Bird Flu - Archives
Questions in Turkey
fatality rate among Turkish sufferers of avian influenza is triggering
questions about the virulence of the virus. The possibility that the H5N1
virus might "trade" some of its virulence for increased levels of
transmission has sparked hope that an eventual human-to-human
avian-influenza pandemic may be no more dangerous than the annual seasonal
scientists have raised the possibility that this may be beginning to happen
already, citing the Turkish avian-flu statistics as an example. Others are
not so sure. In Southeast Asia, where bird flu first emerged, the death toll
from the disease hovers around 50 percent. In Turkey, however, there have
been only four deaths from a suspected 21 -- 12 confirmed -- cases of avian
influenza, or a death rate of between 20 percent and 35 percent.
Cihan news agency
reports, without further elaboration, that “the
World Health Organization on Monday expressed puzzlement at the young age of
bird flu victims in Turkey during the recent outbreak of the virus in the
Turkey’s bird flu
outbreak is no longer much in the news, and it appears that that’s good
news. But concerns remain. As
Director-General, Lee Jong-Wook, notes,
in Turkey was unique.
He says the
appearance of human cases of avian influenza in that country was unexpected.
This is different from Asia where outbreaks of the H5N1 virus were detected
in poultry well before the virus occurred in humans.
The WHO Chief says
there was almost no prior warning of infection in poultry in the eastern
part of Turkey.
experience demonstrates the dangers posed by avian influenza in birds and
the vital importance of surveillance and effective early warning systems,"
said Dr. Lee. "It also reiterates the threat of a pandemic of influenza in
humans. A pandemic could arise with little or no warning from the animal
January 24th, 2006
down 90% in Turkey in the wake of the bird flu outbreak, according to
Reuters, and poultry farmers are suffering:
"We can hardly sell
any eggs. People are scared to buy eggs and poultry," Ahmet Sisman, the
owner of the Buyuk Sismanlar egg production company, said on Wednesday at
his farm housing some 300,000 egg-laying chickens in the Cubuk area, 40 km
northeast of the capital Ankara.
customers cannot pay us back, but we have to feed our chickens. We can feed
our poultry for the next week or 10 days, but if the situation remains
unchanged and nobody buys our eggs, then we won't be able to feed our
chickens any more. It is not like just shutting down a manufacturing
factory," he complained.
…"After news of the
first human deaths from bird flu in the east of the country, our sales came
to a virtual halt. Now we sell only 10 percent of what we used to trade
before," Yusuf Zafar Kaya, Vice-President of the Turkish Association of Egg
Producers (TAEP), said. "The consumers are afraid to buy our product because
of a lack of awareness. This is despite the fact that eggs and poultry from
organised farms do not pose any health threat and all safety measures in the
production facilities are strictly followed," he said.
More Cases Expected, But Situation Improving
The World Health
Organisation (WHO) said on Monday it expected more human cases of bird flu
following the death of four people in Turkey, but said the risks to humans
were steadily diminishing.
…"We do expect to see
some (more) cases because it takes time before the virus in birds has
completely disappeared," Dr. Guenael Rodier, who heads the WHO mission to
Turkey and is an expert in communicable diseases, told Reuters in an
interview. "We know that the risk remains with close interaction between
people and birds but we believe it is going down daily."
excellent report in the Financial Times suggests that Turkish
winning the bird flu battle. One interesting statistic:
The greatest source
of comfort for [Health Ministry official] Dr [Mehmet
amid the turmoil and dislocation of the outbreak is that the death rate
among people in Turkey from infection by H5N1 is much lower than in
southeast Asia – 16.6 per cent against 58 per cent (his calculations). “The
outbreak is coming down from the peak point, but we cannot be certain about
what will happen next. For the moment, this is not an epidemic,” he says.
fascinating first-hand account of the Turkish situation, read the
blog from AP reporter Benjamin Harvey.
development, The Guardian reports that an analysis of the Turkish
victims is leading scientists to believe they may have found
more effective treatment for the H5N1 strain of the virus.
Bird Flu – Mutating?
quoting the Turkish Ministry of Health, says there have now been
cases of human bird flu infection in the country, with three fatalities.
says that the European Union has
Turkey for its “transparency and cooperation over bird flu but advised
neighboring states to step up surveillance to stop the disease spreading.”
The Reuters report also includes a useful summary of bird flu issues around
Britain’s Evening Standard newspaper reports that British scientists
examining viruses from two of the Turkish fatalities fear that the H5N1 bird
flu is “mutating
towards a form adapted to humans.”
Update - UN Agencies at Odds?
been no new news out of Turkey for a couple of days. However, it seems that
two United Nations agencies are at odds over the situation.
On the one
World Health Organization is urging calm, and stressing that the problem
has been well-managed:
Speaking at a news
conference in Ankara, the WHO's regional director for Europe, Marc Danzon,
said there was "no reason to panic" and warned that fear would "only cause a
"The situation [in
Turkey] has been taken seriously from the beginning," he said. "From the WHO
point of view, we are working easily with the health ministry and there is
transparency.”The reaction in the country has been appropriate, and the
management of the crisis is at the level where it should be. The ministry is
doing everything that is known to maintain and manage this difficult
there is also this:
"The virus may be
spreading despite the control measures already taken," Juan Lubroth, senior
animal health officer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
told the Associated Press.
"Far more human and
animal exposure to the virus will occur if strict containment does not
isolate all known and unknown locations where the bird flu virus is
currently present," said Lubroth.
pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 could become endemic in Turkey," said
a statement by the FAO.
