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ABERDEEN, , Scotland, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Scientists tracing the history of the deadly strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus have traced its debut to a Scottish chicken in 1959.
Scientists say the first recorded episode of the H5N1 bird flu occurred on a farm in Aberdeen, Scotland, in a chicken that then infected two flocks of chickens, the Scotsman reported Friday.
However, the case notes of the original Scottish case have not been consulted, because researchers say the virus has grown heartier and deadlier in the past 46 years.
"The H5N1 that was found back in 1959 would have been quite different to the one that's around now," said Tom Pennycott, an avian veterinary specialist at the Scottish Agricultural College at Auchincruive, Ayrshire. "Similarly, there was an H5N1 down in Norfolk in December 1991 and it will be different to the H5N1 that's about just now."
Health ministers from around the world convene in Ottawa later for a two-day meeting to coordinate a global response to the potentially deadly bird flu virus. The meeting is the first international gathering to confront the issue.
The conference brings together health ministers and senior officials from 29 countries and the heads of key international agencies.
Canadian health officials say it will contribute to various international initiatives under way to reduce the bird flu risk, like the World Health Organization's strategic plan for pandemic preparedness and the U.S. international partnership on avian and pandemic influenza.
Bird flu is heading westward from its East Asian origins, largely because of the migration of infected fowl. So far, there have been no reported cases of the disease in humans outside of that region. But the Canadian officials say the increasing exposure among birds boosts the chance that the virus will become more efficient at infecting people and spread among them. They point out that their experience with SARS, which hit Toronto in 2003 and temporarily devastated the city's tourism industry, makes them realize the importance of working beyond their borders.
BOGOR, West Java: Minister of Agriculture Anton Apriyantono declared on Saturday the Indonesian Safari Park here free from bird flu virus.
The minister made the announcement following a three-hour inspection of the park.
"I have seen firsthand the condition of the park and checked birds and fowls here. Previously we conducted tests on 50 blood samples of fowls, which were proven negative," Anton said
Livestock officials have declared the province of Kanchanaburi a bird flu epidemic area following the culling of poultry in tambons Pangtru and Rangwaim in Phanom Thuan district. Yingyos Chusomphop, acting chief livestock official, said poultry had been slaughtered to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
A man died of bird flu last week in Phanom Thuan district, prompting authorities to declare the district a bird flu outbreak zone.
Bang-on Benpad is the first person to fall victim in months, in what is the third outbreak of bird flu.
Mr Yingyos said that no culling had been ordered in other districts despite a report that a child in tambon Don Chedi developed bird-flu like symptoms.
He said that authorities are waiting for the results of a laboratory test.
Surapong Tanthanasrisakul, a public health official, said two cases of suspected bird flu infections had been reported in the province. A suspected third case, a three-year-old girl in Tha Muang district's Tha Lor, who developed a high fever, was actually suffering from dengue fever and was removed from the bird flu ward.
The two cases of suspected bird flu were a 10-year-old boy in tambon Don Chedi and a 48-year-old woman, Saman Haohern, a villager of Pangtru.
The boy had no history of being in close contact with poultry but Mrs Saman, who had a high fever, had slaughtered and eaten sick chicken, provided by the same farm owner who earlier gave dead chicken to Bang-on. Mrs Saman's initial blood test was negative, but doctors gave her an anti-viral drug as a precaution until the result of another blood test is known.
Kanchanaburi Governor Cherdwit Rittiprasart said more than 42,000 volunteers were scouring every village in the province in search of suspected bird flu cases.
About 12,000 fowl were culled in Phanom Thuan district last week to prevent the spread of the disease, and a force of 250 livestock officials culled a further 4,000 fowl in the area Sunday.
Besides the two members of the Benphad family, two other suspected cases of bird flu have been reported in Kanchanaburi.
One of them, a three-year-old girl, has been confirmed as dengue fever case and has been dropped from the list of bird flu suspects.
In Ayutthaya, livestock officials received reports on the weekend of chickens dying en masse.
The major surface protein on the virus that killed six people in Hong Kong in 1997 was different from the one on the lethal human infection in 2003. "Everyone was surprised by that," Webby told New Scientist, but now the Vietnam virus protein "is very different again."
Other genes are diverging too, he says. "We have a bucket of evolution going on. This shows that H5 is circulating fairly widely somewhere, under some kind of unusual selective pressure."
