Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tripura on fresh bird flu alert, bans poultry imports

Tripura on fresh bird flu alert, bans poultry imports
Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Sounding a fresh bird flu alert, the Tripura government has imposed a ban on import of poultry birds, ducks and other poultry products from West Bengal and Assam, an official said Saturday.

“The ban on import of poultry and bird flu alert was sounded earlier this week following the outbreak of the avian influenza in neighbouring Assam and West Bengal,” the animal resource development department official told reporters.
Bird flu was officially detected and confirmed recently in certain parts of Nadia district in West Bengal and Dhubri district in western Assam,” he added.

The official said said the Tripura government has set up check gates at the border and entry points in the state’s northern part adjoining Assam, and asked security forces to maintain a strict vigil along the India-Bangladesh borders to prevent the import of poultry and poultry products.
However, the state would allow import of poultry products and birds from Andhra Pradesh (from where the maximum amount of poultry birds and poultry products were being supplied to northeastern states) and other states excluding Assam and West Bengal.
Meanwhile, the Tripura government has urged the central government to bear the entire cost of compensation to the northeastern states.
“As India’s northeastern states bordering Bangladesh have become vulnerable to bird flu with the contiguous disease outbreak intermittently across the border and as well as the smuggling of poultry products into India, the centre should bear the full costs of compensation,” Agriculture and Animal Resource Development Minister Aghore Debbarma said.
“With the sporadic outbreak of bird flu, thousands of poor poultry cultivators have been affected in Tripura and other northeastern states.
The contiguous disease has also been affecting the fragile economy of the northeastern region,” the minister said here at a meeting.
Four states – Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam, which shares 1,880-km border with Bangladesh – were occasionally affected by avian influenza forcing the authorities to cull lakhs of poultry birds and ducks besides destroying huge quantities of poultry products.
The department official said that as regards of compensation for loss of poultry on account of culling and destruction of birds, the rate of compensation – 50:50 between central government and state government – has been indicated to the state governments by the central government.

H5N1 transmission experiment stirs concern

More on the article we posted on November 17th, here


Robert Roos * News Editor

Nov 17, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – A national biosecurity board that monitors "dual use" research is apparently worried about an as-yet-published study in which a mutant form of H5N1 avian influenza virus was found to be easily transmissible in ferrets, which are considered good models for flu in humans.

A National Public Radio (NPR) report today said the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) is scrutinizing the research by Dr. Ron Fouchier of Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands. The board provides guidance on biological research that has a legitimate purpose but could be misused to endanger public health.

Dr. Paul S. Keim, acting chair of the NSABB, said today that the board is conducting a review of H5N1 virus transmission in mammals, but because of the board's confidentiality rules, he could not give any details. Keim is director of pathogen genomics in the Translational Genomics Research Institute at Northern Arizona University.

Referring to the Office of Biotechnology Activities in the National Institutes of Health's Office of Science Policy, Keim told CIDRAP News, "We have now been directed by OBA staff that we can acknowledge that a review process on the H5N1 transmissibility in mammals is under way. We are not allowed to provide additional details."

The H5N1 virus causes human illness relatively rarely, but it is often deadly when it does, with a case-fatality rate of about 60% among cases confirmed by the World Health Organization. Though the virus has circulated in poultry in many countries since 2003, it has not gained the ability to spread easily in humans. Scientists worry that if it did gain that ability, it could spark a fearsome pandemic.

With the goal of identifying genetic changes that could lead to greater person-to-person transmissibility, a number of researchers have introduced mutations in the virus and studied how the mutant strains behaved in animals.

Fouchier gave a general description of his experiments at a European meeting in September, according to a news story published in Scientific American after the meeting. He and his team introduced various mutations into the virus and watched their effects on its ability to attach to human respiratory tract cells. They found that with as few as five single mutations, the virus could bind to nasal and tracheal cells, according to the story.

But when tested in ferrets, this mutant virus still didn't spread very easily through close contact. Fouchier and his team then undertook to let the virus evolve naturally—a project that he described as "really, really stupid," according to the story. They inoculated one ferret with the mutant virus, and after it got sick, they exposed a second ferret to infectious material from the first one.

