It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
The deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza is making a seasonal resurgence in Asia and could easily spread to Europe again this year, the World Health Organisation warned on Sunday.
The alarm follows four human deaths in Indonesia in the last five days, the first human case in China for six months (though the infected man has since recovered) and new poultry outbreaks in Vietnam – despite a huge campaign against it – and northern Nigeria.
“We are convinced that we’re in a repeat of last year and the year before when the virus began to get very active again [in the northern hemisphere winter] and spread from Asia into the Middle East and beyond,” said Peter Cordingley, the WHO spokesman for the western Pacific region.
Indonesia, where 61 people have died since 2005, remained the “biggest flashpoint” but nowhere in the region “has got it licked”. “Most countries are becoming better prepared and the countries that were caught out last year, especially wealthier ones in Europe and close to Europe, we hope are going to be better prepared,” he said. “But we’re still losing more than we’re winning.”
The strain detected in Asia is a mutation of last year’s but “it is not showing any sign of moving to a strain that would be more dangerous to humans or have a greater likelihood of human-to-human transmission,” Mr Cordingley said.
All four human fatalities in Indonesia contracted the virus from infected birds, authorities say. Experts fear that H5N1 will combine with a human flu strain to mutate into a form that would cause a global human pandemic.
Tri Satya Naipospos, the deputy head of Indonesia’s bird flu commission and a persistent critic of the country’s efforts, said Jakarta was still not allocating adequate financial or human resources to the issue.
The latest outbreak in Vietnam, in six southern provinces, comes despite a widespread poultry cull and tight controls on birds that had resulted in no human cases since 2005.
In signs that neighbouring nations view south-east Asia as the most likely source of a pandemic, both China and Australia announced new assistance at a regional leaders’ summit. Japan’s Miyazaki prefecture yesterday began the disposal of 12,000 chickens after confirming the first outbreak of avian influenza since January 2006 and tests will determine whether it is the deadly H5N1 strain.
EU ban on wild bird imports won't stop bird flu
The European Commission said that it was lifting its ban on live poultry imports, but would keep the ban in place for all birds caught in the wild, such as falcons or parakeets.
According to the United Nations, the EC decision to maintain a ban on wild bird imports will not help prevent the spread of bird flu. The UN's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) called the move "disappointing", doubting that the step would have any impact in preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as bird flu. A recent analysis by the conservation alliance Birdlife International showed that just 0.05% of the world's bird species appear to be significantly threatened by international trade.
CITES said the international wild bird trade is already subject to stringent controls, and has declined from an estimated 7.5 million birds a year in 1975, when CITES was formed, to around 1.5 million today. In contrast, the global trade in live domestic poultry involves some 750 million birds a year and the EU's move could provide a spur to the black market and unregulated trade.
Originally posted by soficrow
Good find murphs.
FYI - Some of the info in the article is not quite up to date:
* Vietnam has had outbreaks in 7 provinces, not 6.
* No one is talking much about the fact that Indonesia probably has another cluster, or about the other 3 teenagers suspected as infected with H5N1.
* H5N1 is endemic in Asia, and probably Africa - that's the real problem.
* Many birds - like domestic ducks - are carriers: they don't get sick, and they don't die from H5N1. FYI - asymptomatic birds do not get tested for H5N1, or any other disease for that matter.
So H5N1 is becoming an integral part of our natural world - it will continue to mutate and change, likely into strains that are NOT immediately fatal.
My reading - The WHO is underplaying the dangers, mainly because nobody wants to hear about bird flu any more, and also, because there are other diseases in the pike that already are pandemic and out of control.
...The time is past for bird flu prevention - the last chance was maybe last fall - when the international conference in Ottawa failed to gain support for adequate measures (and funding).
We really are into the plague time now. A series of pandemics will happen - probably a mix of several epidemic diseases resulting from cross-breeding during multiple infections in the same host.
The world's human population will NOT be wiped out, although many people will die. We all can certainly prepare by stockpiling, and by learning the basics of caring for the sick at home. ...Many people who die during a pandemic do NOT die from the pandemic disease, but from entirely preventable causes like dehydration and even starvation. Families and communities can work together to prevent such unnecessary death.
The world needs a plan too - not just for a pandemic, but for other "natural" crises we face, like climate change, fresh water depletion, and geophysical instability. All of these crises require cooperation between all the nations of the world - and the last thing we all need are more manufactured hostilities that camouflage the real issues.
The other qualification is that no one has any idea how many people have really been infected with the bird flu, so it is impossible to say what percentage of infections have resulted in death. Dr. Ahmet Faik Öner and many of his colleagues who cared for eight of the 12 confirmed Turkish bird flu cases at Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi Hospital in Van, have just recently published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that concludes H5N1 “can be difficult to diagnose.” This simple statement has big implications: many more people in the world may have caught the bird flu without knowing it and therefore the survival rate may be much higher. The official global tally of 261 human infections since 2003 comprises only those confirmed by a small number of WHO appointed labs. Even though the WHO only confirmed eight cases of bird flu among patients at Yüzüncü Yıl Üniversitesi Hospital, today Dr. Öner believes he saw at least 20 cases in his wards.
