The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan biodefense bill that should help strengthen U.S. response to a bioattack or disease outbreak, a senator from New York said.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization will equip federal agencies and hospitals with the necessary tools to prepare for and adequately respond to a wide range of public health emergencies, from natural pandemics to bioterror threats.
..."Bioterrorism and a major outbreak of infectious disease is one of the most deadly, imminent threats we face," Gillibrand said in a statement. "We can't afford to wait for the next outbreak to occur to get serious with a real plan to protect our families. This must be a national security priority -- with investments in prevention and preparedness, research for lifesaving vaccines, and arming our country with a healthcare workforce ready to take action and save lives in the event of an outbreak."
The law includes Project BioShield, which includes the procurement and advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents, including those for pandemic influenza.
Learning to cope with bird or whatever flu
...There is everything to suggest that the H5N1 virus which causes the feared disease continues to be tinkered with, for good and for bad. Some time ago there were reports of researchers working on a chicken --- the egg to be precise --- to engineer it genetically, to be resistant to the flu. It is not known what became of the bird. Then it emerged that two separate research teams - one in the United States and the other in the Netherlands --- had both succeeded in altering the avian flu in ways that made it easily transmissible between mammals, humans included !
What made it quite controversial is the fact that top US scientists involved in the research had been seeking to stop the details from being published even in peer-reviewed scientific journals on the plea that the data would fall into the 'wrong hands !' How 'right' the so-called responsible quarters would be, is anybody's guess, given the history of bio-weaponry and the race for windfall profits through all kinds of drugs and vaccines ---- after having their wares clinically tested in experimental fields when human guinea pigs are abundant and governments care not a fig how these innocents fare.
.....Over the past two decades, up until the bane of Avain influenza visited Bangladesh, the livestock sector, particularly poultry, in the country had been showing a spectacular annual growth on average. Entrepreneurs in this avowedly agro-based industry however, have not been getting their due, according to industry insiders. They fault this government with bending backwards to make space for big foreign companies instead, while driving many modest poultry farmers in the country totally out of business. Avian flu no doubt, had a role in it, making poultry an increasingly high risk sector.
...The poultry industry could reasonably be credited with making class one protein, in the form of eggs and meat, affordable and accessible even to the poor in Bangladesh . This is no doubt of great value, given the fact that fish had long gone beyond the reach of most of Bangladesh's impoverished folk. All stakeholders, and the government as well, must have their eyes and ears open, to strengthen surveillance in the sector and to keep up hygienic standards, keeping in mind that in this world of commerce, economic warfare rather than robust rivalry is the norm.
Outbreak of zoonotic diseases in Chitral feared
The outbreak of zoonotic diseases can be disastrous for a backward area like Chitral but it can be warded off effectively by taking precautionary measures, say experts.
...Mukhtar Ahmed and Dr Waqar Ahmed of Relief International and Dr Hazrat Nabi, executive district officer of agriculture department, highlighted the impending danger of zoonotic diseases in Chitral.
They said that anthrax, avian influenza and lashmenia could pose threat to the area as those were deadly diseases and got out of control after outbreak.
They roam by night, picking cornstalks clean, making off with apple crops. They have almost no natural predators, but they have razor-sharp tusks and a seemingly bottomless appetite for plants and animals. Their population can triple in one year.
They are feral pigs, and while they have long plagued parts of the Southern and Western United States, now they have become a problem in the peaceful Champlain Valley of New York, an agricultural heartland on the edge of the Adirondacks.
LIMBURG, Netherlands, March 18 (UPI) -- Bird flu was detected among turkeys at a farm in the Dutch province of Limburg, officials said.
At midnight Saturday, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority enforced a transport ban on poultry and eggs within a 1.8-mile radius after the flu was discovered. The region is home to about 25 poultry farms, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.
All of the farm's 42,700 turkeys were slated to be destroyed, officials said.
Last year, there were several bird flu outbreaks across the Netherlands, mostly in Gelderland, Zeeland and Flevoland.
