Wednesday, February 22, 2006

February 22 Flu Update

There's a report of another death in Indonesia. Tests are being confirmed, but contact with chickens is reported.

Navapur is the region where bird flu has hit India hardest. All the chickens there were culled.

ProMed on birds in Malaysia reported as negative, and says India has confirmed human cases.

Recombinomics says Navapur has a cluster, and its getting bigger.

12 patients in India are isolated and treated with Tamiflu. No reported cases of bird flu.

Here it says five cases are being tested and results will be known Thursday night.

Here is says rumors of cases are unproven.

ProMed on bird cases in Austria, cases now on mainland Germany, and suspected bird outbreaks in Slovakia and other news from around the world. Here's the list of countries with bird outbreaks.

Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina *, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China (People's Rep. of), Croatia, Egypt, France *, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (SARPRC), Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq*, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazachstan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Romania, Russia, Slovakia *, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam.
The Times of London surveys what is going on in Europe, including Britain ordering 2m doses of bird vaccine.

An Indian writer notes that bird flu is manna from heaven for people who run Internet scams.

FAO says that Afghanistan is woefully underprepared for flu, and since it is surrounded, its only a matter of time.

Krishanagiri is an Indian state with many migratory routes over it, and at higher risk of bird flu. They are taking steps, but they seem like baby steps.

Pakistan says there's no bird flu there, but they are preparing as well.

Ireland says proper defenses are in place there for bird flu.

Nigeria destroyed 100,000 chickens.

Vietnam set up a steering committee on preventing bird flu passing to humans.

The EC approved vaccination of poultry in France and the Netherlands.

WHO updates Nigeria. Four people with potential flu, one dead. The outbreak is now known to have begun on January 10.

Recombinomics notes this, and adds reports of dead dogs and cats.

The State of Delaware had a bird flu summit.

Venezuela is acquiring Tamiflu.

Effect Measure notes that seasonal flu is shutting down hospitals in OK, and the question of what would happen during a pandemic is not lost on the people there.

CIDRAP on the spread of bird flu, based on WHO reports. Here's an interesting take on the migratory bird debate...could it be trains.

The WHO stopped well short of assigning to migratory birds the major blame for the virus's recent spread, a notion that has been controversial. David Halvorson, DVM, a veterinarian in avian health at the University of Minnesota in S. Paul, said today that H5N1 is probably being spread both by the movement of poultry and by the movement of wild birds, but no one is absolutely certain.

"The fact is we don't really know why it's being found in so many places so suddenly," he told CIDRAP News.

Halvorson suggested that trains may play a role in the spread of H5N1, as they have in past outbreaks. In the United States in 1925, "People were shipping poultry to New York live bird markets. Then dirty, contaminated crates were being shipped back." This contributed to the spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak.

"I think that the trans-Asian railway system fits the temporal and spatial pattern of virus distribution starting in July of last summer," Halvorson commented. "For us in the Western Hemisphere, it would be extremely unusual for water birds to be migrating thousands of miles in July and August, a time when they are ordinarily taking care of their young."


It is considered unusual for an avian influenza virus causing outbreaks in birds to remain this genetically stable over so many months," the statement continues. "This finding raises the possibility that the virus – in its highly pathogenic form – has now adapted to at least some species of migratory waterfowl and is co-existing with these birds in evolutionary equilibrium, causing no apparent harm, and travelling with these birds along their migratory routes.

"If further research verifies this hypothesis, re-introduction of the virus or spread to new geographical areas can be anticipated when migratory birds begin returning to their breeding areas."

The ever-present migratory bird debate is attacked again via Promed. Here, the author tries to get after the conservation lobby's attempt to have it both ways.

A similar argument was used when the virus appeared in Nigeria. That country is a winter destination for birds that summer in Siberia. There were Siberian outbreaks in summer 2005, and then recently in Nigeria, but not, it appeared, in Egypt, where most migrants from Siberia to Nigeria must pass. "How did it skip the whole Nile delta and get to Nigeria?" asked William Karesh of the US's Wildlife Conservation Society last week in the Washington Post newspaper. Now it appears that H5N1 did not skip Egypt. "The cases in Egypt make it even harder to say it wasn't spread by wild birds," says wildlife virologist Bjorn Olsen of Umea University in Sweden. It is possible, e adds, that the virus was not detected in India and Egypt until now, because it entered the country in very few birds, but has steadily multiplied, as infections multiply among birds in crowded wintering colonies.


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