The trouble is in the tests; they aren't really good enough to detect bird flu. When the Koçyiğit children arrived at Yüzüncü Yıl, Dr. Öner and his team immediately suspected it was bird flu; in many ways it was obvious -- there was an H5N1 outbreak among chickens in the region and the symptoms of Mehmet Ali, Fatma and Hülya were, according to Dr. Öner, of “a very different illness, very serious and not normal.”
But when they tested for bird flu, repeated tests came back negative. Their paper in the NEJM reads, “Before H5N1 was diagnosed in the eight patients, a total of 8 real-time PCR tests, 12 rapid influenza tests and 12 ELISA tests were negative.” Thirty-two tests failed to detect the bird flu before it was positively diagnosed. But the doctors persisted and eventually got the positive test. Had the doctors at Yüzüncü Yıl not persisted, history may not have recorded the Turkish outbreak as a bird flu outbreak; epidemiologists would have an even blurrier image of how the disease spreads.
In their NEJM paper, Dr. Öner and his colleagues suggested the type of test done is important. Dr. Öner says only a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine can give conclusive results. But these machines are expensive ($3000) and take about six hours per test, and not one of these machines was in Van during the outbreak. Also, it matters where samples are taken from. Samples from the noses of bird flu patients, for example, didn't test positive for the disease.
The work by the Yüzüncü Yıl asked: How many cases of bird flu around the world have been ruled out by tests prone to giving “false negatives” or from inadequate sampling? How many national health authorities have been given false comfort by repeated negative tests? Have false negative tests comforted those who would turn a blind eye?
Flu Outbreak Declared in Blagoevgrad
16 January 2007 | 08:53 | FOCUS News Agency
Blagoevgrad. A flu outbreak has been declared in the souhwestern Bulgarian town of Blagoevgrad. More than 700 people got acute respiratory diseases and influenza only in a week. Schools will not be closed yet because the number of ill people has not reached the limit of 30%, Blagoevgrad’s Regional Inspectorate for Public Health Prevention and Control (RIOKOZ) announced. The Inspectorate urges all citizens who have symptoms of flu or acute respiratory diseases to consult their GPs and not to resort to self-treatment because there is a danger of complications. RIOKOZ also said that there was a very high percentage of people ill from pneumonias and meningitis as a result of inadequate treatment, FOCUS-Pirin Radio reported.
Flu-Flooded Doctors in Bulgaria Pulling Extra Shifts
Politics: 19 January 2007, Friday.
Doctors in Bulgaria have to pull extra shifts to handle all the flu-stricken patients that have flooded the hospitals.
Additional beds had to be placed in the hospital in the southern city of Kyustendil, because the patients are just too many.
Although the hospital has 350 beds, there are 372 patients, 80 of them children, who have developed complications after first contracting the flu. Patients have to be temporary placed in other wards and all planned surgeries have been cancelled, the hospital's head Mihail Zortev has told Darik News.
Almost two thirds of the schools in the district have already closed doors until the flu epidemic is gone.The total number of schools throughout the country that have let students on a forced vacation is 252. They are concentrated in six municipalities.
What seasonal flu' strain causes this amount of victims and severity of complications? It hasn't been typed yet
Flu epidemic threatens
13:00 Thu 28 Nov 2002 - By Christina Dimitrova
A TOTAL of 18 730 people in Bulgaria had flu and acute respiratory infections last week, according to statistics of the National Flu Reference Laboratory in Sofia.
Health authorities in Dobrich, Sliven, Pazardjik and Haskovo declared a flu epidemic. Authorities in Blagoevgrad, Bourgas, Kurdjali, Pernik and Russe were expected to do the same by the end of this week.
The laboratory's representative Rositsa Kotseva said that each day between 3200 and 4000 people countrywide were diagnosed with flu.
Flu and acute respiratory infections most often attack infants and young children.
Usually, according to Kotseva, such flu epidemics break out at the end of the winter, but this year the unusually warm November weather provoked the outbreak.
So far the flu laboratory has detected 11 different strains of the A-type Moscow flu virus and 13 of the A-type New Caledonia virus.
The complications from the virus usually are pneumonia or bronchopneumonia. Children often develop meningitis or ear inflammations.
"We cannot talk of a killer virus," said Tanya Kamenova, a Ministry of Health official. "This year we do not expect to encounter unknown strains." She said that a pandemic would be declared if there were more than 200 ill people for each 10 000. Currently the count is 101 per 10 000.
"If a pandemic breaks out, the entire country will be affected within a week," Kamenova said.
The best protection, recommended by the Health Ministry is the anti-flu vaccination.
The vaccines contain weakened strains of different types of viruses and are updated each year, based on the research and recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The efficiency of the flu vaccine depends on the general condition and the age of the person. Generally the vaccine is effective in 70 to 90 per cent of the cases, and is effective for up to six months.
It is recommended that the vaccine is given each year in October or November. It is absolutely mandatory that the person is healthy and is not allergic to eggs and egg by-products.
Pharmacies in Bulgaria sell a range of vaccines, similar in effect to the Health Ministry's vaccination. They are sold without prescription at prices between 9 and 12 leva.