Bird Flu - Archives
China Accused Again
Newspapers are reporting that China has
sharing important bird flu information:
The World Health Organisation blasted China's agriculture ministry
yesterday for not sharing samples of a newly discovered strain of bird flu,
complicating the health watchdog's efforts to track the virus's spread.
The WHO's comments came after a scientific report published earlier this
week suggested the new strain - called H5N1 Fujian-like - is now widespread
across much of southern China and South-east Asia.
Despite that prevalence, the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has not given the
WHO any samples of the new strain, said Julie Hall, an infectious disease
expert at the WHO's Beijing office.
"There's a stark contrast between what we're hearing from the researchers
and what the ministry of agriculture says," said Dr Hall. "Unless the
ministry tell us what's going on and shares viruses on a regular basis, we
will be doing diagnostics on strains that are old."
She said the MOA has not shared any bird-flu samples with the WHO since
November 3rd, 2006
Chinese scientists are warning of a
major bird flu outbreak in the country this coming winter or spring.
Such an outbreak, which would hit poultry and human beings, would
probably take place as common flu cases reach their peak, said Zeng Guang,
chief epidemiology scientist at China's Centre for Disease Control and
Zeng said that the three major bird flu outbreaks over the past three years
had all taken place during the winter or spring.
September 25th, 2006
China has announced that its
bird flu death was in November 2003, two years earlier than previously
reported. Until now it had been thought that the first human deaths of the
current outbreak were in Vietnam in December 2003.
According to a bland
statement from WHO:
The [Chinese] Ministry of Health has informed WHO of its intention to
strengthen communication mechanisms, and to ensure that more of the
country’s research institutes are integrated into the reporting system.
August 9th, 2006
China - A Long History of Cover-Ups
A strange story from China. A goose farmer has been jailed after - correctly
reporting a bird flu outbreak. Full details are not clear, but Reuters
"The defendant used measures such as fabricating facts and hiding truth
to swindle public and personal property ... so he should be punished for two
crimes," Xinhua quoted the prosecution as saying.
Chinese media reported last month that China was considering fines for media
outlets that report emergencies, such as riots, natural disasters and
outbreaks of disease such as SARS or bird flu, without authorization.
China has a long history of covering up emergency incidents, and news
blackout are regularly imposed by sensitive propaganda officials nervous
about the effects of news reports on the image of the ruling party.
July 12th, 2006
China - More H5N1
A new wave of bird flu has hit
as experts grapple with reports that a man died of the virus in 2003, two
years earlier than any human infections had officially been reported.
July 3rd, 2006
into the mystery of that letter to the New England Journal of Medicine from
eight Chinese scientists:
Had that information been made available at the time, countries in the
region may have been able to respond when the virus appeared within their
borders and lives may have been saved.
China only began reporting cases in November 2005, and has only admitted to
19 H5N1 cases with 12 deaths.
Officials say lives certainly would have been saved in Vietnam and Thailand
and the incident has all manner of implications.
International influenza experts have always suspected China has not always
been totally transparent when it comes to such cases and has thought there
were hidden or missed human cases of H5N1, but none expected those
suspicions to be confirmed in one of the world's most respected medical
June 27th, 2006
More Bird Flu Confusion from China
The current bird flu outbreak is generally thought to date from December
2003 and early 2004, when a wave of infections hit a number of countries in
Asia. Now comes news - or does it? - that a man in
died of bird flu in November 2003.
The "news" comes in the form of a letter from eight Chinese scientists to
the New England Journal of Medicine.
But after writing the letter, the scientists apparently asked that it be
withdrawn. However, the journal's deadline had already passed, and this was
Previously, it was believed that China's first bird flu case was in 2005.
What's going on?
June 23rd, 2006
Mystery Chinese Bird Flu Case Worries Hong Kong
Hong Kong authorities are concerned about a bird flu case in Shenzhen,
and are considering a ban on poultry imports from mainland China.
A 31-year-old man was suspected of having contracted the deadly H5N1
virus in Shenzhen, which is located right across the border from Hong Kong.
'We are very concerned about this bird flu case in Shenzhen (as the patient)
didn't make any contacts with poultry and birds,' [Health Secretary York]
'(This) makes us think there is a possibility that there might be poultry
which might not have clear flu symptoms but can spread virus to humans.
That's what we are most worried about,' he said.
June 15th, 2006
China (Again) Denies
Bird Flu Under-Reporting
China is once more being
forced to defend its
bird flu count, following new reports that it is seriously
under-reporting the number of cases of human infection. Given China’s
record, this is a story that is going to run and run. I’ve written about
this a number of times before,
here – just keep scrolling down.
More Cover-Ups in China
Times – in an article published online by The Australian – says “Chinese
state secrecy and academic squabbles” are denying important research
material to scientists working to develop a bird flu vaccine.
