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RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 02-19-2007 04:38 PM

Russia confirms five H5N1 bird flu outbreaks

MOSCOW, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Moscow's best-known pet market was in quarantine on Monday as health officials confirmed a strain of H5N1, potentially lethal to humans, was responsible for five bird flu outbreaks around the Russian capital.

Veterinary officials traced all five outbreaks, in separate villages around Moscow, to birds bought in the past two weeks at the capital's Sadovod market, commonly known as "Ptichka" ("Birdie"), where masked officials guarded empty stalls.

Laboratory tests confirmed that the H5N1 bird flu present in all five cases was highly pathogenic and potentially dangerous to humans, said Nikolai Vlasov, head of veterinary surveillance at Russia's animal and plant health watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor.

"It is probably related to the Asian type of the virus," he told Reuters.

The outbreak is Russia's second this year and the first ever recorded close to the capital. The H5N1 strain killed poultry in three settlements in the southern region of Krasnodar last month.

No human cases of bird flu have been recorded in Russia.

The virus has killed 167 people worldwide since 2003, mostly in Asia and in cases where the victims had been in direct contact with infected birds. A total 273 cases have been recorded in humans.

Health experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that passes easily from human to human, sparking a pandemic that could kill millions. Five people have died from eight cases in neighbouring Azerbaijan.

MIGRATING BIRDS

Vlasov said the virus was probably brought to Moscow by migrating birds from the Caucasus or the Middle East.

"Preliminary data show the virus could have come from the region around Azerbaijan or Iran," the health official said.

Controls were in place limiting movement to and from the five villages where bird flu had been found since Friday, in the Taldom, Domodedovo, Podolsk, Naro-Fominsk and Odintsovo districts, and the Sadovod market would remain closed until further checks had been carried out, he said.

The Moscow Region prosecutor said in a statement that a criminal investigation was under way to determine whether veterinary regulations had been breached at the market, and confirmed that residents of the five affected villages had bought birds at the market since Feb. 5.

Tight controls were also in place at other poultry farms around Moscow, though the region's largest poultry producer has said these would not affect operations.

"We always have strict controls in place," Vadim Kamashev, deputy general director of Mosselprom, told Reuters on Saturday. "In principle, we hope strict measures will limit uncontrolled poultry breeding," he said.

The World Animal Health Organisation, which monitors the global bird flu situation, has so far this year received a report from Russia only on the bird flu outbreak in Krasnodar in January, data published on its Web site on Monday showed.

Russia recorded more than 90 bird flu cases in chickens and other birds last year, mostly in the North Caucasus region that borders Georgia and Azerbaijan, and in Siberia's Novosibirsk and Omsk regions.

Reuters


RE: Bird Flu Thread - KoratCat - 03-19-2007 12:19 PM

Quote:Thailand confirms new bird flu outbreak

BANGKOK : Thai officials on Monday confirmed the country's fourth outbreak of bird flu this year, with the deadly H5N1 virus detected among chickens in a northeastern province bordering Laos.

Livestock officials said the fresh outbreak was discovered two weeks ago in domestic chicken raised on a farm in Mukdahan province, about 640 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of Bangkok.

"The results of the laboratory test confirmed Sunday that it is the H5N1 virus," a livestock department official said.

"All chicken, turkey and ducks raised on the same farm were destroyed together with roughly 70 eggs."

A statement by the livestock department said 42 chicken, 39 turkey and three ducks on the farm were slaughtered two weeks ago, and almost 30 birds were culled on a farm near the infection site.

Thailand reported its first H5N1 outbreak this year on January 15, with the second case found a week later. The third outbreak was confirmed early last month in central Angthong province.

The kingdom has not seen any human deaths from avian flu this year, but neighbouring Laos confirmed its second such death this year on Friday.

Thailand has been among the countries hardest hit by the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, recording 25 human cases, 17 of them fatal, since the outbreak began here in 2004.

The last bird flu fatality was in August last year, when a 59-year-old farmer in northeastern Thailand succumbed to the virus.

Thailand was initially criticised for being slow to respond to bird flu, but now is considered one of the countries best prepared to battle the disease, with a stockpile of 1.5 million capsules of the anti-viral drug oseltamvir.

But bird flu badly hurt Thailand's poultry industry, after countries slapped bans on raw Thai chicken after the 2004 outbreak.

Thailand, once the world's largest exporter of poultry, now only exports cooked chicken.
ChannelNewsAsia March 19, 2007
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RE: Bird Flu Thread - forwardone - 04-20-2007 03:29 PM

Anger at payout for bird flu cull

A £600,000 compensation deal for Bernard Matthews, whose Suffolk farm suffered an outbreak of bird flu in February, prompted an angry reaction on Thursday from MPs from all parties.

Jack Straw, leader of the Commons, admitted he was “uncomfortable” with the payment made to the company after it was forced to slaughter 160,000 turkeys to prevent the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus.

Mr Straw explained that Bernard Matthews was entitled to the payment for the slaughter of healthy birds under veterinary regulation, but repeated that the sum left him uneasy.

Peter Ainsworth, the Conservatives’ shadow environment secretary, said “many people will be absolutely astonished that no one will be held responsible for the outbreak”, but instead the company would be compensated using taxpayers’ money.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs concluded earlier this month that there was insufficient evidence to press charges against the company for breaches of food safety rules.

Chris Huhne, for the Liberal Democrats, said the company needed to be “held to account” if public confidence in the food chain was to be maintained.

“Giving over half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money to Bernard Matthews will cause considerable anger unless the business is also held to account for its bio-security lapses,” he said. “Ministers must not go soft in applying hygiene rules.”

Defra officials said the compensation system was designed to encourage farmers to report potentially deadly outbreaks.

In its final report, Defra said that the origin of the outbreak had not been definitively proven but that the most plausible source was infected meat from Hungary.

“Infection was most likely introduced to Great Britain via the importation of turkey meat from a sub-clinically infected flock in Hungary,” the report said. The flock could have been infected by wild birds, it added.

Bernard Matthews said Defra’s payment would only partially compensate for the loss of “millions of pounds” incurred as a result of the culling. The company’s poultry sales fell sharply following the outbreak, and have only partially recovered.

Bernard Matthews has raised biosecurity measures since the outbreak. It now has a policy of suspending imports from any country, as well as regions throughout the UK, that tests positive for avian flu until all restriction zones are lifted and any investigations completed.

It also now covers site areas that could attract wild birds, such as bedding and waste lagoons.

In addition, Bernard Matthews plans to disinfect trucks and other vehicles entering and leaving its sites if there are future avian flu outbreaks, and it is discussing with Defra ways of deterring seagulls from its sites.

Disease outbreaks on farms have been seized on by proponents of organic farming as an example of why intensive industrial farming practices are flawed.

A preliminary Defra report into the outbreak uncovered hygiene lapses at the Suffolk farm that may have allowed the virus to spread from one part of the plant to another.

Gulls were seen taking meat waste from uncovered bins at the site – a problem previously noted by pest control workers. Polythene bags which had apparently contained meat products were left in uncovered bins and could have blown across the site.

Inspectors also found several places in the shed where the infected birds were held where small birds, rats and mice could have entered. “On-site epidemiological investigations indicate that these sheds might have become infected as a result of a reduction in biosecurity measures,” the preliminary report said.

The outbreak of bird flu has prompted the culling of millions of birds around the world since Asian poultry stocks were found to be infected in 2003. The virus has killed over 150 people, mostly in south-east Asia.

ft.com