After they repeated this process 10 times, "H5N1 became as easily transmissible as seasonal flu," the story said. Fouchier said he concluded from this that H5N1 viruses "can become airborne" and do not need to reassort with other mammalian flu viruses to do so.

The report quoted another expert, Albert Osterhaus, also of Erasmus University, as saying the individual mutations that Fouchier introduced have already occurred naturally in animals, but not together.

Further details about Fouchier's study have been hard to come by. In response to a CIDRAP News query last week, Fouchier said he couldn't comment on the study until it is published. Other flu experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also declined to discuss the study or didn't reply to queries last week.

The NPR report said the Fouchier study is the subject of a "fierce debate" among disease experts and is being reviewed by the NSABB. The experiment was criticized by some experts quoted in the NPR report.

"It's just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus, and it's a second bad idea to publish how they did it so others can copy it," said Thomas V. Inglesby, MD, director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who is not a member of the NSABB.

While biology has a culture of openness and relies on the full sharing of findings, occasional exceptions to this policy are warranted, and Fouchier's study calls for an exception, he told NPR.

It was not immediately clear just how the NSABB might influence whether and in what form Fouchier's findings would be published. The board makes recommendations on policies governing publication, public communication, and dissemination of dual use research methods and results, according to information on the OBA Web site. It is up to the federal government to convene relevant agencies to determine how to respond to the recommendations.

One previous case in which the NSABB influenced a research publication pertained to reports on the reconstruction of the 1918 pandemic flu virus using material from preserved tissue samples, according to Keim.

"In this case NSABB recommended that the papers be modified to better represent the biosafety aspects of the research and also to explain the positive benefits of the work to public health," he told CIDRAP News. "There were no restrictions recommended by NSABB on the actual data or limitations to the results distribution."

Some other recent studies have tested the ability of mutant or reassortant strains of H5N1 to replicate and spread in animals, but the findings were less dramatic than Fouchier's.

For example, the December issue of the Journal of Virology includes a study in which researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis inserted the hemagglutinin gene from a 1997 Hong Kong strain of H5N1 virus into a pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus. When this hybrid was grown serially in human lung epithelial cells, it became more pathogenic in mice, "suggesting that these viruses may easily adapt to humans and become more virulent," the report says. The authors concluded that natural reassortment between circulating 2009 H1N1 and H5N1 viruses could lead to viruses with increased pathogenicity in mammals.

Dr. Lynn Enquist, the Journal of Virology's editor-in-chief and a member of the NSABB, told NPR that the journal's staff carefully considered whether to publish the paper. He observed that the type of reassortant the scientists created could occur in nature.

Another recent study, by researchers from the CDC and Scripps Research Institute, suggested that it would take a series of complex changes for H5N1 viruses to achieve airborne transmissibility in ferrets.

They determined that a particular strain of H5N1, when modified with certain mutations from previous pandemic viruses, could spread in ferrets by direct contact but not by airborne respiratory droplets, according to their report in Virology. Only when they inserted a neuraminidase gene from a human flu virus did this virus achieve a modest ability to spread via respiratory droplets.

"The complex genetic changes required by a clade 2.2 H5N1 virus to reach a low level of transmissibility in ferrets would indicate that considerable functional evolution is still required for acquisition of transmissibility in humans," the report concludes.

Indonesia: Attacks Bird Flu Spreads #H5N1

Attacks Bird Flu Spreads

Saturday, November 19, 2011
| 19:57:13 PM
 PINRANG, DAWN - widespread outbreak of bird flu on Earth Lasinrang, Pinrang. Until Friday, November 18, breeder chickens that died from bird flu reach 14 000 individuals in three districts.

After the 6500 death of farmer's chickens partners Pinrang Department of Agriculture and Livestock in the village of Awang Sipatokkong and the air, District Watang Sawitto, the plague is now moving to other districts. Nowadays teams overwhelmed penanggulan Subdin Veterinary handle bird flu cases in District and Lanrisang Suppa.