Turkey – No
More News Is Very Good News
than 24 hours the number of confirmed human bird flu cases in Turkey has
remained at 15.
Independent reported that “Turkish authorities were trying to
reassure the world it had the outbreak of bird flu under control,” while
Britain’s Channel 4
quoted a WHO official as stating that
"I have a sense that what is going on in Turkey can be
...brought under control relatively easily.”
And the New
York Times has
a fascinating report:
Two young brothers,
ages 4 and 5, who have tested positive for the dreaded H5N1 avian virus,
were being closely watched at Kecioren Hospital here today, although neither
has exhibited any symptoms of the disease.
Doctors are unsure
whether they are seeing for the first time human bird flu in its earliest
stages, or if they are newly discovering that infection with the dreaded
H5N1 virus does not always lead to illness.
In any case, the
highly unusual cluster of five cases detected here in Turkey's capital over
the last three days - all traceable to contact with sick birds - is
challenging some of the doctors' assumptions about bird flu and giving them
new insights into how it spreads and causes disease.
Since none of the five
have died, it is raising the possibility that human bird flu is not as
deadly as currently thought, and that many mild cases may have gone
The Independent has also reported that:
governments sprayed disinfectant over lorries from Turkey. In Italy, a
consumer group urged a ban on travel to Turkey, and in Greece, veterinary
inspectors stepped up border checks. Neighbouring Bulgaria issued advice on
how to cope.
New cases in the Black
Sea provinces of Kastamonu, Corum and Samsun, near the capital Ankara, have
experts to fear “a westward march by the virus towards Europe. The virus
first surfaced in Van, about 1,000 kilometres farther east.”
World Health Organization,
which is generally cautious in confirming bird flu outbreaks, has announced
that 14 cases of human infection have been detected in the country,
including two deaths. WHO officials have said there is
no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
newswire Zaman Online carries
Prior to the
announcement of bird flu cases at the beginning of January, it was
determined the virus was actually first detected in the laboratories of the
Agriculture Ministry on December 9. A ministry statement on the same day
denied the existence of the disease in Turkey.
Also on the same day,
the ministry's Veterinary Control Research Institute Directorate kept secret
the autopsy records of suspect chickens, turkeys, and geese. These birds, it
was confirmed, were infected with the bird flu virus. In different samples
received from laboratories in Erzurum, Kars, Erzincan, and Agri in November,
the bird flu virus was also detected. The data was recorded in laboratory
reports on December 9-10.
Twenty five days
after confirmation of the new diagnosis, Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker
stated, "There is no bird flu in Turkey."
In other developments,
closed its Turkish border crossing, and Russian officials are advising
against holidaying in Turkey.
governor of Ankara has announced that two children and an adult in the
Turkish capital have
tested positive for H5N1 bird flu. It seems the unofficial count of
in the country is now nine. There are also
in Istanbul. Altogether, the flu has been reported in
10 of the
country’s 81 provinces, says the New York Times, and health
officials say they now believe the disease has been “simmering” in the east
of the country for several months.
to the New York Times article:
cluster of cases in Turkey is extraordinary and concerning, scientists said.
In all of East Asia, where the disease has been running rampant in birds for
years, only about 140 people have ever become infected and there has never
been this kind of grouping.
Scientists are exploring various theories to explain the Turkish clusters,
including biological changes in the virus and behavioral risks. "When the
temperatures drop below zero - as they do frequently around Van in the
winter - people may be more likely to bring the chickens indoors and that
could increase exposure," Ms. Cheng said. "That's not something we'd expect
in Vietnam, where it’s much warmer."
third child has died
in Eastern Turkey of bird flu, and at least
23 others in the
region – mainly children - are in hospital, one of them in critical
condition. Clinical Microbiology Foundation President Professor Haluk
Eraksoy has stated that
more deaths may
occur. Reuters reports that
has been detected in ducks near the capital Ankara, and comments:
suggests migratory birds may be spreading the disease across the large
country, as experts had warned. Bird flu first surfaced in Turkey last
October in a corner of western Turkey near the Sea of Marmara, further west
than Nallihan, but authorities declared that infected area clear of the
disease last month after imposing quarantine measures.
January 7th, 2006
news service NTV MSNBC reports that a further six people have been
hospitalized in the town of Aralik – where two bird flu deaths have already
occurred - with bird
flu-like symptoms. Altogether, 15 people in eastern Turkey have been
hospitalized with the symptoms, according to the report. An official WHO
announcement says 11
people have been hospitalized. The Turkish cases bring the number of
countries reporting human infection to six, with a total of 144 cases.
Bird Flu Confirmed in Humans
Health Minister has confirmed
two cases of bird
flu human infection. One patient – a 14-year-old boy - has died, and his
sister is seriously ill. A third sibling is showing bird flu symptoms. The
family live and work on a poultry farm, in the east of the country, near the
Fears in Turkey
boy has died after
eating chicken, and three siblings are sick. Tests for bird flu are
being undertaken. Turkey has previously experienced H5N1 outbreaks, but has
not previously reported human infection.
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
Faces “Prolonged Threat”
reports that Turkey
faces a prolonged threat from bird flu, as it lies in the flight path of
birds migrating between Asia and Europe. Over the weekend, Turkish
authorities confirmed an outbreak of avian flu on a farm near the Aegean
Sea, in the country’s north-west. The strain of flu has yet to be
determined. The European Commission
has banned the import to the European Union of all live birds and
feathers from Turkey.