The explosion in variation coincides with the period during which Chinese farmers have practiced widespread vaccination of chickens against flu.
In 2003, scientists who developed an improved flu vaccine for poultry, including Robert Webster of St Jude's, concluded that such vaccination "may be a serious problem for human pandemic preparedness" (Virology, vol 314, p 580).
Such vaccines, they wrote, might mask disease signs while allowing the birds to continue to shed virus. In such a case, "persistence of virus infection in the presence of a flock immunity may contribute to increased virus evolution".
Nepal-- No bird flu case has been reported so far in Nepal, a Nepali official has said.
Nepali Minister for Home Dan Bahadur Shahi and experts at the Ministry of Agriculture reviewed the recent outbreaks of bird flu in several parts of the world and discussed the possibility of a bird flu epidemic, Radio Nepal reported on Monday.
However, the habitat of migratory birds has been put under close watch just in case something might happen through the medium of migratory birds coming from the northern regions, the Ministry of Home has said.
KATHMANDU Oct 23: Chairman of the Central Disaster Relief Committee and Minister for Home Dan Bahadur Shahi today called the experts at the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives, health workers and the concerned people from the private sector to the ministry and reviewed the situation in the context of the outbreak of bird flu in several parts of the world and the likelihood of a bird flu epidemic.
Bird flu has not been found in Nepal so far and neither was there any possibility of it;
Kathmandu -- Oct 21(PTI) A large number of pigeons have died at a Hindu temple premises in central Nepal, but the goverment today said the deaths were not caused by bird flu.
The deaths of pigeons at the premises of Manakamana temple in Gorkha district, 175 km west of Kathmandu, were not related to bird flu, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives said in a statement, denying reports appearing in a section of local media.
The conclusion was made after a technical team of the Department of Veterinary Services carried out a study of the dead birds and tested samples collected from there. No symptoms of bird flu were found, the Ministry said.
The reason for the deaths could be change in climate, food and fatigue caused by long journey, the Ministry said adding, some of the pigeons were brought from terai region and India in order to sell during the Durga Puja.
LONDON, England -- Another region in European Russia, Tambov, located 400 km (250 miles) south east of Moscow, has confirmed an outbreak of deadly bird flu virus, a senior regional animal health official said.
"Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain (of bird flu)... in some dead fowl tissue samples," the official told Reuters Monday.
He said the disease killed 12 hens at a private dacha in Morshansk district last week, after which local veterinary authorities destroyed 53 ducks and hens remaining in the locality, and imposed a quarantine on it.
Since breaking out in late 2003 in South Korea, H5N1 has killed more than 60 people in four Asian countries and spread as far west as European Russia, Turkey and Romania, tracking the paths of migratory birds.
Moscow - A new outbreak of avian flu has been detected in Russia's Altai region in southern Siberia, after the disease had been detected in the Urals and in the Tula region south of Moscow last week, the Russian news agency reported on Monday, quoting a spokesperson for the local office of emergencies ministry.
Bird flu antibodies were found in the blood of 59 birds that died in seven poultry farms in the village of Pokrovka, the spokesman said. The dead birds have been destroyed and the village placed under quarantine, he added.
The blood samples "have been sent to Novosibirsk for confirmation of the laboratory findings," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted the spokesperson as saying.
VALLETTA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Maltese civil protection officials have sealed a ship at Malta Freeport and put its crew in quarantine after dockworkers reported seeing a number of dead birds on board, the government chief veterinary officer said.
State television said the Limassol-registered Nordsuk had begun its voyage to Malta in Taiwan. It was not known what cargo it carried. Taiwan found the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus last week in a container of birds smuggled from China, its first case for two years.
Maltese chief vet Merielle Vella told the press late on Sunday that officials were searching the ship and dockers who had been on board would be "decontaminated".
Two dead birds had been found so far and the search was continuing, she said, adding that the birds would be tested for bird flu in Malta and abroad.
The Council of Agriculture yesterday issued a warning against smuggling birds infected with avian flu into the country from China, and urged the public to report any suspected violations.
The alert came after media reports that some Taiwanese professors have planned to sneak in diseased birds from China in order to help develop a flu vaccine.