According to Julie
Hall, who heads the World Health Organisation's bird flu team in China, the
[Agriculture] ministry has only now changed its policy after international
pressure. Dr Hall confirmed the WHO had received no live virus material from
the Chinese since 2004, when five samples were handed over.
….Local officials are
still covering up episodes of bird flu in southern China, where it has
become endemic. The latest outbreak has claimed 10 lives.
This Sounds Bad
A Chinese research team
has found that up to one per cent of apparently healthy chickens, ducks and
geese at markets in Southern China are
with H5N1. The implications are enormous.
Bird Flu Threat to
Last week came reports
that bird flu in Germany could endanger this year’s soccer World Cup. Now a
commentator is suggesting that the
Olympics are in similar peril.
Health Organization has confirmed a further bird flu death in China, a
41-year-old woman from Fujian province. It is China’s seventh confirmed
case, and third fatality. Somewhat ominously, WHO reports:
Agricultural authorities so far have not been able to confirm the
presence of the H5 virus subtype in poultry in the vicinity of the patient’s
residence or place of work. Investigators have not been able to confirm any
direct contact between the patient and poultry prior to the onset of
illness. The investigation, however, is continuing and answers to these and
other questions are still being sought.
Developed in China
a breakthrough in China, with scientists there apparently developing a
new, super-Tamiflu. It is a drug that is said to be superior to Tamiflu in
treating humans with bird flu, yet costs one-third the price.
to the report:
Chinese drug was developed by a research group at the Academy of Military
Medical Sciences, which could not immediately be reached for comment.
'We have completed clinical experiments, and find it is more effective on
humans than Tamiflu,' the newspaper [China Daily] quoted Li Song, a leading
scientist in the academy's research group, as saying.
No details were given on whether any clinical tests had been conducted on
the drug and whether it had been approved for production or sale.
Concealing Bird Flu Deaths?
Yes, says another prominent expert, Guan Yi of the University of Hong
Kong. "Quite honestly, some provinces have the virus and they still haven't
announced any outbreak. I can show direct evidence, even though China is
still trying very hard to block my research," he told the
Globe and Mail newspaper.
Health Organization continues to support the Chinese authorities, who deny
10-year-old girl has reportedly tested positive for the H5N1 virus. It
would be only the country’s fourth official case of human infection.
"Still Not Open"
New York Times wonders if China is concealing bird flu deaths, just
as it did during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Scientists have long
been mystified by the low number of cases in humans reported in China, which
has such a severe bird flu problem that it recently announced plans to
vaccinate 14.2 billion chickens, geese and ducks. Far smaller countries,
with less severe bird flu outbreaks, have reported many more human cases.
newspaper quotes a WHO official as stating that the organization did not
believe that China was deliberately trying to mislead, but, rather “systems
to diagnose a virus-like bird ailment were often poorly developed and
underfinanced in the rural areas with the most cases.”
Nevertheless, the article goes on to state:
In a recent
editorial, Hu Shuli, the outspoken editor of “Caijing,” China's most
prestigious investigative magazine, complained that local officials had
stymied her journalists' attempts to investigate the death, possibly from
bird flu, of a 12-year-old girl in Hunan.
"The situation has
improved immensely over what we witnessed in the early days of the SARS
epidemic in 2003, when the question of the virus's very existence was deemed
a state secret," she said. "But if we want to further improve the situation,
we must also acknowledge that officials still are not open and efficient
enough in disclosing virus information to the public."
the international spread of bird flu have complained that China has not
shared information about its experiences with the disease, although they say
the situation has improved lately.
Still, while Vietnam,
Indonesia and Thailand have provided international specialists with samples
of viruses from each bird flu outbreak, China has not shared such material.
Chinese Really Died of Bird Flu?
A few days
ago came reports
that a reputable Japanese scientist had told a conference in Germany that
confidential sources had revealed to him that 300 people had died in China
from H5N1 bird flu, including seven cases of human-to-human transmission.
to the report, the scientist, Masato Tashiro, head of virology at Tokyo’s
National Institute of Infectious Disease, had learned of the deaths while
working with WHO to investigate a flu outbreak in Hunan.
Health Ministry has
denied the report....continue
Have 300 Chinese Really Died of Bird
from China – 300 Dead
doesn’t sound good. A Japanese scientist has told a
of virologists in Germany that 300 Chinese have died of H5N1 bird flu,
including seven cases of human-to-human transmission. He said Chinese
colleagues, who disclosed the figures to him, had been threatened with
arrest if they publicly revealed the extent of the problem.
Masato Tashiro, head
of virology at Tokyo’s National Institute of Infectious Disease – a
WHO-collaborating centre for bird flu – told the meeting of virologists in
Marburg, Germany, on 19 November that “we have been systematically
deceived”. His comments were reported in the German newspaper Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung….Tashiro could not be reached for comment today. The
newspaper reported that he said the numbers came from sources he trusted,
while he was in Hunan province for the WHO, working with Chinese
investigators on the recent H5N1 outbreak there.
