Bird Flu - Archives
Bird Flu Coming Back?
Bird flu could
hit Europe again this winter:
Bird flu may return to Europe in the coming weeks, spread by wild ducks,
swans and geese carrying the lethal virus south from their Arctic mating
Twenty-six European nations reported initial infections of the H5N1 avian
influenza strain in poultry or wild birds in late 2005 and early 2006 after
a severe winter in Russia and the Caucasus area pushed migratory birds south
and westward. The Food and Agriculture Organization said a resurgence of
H5N1 in China and Russia indicates the pattern may be repeated.
``It is possible that a similar situation could occur in the approaching
weeks with the migratory movement of wild birds from their northern breeding
grounds,'' the United Nations agency said in the October edition of a
newsletter published on its Web site. ``Eastern Europe and Caucasus region
is at particularly high risk'' because of the higher density of backyard
October 26th, 2006
Bird Flu - Get Used to It
Europeans should get used to a seasonal pattern of bird flu affecting
poultry as the lethal H5N1 strain of the disease is highly likely to
reappear in the near future, a senior EU health official said on Friday.
Meanwhile, bird flu is confirmed in
July 8th, 2006
Europe – Where’s the
New York Times, in a lengthy report, notices that – contrary to many
expectations - migrating birds have not brought the bird flu virus to Europe
officials had feared that the disease was likely to spread to Africa during
the winter migration and return to Europe with a vengeance during the
reverse migration this spring. That has not happened…
"It is quiet now in
terms of cases, which is contrary to what many people had expected," said
Ward Hagemeijer, an avian influenza specialist with Wetlands International,
an environmental group based in the Netherlands that studies migratory
In thousands of
samples collected in Africa this winter, H5N1 was not detected in a single
wild bird, officials and scientists said. In Europe, there have been only a
handful of cases detected in wild birds since April 1, at the height of the
The number of cases
in Europe has decreased so dramatically compared to February, when dozens of
new cases were found daily, that experts believe the northward spring
migration played no role. There was one grebe in Denmark on April 28 — the
last case — as well as a falcon in Germany and a few swans in France,
according to the World Organization for Animal Health, based in Paris.
…"Is it like Y2K,
where also nothing happened?" asked Juan Lubroth, a senior veterinary
official at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome,
referring to the expected computer failures as the year 1999 turned to 2000.
"Perhaps it is because it was not as bad as we feared, or perhaps it is
because people took the right measures."
Still, he and others
say, the lack of wild bird cases in Europe only underscores how little is
understood about the virus.
Foie Gras – an
It’s not just regular
poultry sales that are being hurt by the European bird flu outbreak.
Associated Press reports that
foie gras and duck a l’orange are among the delicacies that are also
Three More Cats
Europe went into a panic when a cat in Germany was found to have bird
flu. What’s going to happen now that
three cats in Austria are also found to have the disease? And
Poland confirms that H5N1 has arrived.
Bird Flu Hits European
Forty million Euros ($48
million) per month – that’s what the new
bird flu panic
is costing the French poultry industry. The BBC reports that other European
countries are also suffering:
industry has seen demand drop 20% due to bird flu.
It estimates that the
sector has lost more than 140m euros since last autumn.
In Hungary, poultry
producers said their sales had also fallen by 20% since the deadly H5N1
virus was first found there in dead swans on 21 February.
The overall European
poultry industry has a turnover of about 20bn euros each year, producing 11
million tonnes of meat.
It employs more than
The death of a cat in
Germany from bird flu has sparked panic among cat owners in Europe. In
owners of cats near infected areas have been ordered to keep them
indoors, and dogs are to be kept on leashes. The
German animal welfare society reports that hundreds of cat owners have
dumped their pets.
Greek health authorities are advising cat owners living near wetlands to
keep their pet indoors. The
French animal protection society, SPA, has been “bombarded with calls”
from panic-stricken cat owners, some of whom have dumped their pets.
We are getting calls
from cat owners wanting to know if there are risks," said Serge Belais, the
society's president. "People are panicking."
He had no numbers of
abandoned cats but said: "The risk is that we'll see the deluge in the days
or weeks to come."
…Mr Belais said the
SPA was urging the government to stop French mayors over-reacting with
"disproportionate and useless" operations to round up and destroy stray
cats. The risk of infection was minimal but he advised owners to keep cats
11 Of 12 Indian Bird Flu
Suspects Cleared; But EU Trembles
Reuters reports that Indian authorities have cleared 11 of the 12 people
who were quarantined following the country’s H5N1 outbreak.