Chicken, egg prices shoot up, Four infected as bird flu reappears
...Thousands of poultry farms have been closed in the country over the last three months as the disease, also called avian flu, reappeared this year with four people found to be infected with its H5N1 virus.
It was the second blow to the county's poultry sector, which had passed through a virtual disaster after the outbreak of the disease for the first time in 2008, poultry traders said.
As part of the impacts this time, the prices of eggs and chickens rose sharply...
Besides Bangladesh, bird flu has reappeared in Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Cambodia early this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
According to WHO, despite preventive efforts the H5N1virus continues to rage and has often compelled farmers to cull birds and eggs.
...The bird flu also reappeared in Egypt in northern Africa and Netherlands in Europe this year.
Vietnam Invests Millions in Avian Flu Control Project
March 23, 2012
The government of Vietnam, with donor support, has set up an additional US$23 million fund for the Vietnam Avian and Human Influenza Control and Preparedness Project.
....Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that bird flu broke out again this year with complex and unpredictable results.
"The H5N1 virus has changed its face. There is currently no vaccines with which to treat people who've picked up bird flu," Long confirmed.
Indonesia Reports Sixth Bird Flu Death
27 March 2012
INDONESIA - A 17 year-old Indonesian had died on avian influenza in West Nusa Tenggara, putting the total fatality in the country to six this year, Health Ministry said here on Tuesday.
The boy died on 9 March after being treated in a hospital and a health clinic for one week.
….Bird flu had attacked Indonesia, the hardest, since 2005, and then the attacks were eased significantly. But, it has reemerged again since last year, by killing nine people in 2011.
Concerns on the bird flu attacks appear in the region following the reports of the death on the viruses in Indonesia, Cambodia, China and Viet Nam.
In many patients, the disease caused by the H5N1 virus follows an unusually aggressive clinical course, with rapid deterioration and high fatality.
The incubation period for H5N1 avian influenza may be longer than that for normal seasonal influenza, which is around two to three days. Current data for H5N1 infection indicate an incubation period ranging from two to eight days and possibly as long as 17 days. WHO currently recommends that an incubation period of seven days be used for field investigations and the monitoring of patient contacts.
Initial symptoms include a high fever, usually with a temperature higher than 38C, and other influenza-like symptoms. Diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, chest pain, and bleeding from the nose and gums have also been reported as early symptoms in some patients.
One feature seen in many patients is the development of lower respiratory tract early in the illness. On present evidence, difficulty in breathing develops around five days following the first symptoms. Respiratory distress, a hoarse voice, and a crackling sound when inhaling are commonly seen. Sputum production is variable and sometimes bloody.
Outbreak of bird flu reported in Co Cork
There has been an outbreak of avian flu in a small flock of pheasants near Clonakilty, Co Cork.
The preliminary test results show that while it is what is called the H5 strain, it is not the most pathogenic H5N1 strain of the virus. Further tests are being carried out to establish the precise strain.
As a purely precautionary measure, the 100 birds on the affected premises are being slaughtered and all necessary biosecurity measures have been put in place.
The Department of Agriculture says additional laboratory test results will be available early next week and it will review the measures being announced today on the basis of those results.
In line with established procedures and in accordance with EU regulations, as a further precautionary measure a 1km temporary restriction zone has been put in place around the premises.
...It is important to note that there is no concerns relating to the consumption of poultry meat or poultry meat products and there are no restrictions on poultry movements outside the zone. [sic] ....
New research warns of Olympics flu pandemic risk
The millions of tourists coming to London for the Olympics will dramatically increase the risk that a flu pandemic in Britain might spread, according to new research to be published this week.
For Britain is ranked second in the world, after Singapore, in terms of the risk of an avian or swine flu outbreak spreading, according to a new study of more than 200 countries by the risk analysts Maplecroft.
