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- forwardone - 10-24-2006 01:26 PM

A month since this topic was commented on. Does this mean that Bird Flu is dying out, or are we just getting used to it being part of life at the moment?

RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 11-26-2006 12:09 PM

SOUTH Korea has begun slaughtering 236,000 poultry and stepping up quarantine measures to control an outbreak of deadly bird flu in a hub of its poultry industry.

Health officials, backed by police and soldiers, today cordoned off a 10-kilometre radius around the outbreak site in the southern city of Iksan, the agriculture ministry said.

"We have increased quarantine activity, maintaining tight restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles there to stop the virus from spreading," spokesman Yoon Yong-Do said.

Blood tests on affected birds showed the virus was the highly contagious H5N1 strain, which battered South Korea three years ago, he said.

"Some 236,000 chickens within a 500-metre radius of the affected farm are being culled and buried," Yoon said, adding ducks, pigs and dogs were also slaughtered.

He said Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Park Hong-Soo chaired an emergency meeting Sunday and called for comprehensive action to tackle the outbreak in Iksan.

"We are closely monitoring the area as there are about five million chickens in a 10-kilometre quarantine zone, which also includes Halim," Yoon said.

Halim, the country's top chicken meat processor, supplies 20 to 25 per cent of domestic needs and also exports cooked chicken to Japan and other countries.

Neighbouring Japan has already suspended South Korean poultry imports and started requiring people arriving from the country to disinfect their shoes.

The virus can affect people but health officials said no one had shown symptoms of having contracted the flu.

"Blood tests on people in the area showed no one has been affected by the virus," Oh Dae-Kyu, head of the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, said.

The deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which is spread through contact with sick animals, has killed more than 150 people worldwide since late 2003 and triggered mass culls of millions of poultry.

Nine South Koreans were infected by the virus while helping slaughter 5.3 million ducks and chickens from December 2003 to March 2004, but they showed no symptoms of the disease as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO has warned it could take years to eliminate the H5N1 virus. Experts say avian influenza has entrenched itself in much of Asia and is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.


RE: Bird Flu Thread - Coffee Break - 11-29-2006 01:12 PM

Quote:A month since this topic was commented on. Does this mean that Bird Flu is dying out, or are we just getting used to it being part of life at the moment?

When there is an outbreak the news agencies report on it very quick here. I haven't seen any reports for a while, so I guess that things are under control for now!

RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 12-28-2006 11:26 AM

Bird Flu Deaths in 2006 Exceed Prior 3 Years Combined (Update1)

By Jason Gale and John Lauerman

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Bird flu killed three members of a family in Egypt, pushing the number of fatalities worldwide this year to 79, more than reported in the previous three years combined.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population confirmed that the H5N1 strain of avian influenza had infected the three, who belong to an extended family in Gharbiyah province, 80 kilometers (50 miles), northwest of the capital, Cairo, the World Health Organization said in a statement yesterday.

``While being transferred and cared for at the country's designated avian influenza hospital, a 30-year-old female, a 15- year-old girl and a 26-year-old male died,'' the United Nations health agency said in the statement on its Web site. The most recent death occurred yesterday, the agency said.

The patients had all been in contact with sick ducks, WHO said. Egypt has struggled to control H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, first reported in February, leading to at least 18 human cases, including 10 deaths.

Diseased birds increase the opportunities for human infection and provide chances for H5N1 to mutate into a form more dangerous to people. Millions could die if H5N1 becomes easily transmissible between people, sparking a lethal pandemic.

Human Cases in Decline?

The H5N1 virus is known to have infected 261 people in 10 countries in the past three years, killing 157 of them, WHO said yesterday. Last year, 42 fatalities were confirmed, after 32 in 2004 and four in 2003. Six of every 10 reported cases have been fatal and a majority of cases has occurred among children and young adults.

Since July, 26 human cases have been reported in four countries, compared with 88 infections in eight countries in the first half of the year.

``In the second half of 2006, there was a steep decline in the number of case reports, although similar declines occurred in 2004 and 2005, but were then followed by resurgences,'' the influenza team at the European Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control in Stockholm wrote in a Dec. 21 report in Eurosurveillance Weekly.

A few slow months in cases doesn't mean that the threat of pandemic is at an end, said Peter Sandman, a risk communication specialist in Princeton, New Jersey.

``When you install a smoke alarm in your house and then go a year without a fire, that doesn't mean you were foolish to install a smoke alarm,'' said Sandman, who consults to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on pandemic communication. ``It means it's time to change the batteries.''

Infection Frequency

Analyzing the frequency of infections over the short term ``is like trying to look at the stars under a microscope,'' said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis.

Infectious disease is linked to factors including aspects of the environment, such as temperature and humidity, or the length of light in a day, Osterholm said in a Dec. 21 interview.

``Any changes in those can by themselves have an impact, and we see lots of normal variation in diseases as a result,'' he said. ``The question is how do you distinguish long-term changes from what we might consider chance variation. That's what's happening with influenza.''

The virus can now be found in both domestic and migratory bird populations in Asia, even in areas where there have been no large outbreaks, Osterholm said. That may result in opportunities for humans to become infected, and in greater chances for a mutation-driven change, he said.

Women Over-represented

Females are over-represented among H5N1 patients aged 10-29 years, possibly because it is usually young people and women who look after domestic poultry, the ECDC's influenza team said in Eurosurveillance.

``Human-to-human transmission, as indicated by cluster size, is still extremely inefficient, as it was a decade ago when the first human-to-human transmission took place in Hong Kong,'' the researchers said.

Indonesia, with 74 human H5N1 cases to date, including 57 fatalities, is the country worst affected by the virus. Outside Asia, Egypt has the most cases.

``There is evidence that H5N1 viruses have now become entrenched in backyard poultry in Indonesia, and perhaps also Egypt,'' the report in Eurosurveillance said.

Egyptian Cases

Specimens from the most recent three Egyptian cases tested positive for avian influenza A (H5N1) virus by the country's Central Public Health Laboratory. The virus was also detected in specimens from two of the three patients by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No.3 (NAMRU-3), WHO said.

The samples will be sent to a laboratory that works with WHO for further testing including characterization of the virus, the Geneva-based agency said.

The Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population is further investigating the bird flu cases and has implemented measures to protect public health, WHO said in its statement. The other family members remain healthy and have been placed under close observation, the agency said.