However, the same report
talks of great nervousness in France and Germany, where authorities are
awaiting the results of tests of suspected H5N1 at poultry farms.
Poultry producers in
France have estimated a 30 percent fall in sales due to bird flu has cost
them 130 million euros since November and the government announced the
sector would receive 52 million euros in aid to deal with the crisis.
No EU farm birds have
yet been confirmed to have the virus but health experts, including at the
WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say it is
almost inevitable the virus will spread from wild birds to poultry flocks.
Europe is preparing
for more cases of H5N1 as the spring migration season approaches and new
species, possibly already infected, arrive from Africa, EU Health and
Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told Reuters.
"It's a concern,
because now we have the virus in Africa. Spring migration of birds coming
from the south to Europe poses a risk," Kyprianou said.
The discovery of bird
flu in five EU countries - Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Germany –
emergency measures, reports The Scotsman.
They involve a halt
to poultry movements in the affected region, the setting up of a
three-kilometre (1.8 mile) protection zone around the area where the swans
were found, and a surrounding "surveillance zone" a further seven kilometres
(4.3 miles) deep.
Experts on the EU's
Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health will begin two days
of talks to see what further steps, if any, can be taken to control a
disease being spread by migratory birds.
Europe Good, Africa Bad?
There’s quite a strong
case to be made that the discovery of bird flu in Italy and Greece is a good
thing. The reason? Given bird migration patterns, it was pretty inevitable
that H5N1 would arrive in Western Europe, and its quick detection shows that
systems are working to protect farmers, consumers and the general
In contrast, the
discovery of the flu in Nigeria suggests that H5N1 has been rampant on the
continent for some months.
New York Times sums it up:
The discovery of the
Italian outbreak seemed to be a model of early detection, underlining how
bird flu can be controlled in countries that have the money and the
scientific resources to do it.
Outbreaks in poor
countries like Nigeria, Turkey and Iraq percolated for months before they
were discovered, allowing the virus to spread widely to commercial chicken
flocks and even to humans.
…"There is no
immediate danger for our country," Mauro Delogu, an Italian virologist at
the University of Bolgona, told ANSA, "because our system of surveillance is
efficient and has not contaminated bird farms."
Concerning Nigeria, that
country’s Vanguard newspaper presents a
fascinating interview with Emmanuel Ijewere, formerly president of the
Red Cross of Nigeria and now retired and running a poultry (and other meat)
He explains in
considerable detail why Nigeria is ill-prepared to combat a major bird flu
outbreak, or other kind of emergency. One of his examples:
in Nigeria is almost zap. If there is a major disaster in Nigeria, we
wouldn’t be able to cope. In Lagos, in particular, the fire brigade that was
set up at independence still exists today. But, how many vehicles do they
have? And they have been honest enough to say if your building is above
three floors and there is fire, you are on your own. Because their hoses
cannot get there, even when it gets there, they do not have water….So, there
is this whole problem of lack of preparedness. God forbid, if anyone of us
should have fire in the house, you must put it out by yourself. Because, if
he is going to wait for the fire brigade, the fire would have consumed the
place before they arrive, and when they arrive they will do nothing. We are
all on our own. There is no preparedness, we need to address that, it’s very
Not Looking Too Bad
magazine contains some of the best reports on the developing bird flu story.
The latest is a round-up of news from Europe. Despite scares this week in
several countries, including Portugal and Sweden, the magazine is generally
optimistic that the continent will not suffer greatly.
Most of the 121
people known to have caught the virus so far in Asia were living with,
killing, plucking or eating infected poultry. Relatively few Europeans do
that, so there are likely to be far fewer human infections. "The threat of a
pandemic hasn't increased significantly as a result of recent developments"
in Europe, says Angus Nicoll of the European Center for Disease Prevention
And because the means
to contain outbreaks quickly exist in Europe, fewer poultry are likely to be
infected. "Europe is in an excellent position to prevent the virus from
getting a foothold," said Gudjon Magnusson of the World Health Organization,
after talks on the situation this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Age newspaper reports that an
outbreak of bird flu in Romania is H5N1, according to the Romanian state
H5N1 Hits Europe
The EU Commission
that the bird flu confirmed recently in Turkey is the H5N1 strain. The flu
was found in birds in the north-west of the country,
so the virus has still been confined to Asia.
However, "EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said the assumption was
that a bird flu outbreak in Romania would also prove to be the H5N1 type.
Tests are continuing."
October 13th, 2005