC confirmed the WNV finding. The blood tests had been taken because the man was suffering fever and mental confusion. (In many cases a West Nile virus infection presents symptoms resembling a mild case of influenza.)
Source:Burlington County Times - Brian Scheid, Staff Writer
Article is no longer on line. [16 Nov 2011]

USA Influenza Activity 2003-2004, Part 2c

Mon 22 Sep 2003, India
NCID Probes Himachal's mysterious fever

A high-level team of doctors from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NCID) and Institute of Virology, Pune is visiting Himachal Pradesh to try and identify a mystery disease which has killed 10 people and caused serious illness to at least 60 people. - - - "The symptoms can't be categorized. That's why we are calling it fever or pyrexia of an unknown origin or a mysterious disease," said Dr. Avdhesh Kumar, a member of the NCID team. - - - The disease has been recurring over the past three years during the monsoon season. While several people have succumbed to this disease, so far doctors have not been able to find a diagnosis. - - - Its symptoms include high-grade fever, acute body ache, and headache. A patient becomes unconscious before eventually succumbing to multiple organ failure.
Source: ProMED Digest - Mon 22 Sep 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 378

Tue 23 Sep 2003, Peru
Hepatitis Threatens to Wipe Out Two Amazon Tribes

The United Nations (UNICEF) says that it has launched a vaccination campaign to save two tribes in the remote Peruvian Amazon from a mysterious hepatitis B outbreak. - - - The outbreak, which apparently began in 2001, resulted in 145 cases that year, in a population of about 2,500. (Number of deaths in 2001 not known.) After 40 deaths were reported in 2002, Peru's Minister of Health asked UNICEF for help. - - - The cause of the outbreak remains a mystery as does the reason for the "amazingly" high mortality rate in a disease that often takes 20 to 25 years to manifest itself.
Source: Reuters: Health News Tue 23 Sep 2003 03:38 PM ET [Edited.]

Sun 28 Sep 2003, Denmark
New Influenza A Virus, H5N7, Identified in Ducks

[This account has been reworded for emphasis. RSF] A new influenza A virus type H5N7 has been identified for the first time in ducks in Denmark. Two different viruses were implicated in the illnesses of 12,000 ducks being raised to be released for hunting. A Duck Virus Enteritis (DVE)* seems to have been the primary cause of the avian illnesses but a new Influenza A(H5N7) was also isolated from tissues from several of the ducks. This type has never been previously identified.

*According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Duck Virus Enteritis, also known as Duck Plague, is a highly contagious disease of waterfowl caused by a herpes virus that causes internal bleeding and severe diarrhea and kills many infected birds.

Even though all 12,000 of the ducks were exterminated on 10 Sep 2003, the new A(H5N7) virus does NOT appear to be of the "highly pathogenic" type, nor has it been detected in humans, especially among people who had contact with the ducks. Further analysis is being carried out.

Source: ProMED Digest - Sun 28 Sep 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 386

[At this point, no indication has been given as to how long the new virus may have been present in the duck population before it was detected. RSF]

Thur 09 Oct 2003
Hemorrhagic Fever With Renal Syndrome - France (NE)

In total 104 cases of hantavirus infection [i.e. resulting in hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome or HFRS, the type of illness associated with hantavirus infection in Northern Europe] have been reported by the Centre National de Reference (CNR) de Fievres Hemorragiques Virales (the National Reference Centre for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers) during the period fro the end of December 2002 to the end of August 2003.

This number is higher than the number of cases for the preceding 3 years; during the whole of 2002 only 61 cases of infection were observed.