"Yes, bird flu has attacked two farming partners in Tellung Palie, Suppa and Village Lanrisang, Kecamat Lanrisang," said Kadis of Agriculture and Livestock Pinrang, Johannis Popang, Saturday, November 18.

While veterinarians, Martina Elvin who was contacted, admitted the attack at the two locations the partner's farm, in Tellung Palie Suppa, 4000 reported that dead chickens and Village Lanrisang, 3500 recorded the tail. "The mortality rate is among the sudden death and destruction," Elvin added.

The vet also said, chickens are destroyed yesterday, done by cutting the chicken positive bird flu. After it burned and then planted the chicken carcass.

"We'll do the sterilization so that people do not enter the area when not using appropriate clothing so that operational standards are not menyangkit virus to humans," he added.

While the 4000 culling chickens at the farm Palie Tellung partners, there was Saturday, November 19, today.

China-Bureau of Agriculture to determine the initial infected ducks infected with duck

Bureau of Agriculture to determine the initial infected ducks infected with duck
 2011 -11-19 8:30:07

  Fuzhou Lianjiang official home town of Osaka farmers found only kept more than 3,000 ducks died, the local Bureau of Agriculture to reflect the relevant circumstances.

Yesterday morning, Matsu Farm Bureau sent three technicians to Yangya Hu Sheng Lin duck before viewing. It is understood that the ducks injected just before the bird flu vaccination, no other types of vaccination needle injection. Local Farm Bureau preliminary judgments, ducks may be infected with plague bacteria cause duck, resulting in a large number of duck deaths. Bureau of Agriculture, said the staff, duck plague infection among ducks only, not infected with the human body.

However, the Farm Bureau staff said that this is just their initial judgments, because the local technology does not permit further identification, they have helped Yang Yahu of the dead duck sound processing. If Yang Yahu want to verify the death of ducks, our only duck to the Provincial Academy of Agricultural Inspection

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scientists Worry About Impact Of Bird Flu Experimen

by Nell Greenfieldboyce
November 17, 2011

Scientists are worried about the deadly bird flu called H5N1 which sometimes infects people. It's never acquired the ability to transmit easily between humans, but researchers would like to know if that could happen. Recently, they've essentially been altering the genes of H5N1 to make the virus spread more easily between lab animals — raising concerns about biosafety and how this research is regulated.

[click on title for article]

Russia Chief Sanitary Dr Fears Mutation of Virus H3N2 with 2009 H1N1 California Strains

Moscow. On November 17. INTERFAX.RU - Russian doctors have not ruled out in the world, you may receive a dangerous new swine flu virus mutation. It can occur as a result of the merger of the virus H3N2 and H1N1 strains of the 2009 "California." While avian influenza is not transmitted from birds to humans and from person to person. But can all happen.

"In July and August 2011 in two U.S. states had three cases of febrile respiratory illness caused by influenza H3N2 swine origin that carries the gene for the matrix protein of the virus H1N1 pandemic of 2009. For these mutations on a very subtle genetic level, a global monitoring - said on Thursday the head of Rospotrebnadzor, chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko. - If, God forbid, the H3N2 with the 2009 H1N1 "California" somewhere will converge in some biological substrate in the form of a human or animal, then it can happen something very serious. "By itself, the bird flu, cases which continue to register in the world, is not transmitted from person to person.