Experts warn that the scale of the threat is vast. “There is little pre-existing natural immunity to H5N1 infection in the human population. Should the virus improve its transmissibility, the entire human population could be vulnerable to infection,” states the research - citing previous warnings from the World Health Organization.
H5N1 virus found on bird body in Hong Kong
A carcass of an oriental magpie robin found in Hong Kong last week was confirmed to be H5N1-positive after a series of laboratory tests, the city government said in a statement on Tuesday.
...The spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene. "They should avoid personal contact with wild birds or live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them," he said.
H5N1 vaccine to be tested on 1,000 people
This is the last stage of testing before the vaccine is mass-produced.
...The last test will be finalized in May, by the Army Medical Institute.
In the first two tests, the vaccine proved to be effective and safe, meeting European standards.
The 8th International Symposium on Avian Influenza was dedicated to Dr. Les Sims, from Australia, in recognition of his outstanding veterinary medical contributions to field prevention and control of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza through providing knowledge and leadership to government institutions and animal health organizations. Dr. Sims has provided sage advice to countries in Asia and Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations on control of H5N1 HPAI, including the initiation of the vaccination campaigns in Hong Kong and Vietnam.
Bird Flu Could Be One Mutation Away From Human Epidemic
...Kawaoka's study reports that bird flu in nature may be only one mutation away from becoming transmissible in mammals, adding that the mortality rate could be devastating.
"This study has significant public health benefits and contributes to our understanding of this important pathogen. By identifying mutations that facilitate transmission among mammals, those whose job it is to monitor viruses circulating in nature can look for these mutations so measures can be taken to effectively protect human health," contested Kawaoka.
Just a few genetic tweaks could turn an influenza virus found in pigs into the next pandemic threat in people.
At least one virus isolated from pigs in Korea may already have potential to cause disease in people, researchers report online September 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The virus caused severe flu in ferrets, a favored proxy for humans in flu research, and grew in human lung tissue in the lab.
“That makes it a bit scary,” says study coauthor Robert Webster, a virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. So far, the virus has not been found in people, but “if it is in the pig, beware,” he says.
Pigs are known to be genetic mixing vessels where influenza viruses from birds, humans and pigs swap genes. The resulting viruses, called triple reassortants, are a concern because adaptations arising in pigs may help the viruses spread in humans. A triple reassortant virus that originated in pigs caused the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (SN Online: 4/27/09).
Similar triple reassortant viruses have been found among Korean pig herds, so Webster and colleagues studied several strains for their pandemic potential. Only one, known as A/Swine/Korea/1204/2009 or Sw/1204 (H1N2), made ferrets sick. That virus carries mutations in genes that help flu viruses break into and slip out of host cells. One of the mutations alters a spiky protein on the virus’s surface known as hemagglutinin. The protein helps flu viruses grab onto and invade cells in the digestive tract of birds and the respiratory system in pigs and people.
The other mutation changes a flu virus protein called neuraminidase, which slices the flu free of host cells so it can spread. Neither mutation has previously been associated with virulence, but both appear to be necessary for the virus to spread among ferrets. Flu viruses need to strike a balance between clinging tightly to host cells and cutting themselves free to infect other cells, Webster says.
Although the virus made ferrets sick in the new experiments and easily passed from ferret to ferret, there’s no guarantee the virus would behave the same way in people, says biochemist James Paulson of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Humans don’t seem to pass H1N2 flu viruses among each other, perhaps because people’s immune systems are accustomed to fighting other flu viruses that contain similar components, Paulson says.
Vietnam hit by new 'highly-toxic' bird flu: reports
HANOI — A new highly-toxic strain of the potentially deadly bird flu virus has appeared in Vietnam and is spreading fast, according to state media reports.
The strain appeared to be a mutation of the H5N1 virus which swept through the country's poultry flocks last year, forcing mass culls of birds in affected areas, according to agriculture officials.
The new virus "is quickly spreading and this is the big concern of the government", ...
...the virus appeared similar to the standard strains of bird flu but was more toxic.