"Such specimens could spread the bird flu virus and pose a high risk to the health of birds, other animals and humans in Taiwan," said Yeh Ying (葉瑩), deputy director general of the council's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
According to Chinese-language media reports, professors in veterinary departments at some universities have collected specimens of the avian flu virus in China and plan to bring them into Taiwan for testing.
The bureau cautioned that people should not bring any plants, animals or specimens into the country without permission.
Such smugglers may be pro-secuted for violating the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Diseases (動物傳染病防治條例) and the Plant Protection and Quarantine Act (植物防疫檢疫法), and could face up to three years in jail or a NT$150,000 (US$4,460) fine, plus community service
BUDAPEST, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Eighteen dead pigeons were found over the weekend in Szeged, near Hungary's border with Serbia and Romania, but initial tests did not confirm that they had bird flu, local news agency MTI reported on Monday.
MTI, citing county chief veterinarian Sandor Szigeti, said experts had found 18 dead pigeons on the banks of Hungary's second biggest river, the Tisza.
Three were sent to the National Animal Health Institute for tests, and three had been tested locally in Szeged.
"During the dissection it was not confirmed that it was bird flu (which killed the pigeons)," Szigeti told MTI. Results of further tests are expected in two days.
Romania has already confirmed the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in its Danube delta region.
Zagreb, 24 Oct. (AKI) - After Romania and Turkey, Croatia has become a third European country affected by bird flu, as the deadly virus moved further west. The flu virus was confirmed on the tissue of 12 swans that were found dead in a pond near eastern town of Orahovac last Wednesday, the Croatian authorities confirmed on Sunday.
Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and parliamentary president Vladimir Seks on Sunday visited the area, to view the mass cull of poultry suspected of having come in contact with the sick birds. Up to 10.000 heads of poultry were reported killed by Sunday night and the culling is continuing. Sanader said the government would compensate all owners of the killed domestic birds, whose initial value is estimated at 130.000 euros.
European Union experts arrived in Greece yesterday to help investigate a suspected case of bird flu on an Aegean island as initial test results from England proved negative for the disease being present in the country, indicating that the whole issue may have been a false alarm.
The three European Union experts reached the island of Oinouses and began to take more samples from a poultry farm where Greek authorities said on Monday they found a turkey with antibodies to the H5 flu.
The experts from the European Commission's food and veterinary office will help local officials with the investigation after much confusion has reigned over the fate of the first sample taken.
Government officials have given mixed accounts this week of what samples have been sent to the EU for further tests.
The mix-up has also prompted a Supreme Court prosecutor to launch an investigation into the procedures followed by authorities.
Some sources have suggested that the Agricultural Development Ministry bungled the investigation by not tagging the turkey that showed positive in the tests.
The EU, however, played down the confusion yesterday, saying that there is no reason to complain about cooperation with local authorities.
Meanwhile, a EU reference laboratory in Weybridge, England, said yesterday that preliminary tests for bird flu in Greece had come up negative.
The news will naturally please Greece and the broader region but raises further questions about the quality of the initial tests which took place in Greece before the samples were sent abroad.
News that Greece had a case of bird flu flashed across the globe in minutes on Monday and there are fears that this may have unnecessarily dented the country's image on food safety abroad.
More dead birds were found and taken for tests in Germany,
Croatia, Hungary and Portugal as suspect cases multiplied.
But the numbers involved in Europe are still small and no
humans there have been infected, unlike Asia where 61 people died after close contact with infected birds.
A World Health Organisation official from Asia said Europe still had good prospects of stopping H5N1 reaching its tame bird population because it had reacted faster and more openly.
"There is an excellent chance for Europe to contain the Asian flu," said Shigeru Omi.
The possibility that bird flu could already be present in Britain is being studied by Government vets who are investigating whether the potentially lethal strain contaminated a quarantine "facility" in Essex much earlier than thought.
As vets investigated how H5N1 influenza came to infect a parrot from South America, which is unaffected by this strain, the European Union, the world's biggest importer of wildfowl, said it was ready to propose a temporary ban on imports.
The H5N1 virus - which has only so far infected those working closely with infected birds - can be lethal and of 120 confirmed cases, around 60 people in south-east Asia have died. Experts fear that a mutation of the H5N1 strain or a blend with a human flu could create a pandemic.
On Sunday, the Government announced that its "working hypothesis" was that a Surinam parrot in the Essex facility was infected with H5N1 by one of a second batch of birds from Taiwan.