Fri 24 Oct 2003
Influenza, Early Case - USA, Arizona

A confirmed case of influenza in Tucson is the 1st in Arizona, and the earliest influenza seen here [in Pima County] in more than 15 years, say county health officials. Whether that means we're in for an especially bad influenza season -- after 2 very mild years -- is unknown. But warnings of a potentially severe outbreak nationwide have been issued, based on high influenza case numbers seen elsewhere in the world this summer. . . . Although Arizona's first influenza report will not get as much attention as its 1st reported human West Nile virus infection -- also in a Pima County resident this month -- influenza is far more dangerous, officials warn.
Source: ProMED Digest - Thur 23 Oct 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 413

[At the present time there seems to be an unusual clustering of counties in Texas and Louisiana that are listed as active by FluWatch.com. (See Map.) In Texas, five of the nine active zip codes are new in the sense that they were not listed as being active at anytime during the past two flu seasons. Yesterday Louisiana was elevated from Alert to Endemic status. Although Florida is currently inactive on FluWatch.com, a zip code in its Orange County was listed as being in a watch status from 25 Sep to 21 Oct. New Mexico was last active on FluWatch.com back in December of 2000 If New Mexico hits the active list in the next 1-2 weeks, then one might have reason to suspect that something out of the ordinary is happening in the southernmost states of the USA. RSF 24 Oct 2003.]


Wed 29 Oct 2003
Influenza - Canada (West)

The influenza season has hit Canada early, clogging emergency rooms in Edmonton [Alberta] and prompting calls from health officials across the country for people to get immunized as soon as possible." We've had 60 lab cases confirmed, but that's the tip of the iceberg. We've probably had thousands of people affected," said Gerry Predy, medical health officer for Capital Health, which serves 1.6 million people in the Edmonton region. . . .

The influenza season normally occurs between November and March, with peaks in late December and again in late February. But it emerged in some parts of Canada and the U.S. weeks ago, long before influenza vaccination clinics became active. . . .

[See the 25 Oct 2003 Canada Seasonal Influenza Summary.]

Influenza A(H3N2) virus infection occurred in 2 schools in Dublin, Ireland during October 2003. This cluster of cases is considered to be the earliest outbreak of influenza in Europe this season.

In the southern hemisphere during August 2003 all states in Australia (except Northern Territory) have reported extensive outbreaks of influenza. These have been identified as due to A(H3) type virus. High levels of influenza A(H3) were recorded in New Zealand throughout June and July 2003, declining during August. The levels of influenza in New Zealand in 2003 have exceeded those observed in 2001 [and in] 2002.

[2001 was a tough influenza year for New Zealand. See Global Developments: Spring-Summer 2001, Part II. To this writer's knowledge, this is the first report (on ProMED Digest) about influenza in New Zealand in 2003. RSF]

Source: ProMED Digest - Wed 29 Oct 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 419

Mon 03 Nov 2003
Influenza - USA, Southern States

On Saturday 01 Nov, FluWatch.com reported New Mexico as being in a watch status. (Activity in the Albuquerque area.) The timing of this event meets the author's 24 October 2003 criteria of 1-2 weeks to be on a special lookout for activity in New Mexico. (See above.) Add to this, the cluster of four new active counties in western Arkansas on the same date (01 Nov). Something unusual (flu-wise) may be happening in the US southern states.

See the animated gif showing FluWatch.com activity for 15 Oct to 03 Nov 2003. To come back to this page click on BACK. The RETURN function at the bottom of the animation will take you to Part I of this page.

Mon 17 Nov 2003
China (Hong Kong): Students Affected by Gastroenteritis Outbreak

Following an [outbreak of an] intestinal virus infection that spread to 150 students at Sacred Heart Canossian College, another group of pupils have come down with gastroenteritis. Last Friday [14 Nov] 14 students, aged between 7 and 15, at Caritas Jockey Club Lok Yan School began to show symptoms of gastroenteritis. They are now at Caritas Medical Centre receiving treatment. Two female nurses also contracted the infection. The hospital has activated a Green Alert and the school has suspended classes.

The parents of affected students say that the Medical Centre had at least 10 sick students as early as ten days ago [7 Nov] who experienced vomiting, and question whether the hospital has intentionally withheld the news. With regard to this, Caritas yesterday was temporarily unable to provide a response.

[The description of the illness suggests norovirus infection. - Mod. CP]

USA Influenza Activity 2003-2004, Part 2d

Tue 18 Nov 2003
USA - Widespread Rash of Increased Influenza Activity

Today there were twenty-six areas (zip codes) with newly identified influenza activity across the United States and three areas with increased activity. Only one area dropped off the active list.