"Officially registered somewhere 580 cases (bird flu). 56% (sick people) die. With him joking. But he (bird flu) could not break through the barriers to intra - it is from birds to humans is transmitted, but within the human population is not passed, "- said Onishchenko. In addition, the disease caused by H1N1 swine flu virus in 2009, "California", is mild, but it is easily transmitted from person to person. "For one season he literally traveled the globe for two laps. Began with Mexico and the United States and came to us" - said Onishchenko.At the end of March 2010 in the Russian Security Council, "Interfax" reported that in October-December 2009, during the epidemic of swine flu had been ill about 4.6% of the population of Russia. This fall, seasonal flu shots do more than 27 million people. Total budget funds make 32 million vaccinations Russian citizens from the so-called vulnerable groups - is, first of all, seniors and children.With regard to the current epidemiological situation, it is still the incidence of influenza and ARI is at epidemic threshold. "The incidence of influenza and SARS at epidporog observed in 7 regions of Russia: Ryazan, Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, Chelyabinsk Region, Moscow, and the Nenets Autonomous District, Republic of Mari El," - said the Federal Service.Rising incidence of SARS in excess of the weekly epidemic threshold for the population as a whole is registered in Kalmykia. Basically, the incidence of viral respiratory infections occur among children.In Moscow, a flu epidemic may begin after the holidays, according to Onishchenko. He recalled that, as a rule, the rise of the epidemic lasts up to eight weeks in Moscow - up to 10 weeks. According to Onishchenko, according to the situation today, the epidemic threshold of Moscow may come in the second half of December. "And then students will go on vacation, and everything will be fine," - he said. Immediately after the Christmas holidays and vacations students will return to employment, and "everything will be in fu

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Vietnam: Both the four provinces also have the disease of cattle and poultry


(VOV) - The provinces of Long An, Tay Ninh, Quang Nam and Nghe An with poultry infected with less than 21 days.

Also, as reported by the Veterinary Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the country is now three provinces have PRRS in pigs less than 21 days, including Long An, Tay Ninh and Quang Nam. In 10 days, at the local outbreaks is not new, nor discovered pigs.

To support the local are PRRS in pigs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has not made payment for 200,000 doses of cholera vaccine in pigs national reserve to support the local.

According to Liao China Resources, Deputy Director of Agriculture and Rural Development in Long An province, over time, the Department has aggressively directing the prevention of diseases in cattle, poultry and promptly destroyed immediately infected cattle, while conduct disinfection, hygiene breeding facilities, vaccination of all pigs in the province is not infected.

To date, only 2 / 12 and Tan Tru district in Long An Province's Chau Thanh blue ear disease was less than 21 days.

On avian flu, on 10/11, Nghe An province announced bird flu in Xuan Quynh, Quynh Luu district and asked the concerned units in organizing disinfection, hygiene and animal pens farming households occurred in the translation and implementation of measures to prevent the spread of epidemics on a large scale.

Apart from the outbreak was discovered at Xuan Quynh, Quynh Luu district, from 24/10 - 6 / 11 the past, now has more than 10 days, in Nghe An without discovering a new outbreak. /.

WHO Warns Of New Pandemic

Friday 18 November 2011 06:57

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the international community to step up global efforts to fight future pandemics, warning another outbreak is just a matter of time.
Over 100 international health experts from some 30 countries converged on Mexico City this week to discuss how authorities can help stave-off another animal to human epidemic spreading over the world.

Headed by the WHO and with the support of Mexico's government, the three-day conference entitled "Health Risks in Human-Animal Ecosystems" aims to establish a co-ordinated globalresponse to deal better with future outbreaks and human infections from animal species.

With a stark warning for conference participants that another deadly pandemic is a matter of when and not if, WHO Assistant Director-General of Health Security and Environment Keiji Fukuda urged the world to speed up efforts on an action plan against future contagion.

"We do face the risk of another pandemic in the future. We know that the viruses which can cause influenza pandemic circulate in animals and then we don't know when one of those viruses then becomes highly infectious for people and then spreads around the world. We also don't know when something like that happens, which we do expect in the future someday, when something like that happens we don't know how severe the effect will be," he said.....[continued]

H5N2 #Bird Flu Breaks Out in Taiwan

Friday, November 18, 2011

Highly Pathogenic Bird Flu Breaks Out in Taiwan

TAIWAN - The Taiwanese veterinary authorities have reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), at Zhupei City located in Northern Taiwan's Hsinchu.

The World Oragnisation for Animal Health (OIE) received an immediate notification yesterday, 17 November. The causal agent was found to be H5N2 serotype.