However, Taiwan has not reported any domestic cases of H5N1. "The British authorities do not have solid evidence," said Yeh Ying, deputy director of Taiwan's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, adding that speculation was "very dangerous and irresponsible".
The quarantine centre where parrots died is opposite abattoir
A VILLAGE sparked its second national public health scare in five years yesterday as the first case of the deadly avian flu virus found in Britain was traced to a private bird importer.
Little Warley, Essex, is home to Pegasus Birds, a tropical bird specialist which is thought to be linked to the quarantine centre where a parrot carrying the lethal H5N1 strain of the disease died on October 16.
The shop is opposite the abattoir that reported the first case of foot-and-mouth disease in the 2001 outbreak.
Brett Hammond, the owner of Pegasus Birds, was convicted of VAT fraud and jailed for 18 months at Knightsbridge Crown Court in February 1997. The sentence was reduced to 12 months on appeal. He also featured in a BBC Radio 4 investigation about the importation of wild cockatoos from Indonesia that were sold in Britain as captive reared birds, which command higher prices.
Last night government vets confirmed they are investigating the possibility that H5N1 was present at the facility much earlier than thought.
On Sunday it announced its “working hypothesis” was that the bird had been infected by a batch of birds from Taiwan.
But yesterday authorities in Taiwan said there had been no reports of cases of H5N1 on the island and the British Government’s theory had no “solid evidence” to back it up.
An alternative possibility is that birds in an earlier batch delivered to the facility could have had a “subclinical” infection and began secreting virus only after the stresses of quarantine. Contaminated droppings could have released the airborne virus that may have infected subsequent batches of birds from Taiwan and South America.
BHUBANESWAR: Several migratory birds due to nest near lakes in India will be tested for signs of avian flu infection, that has threatened live stocks across the world.
Authorities in Orissa, the state with maximum migratory bird population, said scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society would take blood samples when the birds arrive for winter and also watch their behavior.
Not a single case of Avian bird flu has been reported in India but the spread of the virus to Europe from Asia has caused concern among health officials in the country.
The daily telegaph
FAMILIES will have to pay $200 or more for the only drugs available to fight the bird flu because they are not covered under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Tamiflu costs $50 per pack and Relenza costs $57 for a five-day treatment. A family of four would have to pay between $200 and $214 for Tamiflu or Relenza.
The high cost of the drugs means low income earners and pensioners may find it difficult to protect themselves from bird flu. These groups pay only $4.60 for medicines under the PBS and the script usually covers one month's supply of a medicine.
General patients pay a maximum of $28.60 for PBS medicines.
Tamiflu and Relenza have been shown to reduce the duration of flu by at least one day but bird flu in some patients has shown resistance to Tamiflu.
Companies asking for large stocks of Tamiflu are being told to expect to wait “certainly a couple of months” and potentially longer, Roche said. Supplies will be affected by the severity of ordinary flu this winter – a worse-than-average outbreak would constrain the capacity to manufacture extra Tamiflu.
GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Relenza, another antiviral flu drug, said it would be a “challenge” to get supplies to any company now trying to place an order, given the nine-month lead time for making the drug and the very high level of global demand. The company is now taking orders for the flu season after this coming one, it said.
Roche said its priority for distributing the scarce UK supplies of Tamiflu – which takes 12 months to manufacture – was the government, which placed a £200m order for 14.5m courses of the drug in March. The order is enough to treat one in four of the population. The Department of Health said health workers would get priority if state supplies of the drug ran low but the priorities for other patients would be decided at the time. The government has also this month invited drugs companies to tender to manufacture enough vaccine to treat every adult, although the vaccine cannot be made until the pandemic strain has been identified.
A few companies have decided not to rely on the state in contingency planning for a pandemic, which the government forecasts would kill at least 50,000 people in the UK without medical countermeasures.
Casualty Plus, a private casualty treatment centre in London, said it had supplied Tamiflu to several employers who wanted stocks for staff travelling to bird flu hotspots. It has also been asked to stockpile the drug for two companies who wanted enough to treat their UK-based staff. “Some companies have obviously been ahead of the game,” it said.
WASHINGTON - The government pledged Monday to expedite manufacturing of the anti-flu drug Tamiflu as its maker negotiates with other companies to boost production. The drug is in high demand as countries prepare for a possible bird-flu outbreak.