Here is a gif animation that shows US flu activity for the 10-20 November timeframe. Note the swath of new influenza activity on 18 Nov. [Revised 22 Nov.]

USA Flu-Watch Counties 10-20 Nov 2003
Movie installed on 22 Nov 2003.

I said on 14 November (see updated forecast above), "Further solar CMEs which impact Earth during this flu season should not trigger any substantial new influenza outbreaks." That statement may [or may not] be correct. The three day delay between the most recent CME [on 15 Nov] to reach Earth and the widespread influenza activity barrage [on 18 Nov] seems a little short for a cause and effect relation. [Revised 22 Nov.]

Another matter which does come to mind, however, is the possibility that the CME may have driven more than the normal amount of comet dust (from the first of two Leonid meteor showers this year) into Earth's atmosphere. (According to a Space Weather News e-mail dated 18 Nov, "The 2003 Leonid meteor shower began on Nov 13th with a mild flurry of meteors over the Pacific Ocean." The second shower is due on Nov. 19th.) The extra dust particles could serve as condensation centers for water droplets, which could have then led to the unusual North-South band of precipitation that raced from West to East across the United States. The cause of the high winds associated with this weather system needs more investigation. It may have been related to a jet stream being pushed closer to the Earth's surface.

The five-day time delay between the 13 Nov Leonid meteor shower and the 18 Nov influenza blast seems sufficient to perhaps reconsider the author's 7 Sep disclaimer "... barring any unforeseen Earth-comet tail encounter, there should be no new exobiological visitors (viral or bacterial) dropping in on the Earth during the northern hemisphere's normal flu season." The comet dust, in this case, may have even begun dropping in earlier thangastroenteritis, 13 Nov.

. . .

Wed 19 Nov 2003
USA - Influenza A Virus, Vaccine Composition

The influenza vaccine now being given was not developed to protect against a strain of the virus [A/Fujian/411/2002(H3N2)] that has surfaced in this country this fall, but the government is optimistic that this year's vaccine will stave off outbreaks, a top federal official said on Mon 17 Nov 2003. The reason is that animal studies suggest that the strain of virus [A/Panama/2007/99] included in the vaccine is close enough to the new one that the vaccine will still protect, said Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.

Still, she warned, that the United States could face a severe epidemic this year, given that the influenza season began unusually early and has hit Texas and Colorado particularly hard. ... The influenza vaccine includes three strains of influenza virus, but was not designed to protect against a new one that has appeared in a number of countries over the last year. . . .

The World Health Organization committee that makes the recommendations for the influenza vaccine knew about the Fujian strain in Feb 2003, said Dr. Klaus Stoehr, an influenza expert at the organization. But Dr. Stoehr said in a recent interview that the committee decided not to include the Fujian strain [in the Northern Hemisphere vaccine] because [there was not sufficient time to modify for inclusion in the current vaccine.]

Source: ProMED Digest - Wed 19 Nov 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 445


Fri 21 Nov 2003
China: Reassessment of Gastroenteritis Outbreak in Guangzhou

On 12 Nov 2003, an outbreak of gastroenteritis was reported by ProMED-mail in Guangzhou, China, and subsequently archived as "Viral gastroenteritis update 2003 (24) 20031112.2801".

This report suggested that the etiologic agent was a virus and that the symptoms of fever, vomiting and diarrhea were characteristic of a viral gastroenteritis. A subsequent report suggested that the incident was probably the result of staphylococcal food poisoning. [On 16 Nov, the ProMED Digest moderator, Vol. 2003: No. 444, stated that the staphylococcal food poisoning diagnosis must be suspect and viral gastroenteritis more likely if fever was really present.]

Source: ProMED Digest - Wed 22 Nov 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 449

Sat 22 Nov 2003
China (Beijing) - Pediatric Diarrhea, rotavirus suspected

Beijing Star Daily (via Healthoo.com) Thu 13 Nov 2003 [edited]
A new virus still has not been discovered from among the cases of pediatric diarrhea in Beijing municipality. Yesterday the media said that since the onset of winter, this city has seen a gradual increase in pediatric diarrhea, and there were specialists who said that the cause of this pediatric diarrhea is suspected to be a new virus. This reporter went to confirm this information from the Beijing's Children's Hospital, and received a denial [that a new virus is involved] in response. . . .