The affected population consists of 2,720 native chicken breeders and 3,280 native chickens, thereby bringing the number of susceptible birds to 6000. Out of this, 20 cases were identified. No deaths were recorded, and no birds were destroyed.

The report states that the notifiable avian influenza (NAI) viral infection was detected on a native chicken breeder farm in the process of active surveillance and identified as H5N2 strain on 15 November 2011. Movement restriction was implemented on the infected farm immediately when the virus was detected.

Clinical health investigation in the infected farm was done and showed that the breeders were in healthy condition and without clinical signs. The positive results of serological and virological tests confirm this H5N2 outbreak. The clinical and epidemiological investigation of surrounding poultry farms and pathogenicity test of virus isolate are in progress.

According to the report, note by the OIE Animal Health Information Department: H5 and H7 avian influenza in its low pathogenic form in poultry is a notifiable disease as per Chapter 10.4. on avian influenza of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code (2011).

The source of the outbreak remains inconclusive.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reassortment and mutation of the avian influenza polymerase PA subunit overcomes species barriers

Andrew Mehle1,*,
Vivien G. Dugan2,
Jeffery K. Taubenberger2 and
Jennifer A. Doudna1,3,4

+ Author Affiliations


Emergence of new pandemic influenza A viruses requires overcoming barriers to cross-species transmission as viruses move from animal reservoirs into humans. This complicated process is driven by both individual gene mutations and genome reassortment.

The viral polymerase complex, composed of the proteins PB1, PB2 and PA, is a major viral factor controlling host-adaptation, and reassortment events involving polymerase gene segments occurred in past pandemic viruses.

Here we investigate the ability of polymerase reassortment to restore the activity of an avian influenza polymerase that is normally impaired in human cells.
Our data show that substitution of human-origin PA subunits into an avian influenza polymerase alleviates restriction in human cells and increases polymerase activity in vitro. Reassortants with 2009 pandemic H1N1 PA proteins were the most active.

Mutational analyses demonstrate that the majority of the enhancing activity in human PA results from a threonine to serine change at residue 552. Reassortant viruses with avian polymerases and human PA subunits, or simply the T552S mutation, displayed faster replication kinetics in culture and increased pathogenicity in mice compared to those containing a wholly avian polymerase complex. Thus, acquisition of a human PA subunit, or the signature T552S mutation, is a potential mechanism to overcome the species-specific restriction of avian polymerases and increase virus replication.
Our data suggest that the human, avian, swine and 2009 H1N1-like viruses that are currently co-circulating in pig populations set the stage for PA reassortments with the potential to generate novel viruses that could possess expanded tropism and enhanced pathogenicity.

In Nagaland, #bird flu, poultry import ban

In Nagaland, bird flu, poultry import ban
Thursday, 17 November 2011
 In some parts of Assam and Nagaland in the wake of reports of an outbreak to be imported from the government there has decided to ban poultry products. Official sources said on Thursday in Assam's Dhubri district Agomoni Bamondanga part of the big flu outbreak was reported in a rural section.The state government of Assam to ban all imports of poultry products has been decided. It has been implemented with immediate effect. In addition to all the responsible departments have been issued in this regard.

Nagaland imposes ban on poultry from Assam

Nagaland imposes ban on poultry from Assam

Kohima, Nov 17 : The Nagaland Government today decided to impose a ban on any type of poultry products from Assam following report of avian flu in some parts of Assam.

According to official sources here, in view of the recent outbreak of avian influenza in Bhamondanga Part-I village block, Agomoni in Dhubri district of Assam, the Nagaland Government decided to impose ban on all sorts of poultry products from the state of Assam to Nagaland with immediate effect as preventive measures till further notice.
It requested all responsible government departments to strictly comply with the government directives, sources said.


Kuwait bans the import of birds from Iran

Because of bird flu ban the import of birds from Iran

She said the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources yesterday that it had decided the temporary ban on import of all kinds of birds, eggs and young chickens from Islamic Iran. The Board confirmed in a press statement in this regard that the decision was based on reports from the World Organization for Animal Health, the presence of bird flu in Iran, according to the list of quarantine system of the State of Kuwait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

H5N1 avian influenza virus "re-export"

H5N1 avian influenza virus "re-export"Updated: 9:36 AM, 17/11/2011
H5N1 avian influenza virus are appearing again in the poultry markets in China, especially in the South, causing great difficulties for this country to prevent a new pandemic.