If Swiss manufacturer Roche Holding AG does license other companies to begin producing Tamiflu, the Food and Drug Administration would have to approve those factories' versions. The FDA has set up a "rapid response team" to ease roadblocks to Tamiflu manufacturing and speed evaluation of any other anti-influenza products needed if a pandemic ever begins.
Monday's announcement came even as federal health officials sought to direct Americans' attention away from bird flu and toward an immediate threat - the regular winter flu that every year claims 36,000 lives in the United States.
A fourth person has died in Indonesia from bird flu, the World Health Organisation and the health ministry said.
Health ministry official Renuizar Rusin said the latest bird flu victim died in Bogor, south of Jakarta. He did not say when the person died.
"We have now seven cases of bird flu, including four fatalities," he said.
The WHO raised Indonesia's human death toll from bird flu to four on its website.
Meanwhile China has reported a new outbreak of bird flu in which 2,100 geese and chickens were infected, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said.
The outbreak was detected on October 20 in Liangying village in the eastern province of Anhui, according to a Chinese Ministry of Agriculture report to the OIE.
So far 550 birds have died and 44,736 have been culled.
Sign On San Diego
BEIJING, Oct 25 (Reuters) - China has reported a new outbreak of bird flu, in the eastern province of Anhui, in which 2,100 geese were infected, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.
Noureddin Mona, of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, said he had been told of the outbreak by the Ministry of Agriculture on Monday. About 550 of the birds had died and 45,000 had been culled, he said
Globe And Mail
A human form of the current bird flu now circulating, the now familiar H5N1, is not a given. But the feeling is that the more infected birds there are, the greater the risk to humans.
Dr. Waltner-Toews said he believes a lot of the reaction to the current outbreak of H5N1 avian flu in poultry is misguided.
"You can't just gun it down," he said, referring to plans for British hunters to shoot ducks coming over the English Channel.
Dr. Waltner-Toews, who is the Canadian president of Veterinarians Without Borders, said that instead of spending money stockpiling anti-virals in Western countries, there should be investment in improving poultry facilities in South Asia, finding a way of "getting birds in houses" to minimize interaction between wild and domestic fowl.
The possibility that a migratory bird found dead in southwestern Albania might have died of bird flu cannot be completely ruled out, Albanian health officials warned on Monday.
Preliminary test results found no bird flu virus in the dead bird, health officials said, but adding samples have been collected for further tests and analyses.
The bird was found dead in the Seman marsh, near the southwestern city of Fier. This is the first time that Albania has discovered a suspected case of bird flu since the World Health Organization issued a worldwide alert.
Avian influenza has spread to more than half of Thailand, with 39 provinces reporting confirmed or suspected cases of fresh bird-flu infections.
Last week, the authorities had just 21 provinces under close watch for bird flu, suggesting the virus is spreading rapidly, Thai newspaper the Nation said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, provinces of Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Nonthaburi, Suphan Buri and Kamphaeng Phet have been put on a list of provinces with severe bird-flu problems.
"We are receiving more and more reports of fowl deaths," Jatuporn Kamchuen, the livestock chief of Kanchanaburi's Phanom Thuan district, said Monday. Livestock officials were busy culling fowl suspected of contracting bird flu.
At the same time, he complained that officials were facing resistance from some villagers who had tried to prevent officials from taking their birds. "We need to raise people's understanding of the situation."
Possible bird flu cases may have been discovered on the territories of Germany and Slovenia.
Germany is about to test 25 wild migratory ducks and geese found dead near a lake in a West region of the country.
Slovenia will also perform tests on a dead swan found near the border with Austria.
Fears of a mass outspread of the disease in the EU are rising, especially after two member countries - the UK and Sweden have announced cases of avian flu. While Sweden has confirmed that the virus on its territory is not of the deadly type, Britain's test results still haven't come through.
Originally posted by Mayet
With Germany currently testing 25 birds found dead near a lake in the western region of the country, Slovenia is carrying out testing of a dead swan found near the Austrian border.
VALLETTA, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Birds found dead on a ship at Malta Freeport on Sunday died of natural causes and not of avian flu, the Malta Veterinary Service said on Monday.
The discovery of the birds sparked a bird flu alert in which the Limassol-registered ship, which had sailed from Taiwan, was sealed off and its crew quarantined.