Yesterday's headline that: "Children's Hospital Receiving 10000 Pediatric Diarrhea Cases Daily, New Virus Suspected" has aroused the attention of not a few children and parents. . . . But this reporter learned from the Hospital that for seasonal reasons, every year during this period there is always an increase in diarrhea patients treated at the hospital . . . Looking at current conditions, the primary cause of diarrhea among pediatric patients is rotavirus, not that a new virus has emerged.

Wed 26 Nov 2003
USA Influenza, Colorado

See MSNBC's online report Flu kills 4 children in Colorado. Larimer county, mentioned in the MSNBC article, located some 60 miles NNW of Denver, has been in a Watch status on FluWatch.com since 8 Nov.

Sat 29 Nov 2003
China (Guangdong Province) - Undiagnosed Gastroenteritis at Dongguan University of Technology

Between Thur 20 Nov 2003 to Fri 21 Nov 2003, a number of students at the Songshan lake Campus of Dongguan University of Technology developed vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and other symptoms. . . . According to an unidentified student, some 30-40 students were affected. There were also students who became ill but did not go to the clinic or hospital for treatment. . . . An administrator says that 10 students went to the hospital for treatment [the evening of 18 or 19 Nov], [the next day] another 11 students were added, but symptoms were relatively light. [More than 1600 students are at the school.] The administrator also said that although some students suffered ill temper and other feelings, these were caused by psychological influences. . . . [Campus food and drinking water are being analyzed by health authorities.]
Source: ProMED Digest - Saturday, November 29, 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 456
From: Southern Metropolitan Daily, Sat 22 Nov 2003 (translated from Chinese. [edited]

Mon 01 Dec 2003, Paris
Flu Epidemic Hits France's Ailing Health Sector

More than half a million people in France, including many children, have contracted flu, gastroenteritis or bronchitis in recent weeks in a unusually early winter flu outbreak--and experts say the triple-epidemic has yet to recach its peak. - - - [Some hospitals are described as being in a "permanent state of crisis." . . . "Media coverage of crowded hopital waiting rooms and off-duty staff being recalled to cope with the influx may eveh have exacerbated the crisis by causing alarm and prompting more people to bypass local doctors and head straight to the hospital."]
Source: Reuters: Health News Mon 01 Dec 2003 08:15 AM ET [Edited.]

Sat 06 Dec 2003, Moscow
Undiagnosed Disease Outbreak Among Students at Moscow State University

According to the "Stolichnaya" newspaper, [a disease outbreak started] at the end of November in a number of student hostels simultaneously. According to preliminary data the cause of the outbreak is a severe form of pneumonia. . . [According to the Student Health Service Polyclinic] "This outbreak may be a severe form of flu with associated high temperature, where an affected person might die in 3 days."
Source: ProMED Digest - Sat 06 Dec 2003 - Vol. 2003: No. 459

USA Influenza Activity 2003-2004, Part 2e

Minor modifications were made to this page on 9 March 2005.
Latest update 20 Mar 2011.

30 Jan 2004, World Health Organization
In a Reuters News Agency online report regarding avian influenza in China it was stated:

    But where and when the H5N1 avian flu virus appeared is still a mystery, at least to the public.

    Geneva-based WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said samples taken "several months ago" in a
    country he would not name proved to be the H5N1 virus.

    "The country where it occurred didn't have the capacity to determine whether it was H5N1," he said.

* * *

30 Jan 2004, Author's comments.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which runs the Global Influenza Agenda, and rightfully chides countries which withold critical timely information about new illness outbreaks, is saying less than it could. For example, if, say, several months turns out to be twelve months, then we'd be looking back to January 2003 for the first acknowledged appearance of the new H5N1 avian flu.