He said five Chinese
medical personnel had been arrested for trying to report these cases,
according to the paper. China enforced severe restrictions on the
investigation and reporting of suspected cases of bird flu in June
2005….Virologists consider the relative absence of human cases of bird flu
in China unusual, given its widespread infection in birds. China has
reported poultry outbreaks in twenty counties all across the country since
mid-October, the latest being on Thursday.
….There are other
unconfirmed reports of human cases in China.
an independent Chinese website, reported this week that 77 workers brought
in to help control rampant H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in Liaoning province in
November have died of the virus, listing 14 names. Boxun reported the extent
of the outbreak in wild birds at Qinghai Lake in central China in May, and
alleged then that 120 people had been put in stringent hospital isolation in
a nearby town, possibly with bird flu.
confirmed its first cases of bird flu, with three victims, two of whom have
died. According to the
New York Times:
Ministry said this evening that bird flu had been confirmed in a 9-year-old
boy and his 12-year-old sister in central China's Hunan Province and in a
36-year-old woman in Anhui Province in east-central China. The boy has
recovered and was released from the hospital last weekend; the girl and the
In confirming all
three cases as infections with the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Chinese
authorities went even further than the W.H.O. was willing to go. The W.H.O.
agreed late today that the boy and the woman, a teacher, had been infected
with bird flu. But the sister's body was cremated before her case became the
subject of international medical attention, and the W.H.O. concluded that
samples drawn before she died were not adequate for determining whether she
had bird flu.
Vaccinations in China, Mutations in Vietnam
to vaccinate all five billion of the country’s poultry against H5N1 bird
flu. The announcement comes after a series of flu outbreaks in birds.
to the New
will slow the spread of the virus and reduce human exposure to it, but will
also make any remaining virus hard to detect….Officials
have blamed outbreaks in Liaoning, where a woman is suspected of contracting
the disease, on the use of faulty or fake vaccines on poultry. But it is
known that the virus can persist and spread even in properly vaccinated
birds unless stringent precautions are taken.
The journal also
confirms alarming news from Vietnam:
H5N1 has already been
mutating rapidly in Vietnam, where few chickens are vaccinated. Cao Bao Van,
head of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, told the
Vietnamese press this week that 24 isolates of H5N1 from poultry and humans,
taken between December 2003 and March 2005, show “significant variation”.
Cao was also quoted
as saying a mutation had been observed in the PB2 gene of a virus isolated
from a human case in March, which “allows more effective breeding of the
virus in mammals”. PB2 codes for part of the polymerase enzyme which
replicates the virus.
That mutation, at
amino acid number 627 of the protein, changes the glutamic acid of bird flu
to the lysine typical of human flu. The change allows the virus to replicate
in the human respiratory tract, which is cooler than the bird guts where
bird flu normally replicates.
The same mutation has
been turning up since 2004 in several isolates of H5N1 from humans and other
mammals in East Asia and shows the virus is adapting to mammals while
infecting them. It was also a feature of the 1918 pandemic virus, which was
a bird flu virus that adapted to humans.
News Is Not Good
Japanese health ministry has revealed that two teenage boys who took
Tamiflu subsequently exhibited abnormal behavior that led to their deaths. A
17-year-old boy took Tamiflu, then left home in his pajamas and jumped in
front of a truck. A 14-year-old boy fell from the ninth floor of his
apartment building after taking the drug.
In Japan the drug
carries a warning of possible impaired consciousness, abnormal behavior,
hallucinations, and other psychological and neurological symptoms. The
ministry is considering issuing a fresh warning….The Pharmaceuticals and
Medical Devices Agency said there were 64 cases of psychological disorders
linked to the drug between fiscal 2000 and 2004.
Chinese government says an eighth outbreak of bird flu within a month is
creating a "very serious situation" because the virus seems to be spreading.
Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute has found that the bird flu
virus strain H5N1 in the country has mutated to make it more dangerous.
Pigs Not Infected
Hunan provincial government has denied reports – for example,
here – that local
pigs have been infected with bird flu.
both confirmed new H5N1 outbreaks, while India investigates. The
“Authorities on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion say three tourists
who returned from a trip to Thailand may have contracted bird flu.” The
Vietnam News Agency reports that three Vietnamese pharmaceutical
companies are to begin producing Tamiflu.
Response in China and the US
The US Food
and Drug Administration has formed a
Response Team to ensure that anti-viral drugs are available in the event
of a flu pandemic. The Team will be able to fast-track a complete new drug
application in six to eight weeks.
Ministry of Agriculture has announced a new
rapid response policy for reporting
bird flu –
reported to provincial authorities within two hours; and, after
confirmation, the provincial veterinary bureau must report to the ministry
within an hour.
Russia, Romania and
Russia has confirmed an
outbreak of H5N1 flu at a far, south of Moscow. Romania has announced
its second bird flu outbreak.
has also confirmed a new H5N1 outbreak.