VALLETTA, Oct 25 (Reuters) - A bird flu emergency helpline set up by Malta's Rural Affairs Ministry is attracting 200 phone calls an hour as people report every dead bird they see, Maltese newspapers reported on Tuesday.
"While it is important that the public remains cautious, there is absolutely no reason for excessive alarm," a ministry spokesman
BANGKOK, Oct. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- A hospital of western province of Kanchanaburi on Tuesday quarantined three suspected bird flu patients, local media reported
Portuguese health authorities are testing the bodies of 17 geese and seagulls to see whether the birds died of avian flu, officials said today.
The bodies, believed to be of migratory birds, were found yesterday on a beach in the fishing port town of Peniche, around 100 kilometres north of Lisbon.
The results of the tests will be released tonight, a local health department spokesman said.
Meanwhile, in the northern town of Santa Maria da Feira, a man in his 60s was hospitalised late yesterday and given Tamiflu, a drug used to treat avian influenza, as a precaution after he reported flu symptoms, having found dead chickens on his farm.
'Even though he does not appear to have flu symptoms which could be identified as bird flu, he is in isolation,' the director of the town's hospital, Hugo Meireles, told RTP state television.
Veterinarians will test more than a dozen wild fowl found dead at a lake in western Germany for bird flu, state health officials said Tuesday.
Between 15 to 25 wild geese and ducks were found dead Monday afternoon in a lake used by migratory birds near Neuwied in Rhineland-Palatinate state, said Stefanie Mittenzwei, a spokeswoman for state health officials in Koblenz.
Mittenzwei said veterinarians were conducting tests on the birds to determine the cause of death.
Results indicating whether the birds carried a virus were expected later Tuesday, she said. But tests to determine whether the birds had the feared H5N1 bird flu strain would not be finished until later this week.
Three other dead geese were found in a lake near Goettingen, in the state of Lower Saxony, officials there said. The birds appeared to have been too weak to continue migrating, but would be tested for bird flu nonetheless, officials said.
"Every year we see cases of dead birds like this," said Juergen Gremmel, a veterinarian with the state.
Officials across the EU have been girding for an outbreak of the H5N1 strain in birds, and have reassured the public that there was little danger to humans.
The suspected cases in Germany, if confirmed, would be the country's first. Birds in EU members Greece and Sweden have tested positive for bird flu, but not the deadly H5N1 strain, which has been found among birds in Romania, Turkey and Russia.
Nation Multimedia - Thailand
At least six people were suspected yesterday of having bird-flu - and all appear to have been in contact with birds before they fell ill, informed sources said. The first person to be listed was Thongpron Klompanya, 39, in Nakhon Pathom, after two initial lab tests suggested he might have caught the deadly H5N1 virus. He and his wife work on a farm where many ducks died on Sunday.
It was his job to feed the ducks. “He had a headache and doctors at the health centre suspected he might have caught the bird flu and referred to him a hospital,” Thongpron’s wife said yesterday.
Her husband was admitted to the hospital on Sunday night but got scared and sneaked home, prompting a search by livestock officials, police officers and hospital staff. Thongpron has been re-admitted to Nakhon Pathom provincial hospital, where doctors are awaiting the results of further tests.
In Kanchanaburi, a four-year-old girl was put under medical observation yesterday because she developed a fever after a pigeon dropped dead in her home without clear reason.
“Also, there are many fowls dying in her neighbourhood,” a doctor at Phahol Polphayuha-sena Hospital said. Two more suspected bird-flu cases are under observation at the hospital - a nine-year-old girl and a 48-year-old woman.
Meanwhile, a three-year-old girl and a 71-year-old woman were yesterday admitted to Kamphaeng Phet Hospital with possible bird-flu symptoms. Doctors said birds had died near both patients’ homes.
The number of people with suspected cases of bird flu infection is rising in Thailand, as authorities say the virus may be present in more than half the country.
Our South East Asia correspondent Peter Lloyd reports, Thailand's health ministry says 15 people who have fallen ill are being monitored for avian influenza, or bird flu.
Since the start of the outbreak, 13 people have died in Thailand and there are signs the virus is spreading rapidly with 39 provinces placed on a bird flu watch list with either suspected or confirmed cases in poultry - almost twice as many as a week ago.
The World Health Organization (WHO)has confirmed two more bird flu cases in Indonesia, Antara news agency reported on Tuesday.