The Reuters news article just mentioned goes on to report a baffling case of bird flu (strain unspecified) that is said to have killed a Hong Kong man and infected his family after a visit to China a year ago. (A year ago would have been January of 2003.) Passing on information from an article in the British weekly New Scientist, ProMed Digest V2004 # 47 reports "An 8-year old Hong Kong girl fell ill and died in southeast China's Fujian province in February 2003 Her father died 12 days later after returning to Hong Kong, and post-mortem specimens showed he had come down with the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, which has claimed 10 lives in Vietnam and Thailand." [The Reuters News Agency and the New Scientist articles may be referring to the same events.]

At the top of this webpage, in the 7 Sep 2003 flu forecast for the northern hemisphere 2003-2004 flu season, the author, who is pushing the idea of new influenza strains arriving from the upper atmosphere of Venus, stated, "Venus is scheduled to make its next inferior conjunction on June 8, 2004 so, barring any unforeseen Earth-comet tail encounter, there should be no new exobiological visitors (viral or bacterial) dropping in on the Earth during the northern hemisphere's normal flu season." If the several months back H5N1 problem had been identified to the public prior to two or three days ago, then the author could well have spared his readers the mental exercise regarding the Leonids meteor showers.]

Readers are encouraged to see the 6 Nov 2002 Special Flu Advisory for the 2002-2003 northern hemisphere's flu season in Part 2 of last season's influenza news. In that advisory it was stated, "This combination of [Venus related space weather] events might lead to new kinds of influenza and influenza-related disease outbreaks around the globe during the month of December 2002 (possibly as early as 15 November)."

SARS broke out in China on 16 November 2002 (16 days after the Venus inferior conjunction with Earth), however it wasn't until February 2003 that the world began hearing about it. The author suggests that the new avian H5N1 strain may have made its initial appearance more or less at the same time as did SARS (and may have shared the same origin). ProMED Digest V2004 #47, dated Jan 29, 2004, states, "The latest avian influenza virus strain [exhibited sequence differences from the strain] that killed 6 people in Hong Kong in 1997 and 1998."

31 Jan 2004, Eastern Asia - Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus Infection in Humans - WHO Update 12
[Excerpts] In response to outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza A (H5N1) virus infections in poultry, several countries are currently conducting the mass slaughter of millions of chickens. Such action is the major line of defence for preventing further human cases of H5N1 infection and possibly averting the emergence of a new influenza virus with pandemic potential.
Laboratory characterization of several viruses from humans and different species of birds has helped to compare, retrospectively, H5N1 viruses taken from infected birds and humans in January 2004 with viruses obtained from birds several months ago. Results indicate that the virus now causing severe disease in poultry and some humans has been circulating in parts of Asia for longer than initially presumed. Present available evidence from these studies is not sufficient to support any speculations about the geographical origins of the current outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza. [Emphasis added. RSF]
Source: ProMED Digest - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - Vol. 2004: No. 50


1 Feb 2003 - Author's wrap-up comments on the Leonids meteor shower idea (29 Jan, above).
It is now known that Nov 2003 was NOT the initial outbreak timeframe for the eastern Asia avian flu H5N1 problems. If we try to revive the Leonids meteors scenario, using Nov 2002 as a pathogen return date, (an unnecessary exercise, because Venus was having a direct shot at us at the time) and backtrack 33 years ago, as above, we get Nov 1969. The closest inferior conjunction of Venus with Earth (time wise) to Nov 1969 was seven months earlier, in Apr 1969. In baseball parlance, that appears to be a "strike out" for the Leonids meteor shower scenario.

In "my opinion, the Venus flyby on 31 Oct 2002 remains a candidate origin for the new H5N1 virus. If Venus was indeed the origin then the new strain then there should have been a global drop in, similar to what happened with the human Influenza A(H1N2) back in 2001. See the author's non-prediction prediction about that new strain event, and the outcome, circumstantial or otherwise, in reference (6) [Added 1 Feb 2004.]

3 Feb 2004 - Nipah/Hendra-like Virus Outbreaks, Western Bangladesh, 2001 and 2003
[Historical Summary.]
Two outbreaks of encephalitis, both caused by Nipah/Hendra-like viruses, occurred in separate areas in western Bangladesh in 2001 and 2003. Both outbreaks occurred over brief periods and had high case-fatality ratios. In contrast to previous experience with Hendra and Nipah viruses in which no human-to-human transmission had occurred in Australia [1994], Malaysia and Singapore [1998-1999], epidemiologic characteristics of the outbreak in Bangladesh suggested the possibility of person-to-person transmission. Exposure to animals may have contributed to disease transmission to humans during the outbreaks, but neverthless, the ultimate source of the virus is its zoonotic resorvior.