Worse, a variant of the virus called H5N1- is spreading widely among birds that live vaccines are in use today can not be prevented entirely, reported China Daily quoted Guo Fusheng, the veterinary experts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said.
"In autumn and winter this year, China faces the risk of avian influenza outbreaks in poultry and in humans", experts warn.
Sun Yan, an official of the Veterinary Department, said that China is vulnerable to bird flu as the country to 25% of breeding birds, 87% and 65% of ducks and geese of the world.
New vaccines to prevent H5N1- of this country by the Ministry of Agriculture is currently developing a clinical trial.

 Outbreaks of bird flu (H5N1) has been increasingly disturbing manners of Bali, to the Animal Husbandry Department of Fisheries and Marine Denpasar city are encouraged to intensify spraying of poultry from outside the region as well as poultry farmers to anticipate the spread of bird flu virus.

More on the "H5N2" outbreak in China

4 At first the country this year sentence for low-pathogenic /
 Jubei farm bird flu was detected in
Hsinchu County Government confirmed that there is a chicken farm territory, suspected due to seasonal changes, routine screening of chickens was found in the "low-pathogenic H5N2 strain of bird flu" virus strains, but no chickens died, on human health no threat, has control of disinfection.
 Jubei City, Hsinchu County, the fourth country this year since the outbreak of bird flu, now six thousand chicken farms all mobile control. Anti Inspection Bureau, said the preliminary conclusion from the clinical symptoms of low pathogenic, the virulence of the home health test report, released next week, the case of low pathogenic will be continuous monitoring for three months, the virus can not deregulation, without culling.

6,000 chickens mobile control "restricted movement"

Huang Guoqing, deputy director of anti-Inspection Bureau, said this farm last month, 19 samples, 24 isolated H5 antibodies, October 15, 1999 to further virus isolation from serum and detected H5N2.

Huang Guoqing said, the farm has four sheds, with an abandonment, three were three 二八 soil imitation chicken and 二七 soil imitation chicken. Will move the control to do all the chicken, raw chicken eggs using fumigation, hatched chicks have not detected the virus so far.

Livestock disease prevention and control of the Hsinchu County Government, said at the 15th notified the Council of Agriculture, the farm ten specimens, the "low-pathogenic H5N2 strain of bird flu" virus strains exist, a report immediately to the scene by moving the control to do , followed by the field and its radius of three kilometers of the other poultry farms, a comprehensive inventory, visit and disinfection. The results showed that the contacts are related to health, even the sick strains were found within the chicken farm also jump, good health too.

This represents, H5N2 is a low pathogenic influenza virus family, not people dreaded H5N1. Such viruses may spread through the air, it may be from birds, wild birds and other spread, initially suspected to be, and recent climate change and so on.

Mainland to Hong Kong H3N2 detected in pigs repeated

Mainland to Hong Kong H3N2 detected in pigs repeated
 Mainland pigs supplied to Hong Kong once again tested the new swine flu variant of shuffle, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the University of Hong Kong in the past two months in the regular monitoring of pigs, with 15 samples found to contain swine gene of influenza virus H3N2 swine flu is twice found in the routine monitoring of the virus. However, Hong Kong University microbiologist stressed that the new virus to human health and pose a major threat to food safety.

Centre for Food Safety announced yesterday mid-August to October Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse pig flu virus monitoring results, about 1,000 pigs in the samples found no swine flu (H1N1 influenza) virus, but a decade five samples were found new H3N2 swine flu virus, but also with the virus of human swine influenza virus genes involved in the pigs from Guangdong, Hunan and Hubei.
 Center of the previously reported constant monitoring from May to July, also found that sixteen samples containing the virus.
  Department of Microbiology, HKU Professor Peiris stressed that the new viruses do not pose a major threat to human health, does not affect food safety. University of Hong Kong experts had earlier explained that the new part of the virus genes with human H3N2 influenza virus similar to, supposedly most people have the virus antibody.