SW, 23, a resident of Bogor near Jakarta, and HEN, 21, a resident of Lampung in Sumatra, have been confirmed to have been infected with the bird flu virus, as shown by laboratory tests at Hong Kong University.
"This is an old case but confirmation was only issued last Monday," director of animal-linked disease control, Hariadi Wibisono was quoted as saying here on Tuesday.
SW died on Sept. 29 at the Sulianto Saroso Hospital here. SW was admitted to the hospital, which had been designated for treating bird flu patients on Sept. 28, from Bina Husada hospitalin Bogor. He died the day after a lot of dead chickens were found at his home.
HEN, who was also suspected of being infected with the disease, had recovered.
Wibisono said that the Ministry of Health had already examined the blood samples of people who had contacts with them but the results were all negative.
Until Oct. 14, the number of bird flu cases in Indonesia reached 44 and 14 of them died. The WHO however has only confirmed five cases so far with four deaths.
New Delhi: The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN has asked researchers in universities and biotech companies to urgently develop a kit for on-the-spot detection of the deadly bird flu at source in poultry farms.
''Unfortunately, such a kit for testing animals on the spot does not yet exist and we are still dependent on time-consuming laboratory tests,'' said Joseph Domenech, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer, in a release here.
TRACES of bird flu have been found in two of 25 dead migratory birds discovered at a lake at Neuwied in western Germany, the state government of Rhineland Palatinate said.
However, it was not considered "a surprising discovery" as traces of Influenza A, or bird flu, were often found in migratory birds, the government's statement said today.
Further tests were needed to determine if the birds, found yesterday, were carriers of the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus, which had killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003, the statement said.
CHINA has reported a new outbreak of bird flu, this time in the central province of Hunan where 545 chicken and ducks fell ill and died, the World Organisation for Animal Health said today.
A Chinese Ministry of Agriculture report filed to the OIE said the outbreak was detected in Wantang village in Xiangtan county on Saturday.
So far, 2487 birds have been culled.
It is the third outbreak in China in a week, following cases in Inner Mongolia, in the north of the country, and Anhui province in the east.
At the end of two days of meetings, delegates said in a statement they had taken "important steps towards security long-term, sustained political and institutional engagement to address global pandemic influenza preparedness."
In fact, countries yielded to the World Health Organization to lead the charge against the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus that experts believe could spark the next pandemic, with others playing only supporting roles.
"The WHO should be the first line of forward defence and we should support the WHO," Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said.
A proposal by Mexico and Thailand for wealthy countries to share five to 10 per cent of their flu vaccine stockpiles with developing countries gained too little support to proceed.
"I don't believe that we came to a conclusion on that," Mr Dosanjh said.
Instead, Canada and the United States pressed for developing countries to rely on the WHO's stockpile of anti-viral drugs and vaccines to stop future outbreaks - about 30 million doses for three million people. Quickly thereafter, eight to 10 countries with their own stockpiles could come up the rear to beat down the virus, if needed, Mr Dosanjh said.
On Monday, Canada had offered support for a plan to loosen drug patent laws to allow generic production of anti-viral drugs and vaccines in some countries to address a looming worldwide drug shortage.
"We actually need to assist them with technology transfers which I believe is a euphemism for loosening the patent laws," Mr Dosanjh said.
India and Taiwan said on Monday they might allow their drug-makers to copy Tamiflu without obtaining a license from Roche Holding AG, the Swiss maker of the anti-viral drug believed to be the best human defence against bird flu, according to reports.
But Roche cautioned countries against producing their own generic versions of the popular drug. Its patent is protected until 2016.
Australian Health Minister Tony Abbott said the proposal would not alleviate the dearth of manufacturing capacity.
"This idea that we could have as much Tamiflu as we want if only Roche would allow people is just not right," he said.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt agreed and said the United States "will be respecting intellectual property and patents".
OTTAWA, Oct. 24 (Xinhuanet) -- UN officials Monday told a gathering of health ministers and politicians from 30 countries that they should do more to contain the outbreak of avian flu and curb the risk at source.
"Our first line of defense should be attacking the problem at the poultry level," Dr. Alejandro Thiermann, adviser to the director general of the Office International Des Epizooties (OIE), told the opening session of the two-day gathering as the avian flucontinues to rage.
Meanwhile in Denmark, a key WHO official said Europe was well placed to combat the deadly strain of the virus.