The outbreaks occurred between 26 Apr and 26 May 2001 and between 11 and 28 Jan 2003.
Source: ProMED Digest - Monday, February 02, 2004 - Vol. 2004: No. 55

[Regarding the ultimate source, readers are reminded that Venus made inferior conjunctions with Earth shortly before each of these outbreaks. The conjunction on 30 Mar 2001 preceded the first outbreak by 27 days. (Other out-of-the-ordinary illnesses were popping up globally at the same time as the Bangladesh problem.) See: Global Developments: Spring-Summer 2001. The conjunction on 31 Oct 2002 was 72 days prior to second outbreak. (Again, other strange illness outbreaks, including SARS, were occurring around the globe at the same time as the Bangaladesh problem.) See: USA Influenza Activity 2002-2003, Part 2]


(1) Bruce Kite, 17 July 2001 entry; Amy Acheson, 1 August 2001 entry; Global Developments Spring-Summer 2001. See the Kite-Acheson Effect page for a compilation of these and related entries.

(2) [PDF] E.S. Babayev, R. Kh. Salman-Zadeh, F.E. Sadykhova, and Sh. T. Shykahaliyeva, An Influence of the Heliogeophysical Conditions on Influenza Diseases in Azerbaijan During 1976-2000 - Abstract: The possible influence of solar and geomagnetic activities on influenza diseases is studied for the 1976-2000 interval. . . . Influenza epidemics usually begin 2-3 years before or 2-3 years after sunspot cycle maxima. We suppose that solar activity affects influenza epidemics mainly through geomagnetic activity. A forecast method for prophylactic measures is developed. [Added 8 December 2003. Edited]

(3) Brig Klyce, Influenza From Space? - Sir Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe, and critics.[Added 26 Jan 2004.]

(4) Xiyan Xu, Catherine B. Smith, Bruce A. Mungall, Stephen E. Lindstrom, Henrietta E. Hall, Kanta Subbarao, Nancy J. Cox, and Alexander Klimov. "Intercontinental Circulation of Human Influenza A(H1N2) Viruses during the 2001-2002 Influenza Season," Concise Communication, Influenza Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Georgia, Page 490.
[The online copy of this article is no longer available.]

(5) Donald Barber, "Invasion by Washing Water", Perspective, Focal Press, London, Vol. 5, pp. 201-208, (1963). This article was reprinted in the November 1964 issue of Analog Science Fact - Science Fiction., Ed. John W. Campbell, Jr. [A 1997 on-line summary of Barber's findings, courtesy of Norman Lockyer Observatory, is no longer available. Link removed 20 Mar 2011.] [Link to original article added 12 Apr 2016. Revised on 21 May 2016.]

(6) Robert Fritzius A Search for Evidence of Interplanetary and Atmospheric Microbial Delivery Systems - Presented at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting 6-11 October 2002 in Birmingham, Alabama

Related articles

Cracks in Earth's Magnetic Shield - Immense cracks in our planet's magnetic field can remain open for hours, allowing the solar wind to gush through and power stormy space weather.

[PDF] An Influence of the Heliogeophysical Conditions on Influenza Diseases in Azerbaijan During 1976-2000 - E.S. Babayev, R. Kh. Salman-Zadeh, F.E. Sadykhova, Sh. T. Shykahaliyeva. Abstract: The possible influence of solar and geomagnetic activities on influenza diseases is studied for the 1976-2000 interval. . . . Influenza epidemics usually begin 2-3 years before or 2-3 years after sunspot cycle maxima. We suppose that solar activity affects influenza epidemics mainly through geomagnetic activity. A forecast method for prophylactic measures is developed. [Added 2 December 2003. Edited]

That Goatnosed Feeling - Discussion on the origin of the word influenza.

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