  Safest eating cooked

 CFS spokesman said people eating cooked to an internal temperature of 70 degrees Celsius or more pork is safe.  Are all imported from the Mainland registered farms from approved, along with health certificates issued by the Mainland authorities to prove good health.

China-#Bird flu virus found in poultry markets

#Bird flu virus found in poultry markets

08:28, November 17, 2011

BEIJING - The bird flu virus, also known as H5N1, seems to exist widely in the poultry markets, particularly in South China, posing a tough challenge for the nation's epidemic intervention work, senior experts warned.
Worse, a mutant strain of the virus called H5N1- was found spreading among live poultry, which the vaccine now in use cannot fully protect against, Guo Fusheng, technical adviser in animal health of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation, told China Daily on Tuesday, citing information and statistics from China's Ministry of Agriculture. "With the arrival of autumn and winter, the country is facing an escalating risk of bird flu outbreaks among poultry as well as that of humans getting infected," he warned.

Yu Kangzhen, the national chief veterinary officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, said previously that it would be hard to avert regional bird flu cases during autumn and winter but "the chance of large-scale outbreaks is quite slim".

In late August, FAO warned of a possible resurgence of bird flu outbreaks around the world. According to the organization, since the virus was first detected in 2003, it has infected at least 560 people worldwide, killing 331 of them.

Sun Yan, an official of the Bureau of Veterinary under the Ministry of Agriculture, conceded that China is at even greater risk of avian influenza, given that it produced 25 percent chicken, 87 percent goose and 65 percent duck of the world's total yield.
In China, some 50 cases of bird flu involving poultry have been detected on the mainland since 2004, with 31 of these in 2005 alone, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Forty human cases were reported, including 26 deaths, statistics from the Ministry of Health showed.

The last human death happened in June in Hubei province and the infected woman tested positive for H5N1-, said Shu Yuelong, director of the National Influenza Center of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, going by all detected human bird flu cases worldwide, the primary risk factor for human infection appears to be direct or indirect exposure to infected live or dead poultry or contaminated environments, according to the World Health Organization.

"The poultry is safe to eat," said Guo, adding that the virus can be easily killed during cooking.

A new vaccine against the H5N1-, developed mainly by the Ministry of Agriculture, has already entered clinical trials, he said.

But regional inspections showed that the inoculation rate among poultry that stayed in water, like ducks, was even lower than 50 percent.

Liu Baoyun, a duck raiser from Jiangsu province, told China Daily that he did not like his ducks vaccinated as "they produce less eggs after vaccination".

Hand, foot and mouth disease kills 147 in Vietnam

Hand, foot and mouth disease kills 147 in Vietnam

With around 2,620 children contracting hand, foot and mouth disease last week, the total number of patients in Vietnam this year tops 87,500, ten times last year’s figure, the Ministry of Health reported.
Last week five more children had died in Soc Trang, Dong Nai, and Binh Thuan Provinces, taking the death toll in 28 provinces and cities to 147, many times higher than last year, it said.

On November 4 Ninh Thuan became the first – and so far, only -- province to announce the disease as an epidemic after it spread to six of the province’s seven towns and districts, where 417 children contracted it, three of them fatally.

The number of patients was 24 times higher then in the same period last year, authorities reported.

Most of them were aged below three, they said.

The ministry said it would announce a national epidemic if two or more localities did so.

Later this week it plans to hold a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City with representatives of provinces and cities that have reported more than 1,500 cases to strengthen preventive measures.

The event will be chaired by Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

Several provinces and cities, including HCMC, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Long An, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, and Quang Ngai, have reported more than 5,000 cases.

Since there is no vaccine against the disease, preventive measures were very important to contain its spread, the health department said.

It called on people to keep their surroundings hygienic and wash their hands regularly, especially the hands of children and those who take care of or feed them.