The 2013 flu season has been particularly harsh in the United States, where the majority of the country was reporting high rates of influenza-like illness. USA Today
The flu season, which has now been at epidemic levels for three straight weeks, may result in more than 30,000 deaths, making it among the worst in the past decade, health officials have said. Bloomberg
About 9.8 percent of all deaths nationwide were due to the flu and pneumonia for the week ended Jan. 19, more than the 7.3 percent level for an epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday, Jan, 25. There were eight deaths of children reported last week, bringing the total to 37 attributed to the flu since the season began. Bloomberg
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Tuesday, January 29 that vaccination coverage levels in U.S. adults were “unacceptably low,” and that public health workers need to do more to make sure adults got immunizations to protect them from diseases including whooping cough, shingles and pneumonia. LA Times
Bird Flu Symptoms in Children: Two Girls Dead in New H5N1 Cases, Total Four Dead This Month; WHO 'Working Closely' on Virus
As Latinos Post reported on Monday, three cases of the bird flu were confirmed in Cambodia, and two have passed away. The two that have died were a 15-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man.
Today, two additional cases were confirmed, both fatal.
...The World Health Organization (WHO) is reported to be "working closely" with Cambodia's ministry of health.
According to (WHO), Cambodia has seen 23 people die from the avian influenza since 2003. Of the last decade, only three have survived.
Three avian flu strains found in Chinese pigs
Three strains of avian-origin influenza that have not been reported previously in pigs have been identified in swine in southern China, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. .....The findings are important in terms of potential pandemic flu virus generation because of pigs' role as intermediate hosts ("mixing vessels") in genetic reassortment of avian and human flu viruses.
Cambodia, China report H5N1 fatalities
Feb 13, 2013 (CIDRAP News) – H5N1 avian influenza killed two more people, a young girl whose illness was first announced by Cambodian authorities today (All but one of the seven H5N1 cases (in Cambodia) this year have been fatal) and a Chinese woman ( one of two H5N1 cases announced by China's health ministry on Feb 10) whose infection was first reported 3 days ago.
CHINA: One of two patients confirmed to have contracted the H5N1 bird flu virus died yesterday in a hospital in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province.
Guizhou authorities said Shuai Pengyue, a 21-year-old woman from Guiyang, died of multiple organ failure. It was the first fatal case of bird flu on the mainland since January last year.
Another Guiyang resident, a 31-year-old man, remained in critical condition after developing symptoms on February 3, Xinhua reported. Neither had been in contact with birds and their cases were unrelated, the report said
INDIA: Eight H1N1 deaths in state since Jan
The H1N1 influenza virus has claimed eight lives and infected over 57 people in the state since the beginning of this year.
Bird Flu Death In China Sparks Fear Of Human-Transmitted H5N1 Strain
Health authorities in Guiyang, Guizhou province, announced that the 21-year-old woman, Shuai Pengyue, died on Wednesday due to multiple organ failure as a result of the flu. Shuai was one of two women reported in the area to have contracted the new strain of the avian influenza. Health officials have investigated the two of them and concluded that neither patient was in contact with poultry before showing symptoms of the illness. Victim proximity is important to note because typically, the bird flu is contracted by being in contact with poultry. In this case, health officials worry this could be signs that the H5N1 strain can now be transmitted between humans.
The influenza A (H1N1) virus that has left more than 100 people dead in India since January has not been detected in animals in Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture said Monday.
...The new strain of H1N1 virus, most commonly known as swine flu, caused a global pandemic in 2009 and has shown signs of returning in India.
The country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare confirmed over the weekend that there have been 708 confirmed swine flu cases across India since January and that 132 people have succumbed to the infection.
In the Delhi area alone, 154 H1N1 cases have been reported, with four
University Of Calgary Professor, Margo Husby, Loses Month Long Battle With H1N1 Influenza
The University of Calgary community have been mourning the death of one of their own as a beloved Communication and Culture and U of C alumni passed away after battling the H1N1 influenza virus for about a month.