"Ground zero in the war against avian influenza is Asia, not Europe, and Europe has an excellent chance of containing the virus," doctor Gudjon Magnusson from the WHO's Europe division said.
The highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu found in birds in South-East Asia has been identified in four countries in WHO's 52-member European region: Britain, Romania, Russia and Turkey.
"Through adequate preparedness and action Europe can avoid the situation we see in Asia," Mr Magnusson said.
Canada has one of the most enviable national pandemic plans in place, with stockpiles of the coveted antiviral drug Tamiflu and an action plan among provincial and federal health officials. Having learned from the SARS epidemic, which claimed 44 lives in Toronto in 2003 and cost the city $1 billion in lost tourism, Canada is ahead in such preparations.
But Prime Minister Paul Martin said developed nations have an obligation to poorer ones to share pandemic plans, influenza testing and any drugs that might ward off a global tragedy caused by a mutant strain of H5N1 avian flu, which already has killed dozens of people in Asia.
Some officials at the opening Monday of a two-day conference on battling a potential flu pandemic discussed whether they might have to break international patent regulations to produce generic versions of Tamiflu — one of the only drugs effective against the virus — if it came down to saving their civilians.
"A suggestion that's being made by some countries is that there are countries that have the capacity to manufacture the vaccine, that we actually need to assist them with technology transfers," Canada's Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told a news conference. He said technology transfers was "a euphemism for loosening the patent laws."
An international bird flu conference has ended in Ottawa, Canada with a commitment to step up work to prevent a possible human pandemic. Health ministers stressed the need for early detection of outbreaks and openness by nations in reporting them.
Health ministers from 30 countries endorsed a broad plan to stop avian influenza at it source. The host for the two-day meeting, Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh declares it a successful session that builds upon the World Health Organization's strategic plan for pandemic preparedness and the U.S. international partnership on avian and pandemic influenza.
Have you got Tamiflu? I haven't, but a friend of mine has. He proudly told me he scored a prescription for his whole family. Another friend is also trying to wangle a prescription, even though there's no guarantee that Tamiflu will work. "It saved 80 percent of the mice in the laboratory study," he said.
In case you haven't heard, Tamiflu is the antiviral drug that might, or might not, provide some protection against avian flu, the bird epidemic that might, or might not, mutate into a deadly disease that humans can catch from other humans. Already there are reports that the virus that causes avian flu has mutated at least enough to become immune to Tamiflu. Nevertheless, I predict a run on Tamiflu in this country, if only because Americans are a pragmatic people. They have observed what happened after Hurricane Katrina. They have heard the president talking about deploying the military during a pandemic. And they have guessed that, whatever their government is doing to prepare for the arrival of bird flu, it isn't enough.
Finally, Americans and their leaders will have to get over their love affair with intelligent design . Polls show that most don't believe in evolution. But it is actually impossible to talk logically about bird flu, or any other rapidly evolving and constantly changing virus, without using the language of evolution -- specific words such as "mutant," "recombination," "genome" and "selection." Without that language, a sensible popular or political discussion, let alone a scientific discussion, is impossible: We're stuck talking about the virus "jumping" from birds to humans, as if it were a magic bug with a mind of its own. We're stuck thinking that a virus is a hex that can be lifted with a single lucky charm, not something that will change over time.
We're also stuck with magic solutions: silver bullets, protective amulets, Tamiflu prescriptions. And until we are willing to elect the politicians, pay the businessmen, and support the scientists and science educators who can come up with something better, that, I'm afraid, is all the flu preparedness we'll ever have.
DRUG SHORTAGE. Moreover, the EU plans to hold a two-day influenza pandemic preparedness exercise later this year. The simulation of human influenza outbreak will focus on collecting and comparing surveillance information across 25 member states. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou also proposed setting aside $1.2 billion to purchase antiviral drugs and vaccines in the event of a pandemic.
Despite all the attention and action, there are signs that Europe is still ill-prepared for a possible pandemic. The World Health Organization recommends governments keep stocks of antiviral drugs and regular human flu vaccines to inoculate at least 25% of their populations. Yet Kyprianou concedes that "more than half" of the 25 EU governments lack sufficient stocks of antiviral drugs. European officials say the 25 nations in the EU, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, have only 10 million doses of antivirals now for an area of almost 500 million people and will have only 46 million doses by the end of 2007.