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Bird Flu - Archives


February 15th - February 25th, 2006

Weekend Bird Flu Update

France reports a probable outbreak at a large turkey farm in the country’s east.


WHO reports a third possible case of human infection in Iraq.


The Egyptian government says it has contained the outbreak in Egypt.


An Australian expert says a lack of funding and expertise in Indonesia is increasing the risk of a global human pandemic.


The H5N1 virus is confirmed in Slovakia, and suspected in Georgia.


Officials in South Korea say four poultry workers were infected with bird flu more than two years ago, but never became ill.

February 25th, 2006


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.

February 24th, 2006


Australia Next?

Once bird flu reaches Papua New Guinea it will quickly move to Australia, according to a WHO official.


Two professors say it has already arrived.

February 24th, 2006


Website Says Two Indians Test Positive for Bird Flu

Is this right? I can find it reported only on the DNA India website:


Your worst fears are set to come true. The government says the avian flu infection may have been transferred to humans, and a few cases under observation are showing signs of the virus.


With two of the 12 people kept under observation in isolation wards testing positive for avian influenza, the focus shifts from birds to humans. Both cases are from Navapur block in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district.


All 12 patients, including six children, have infections of the upper respiratory tract and a history of poultry deaths in their backyard farms. Besides, all were in contact with possibly infected poultry.


The patients had been quarantined and put on Tamiflu. But the drug is effective only if taken within 48 hours of infection, and it is feared that the window was already shut in these cases.

February 23rd, 2006


Bollywood to Help Fight Bird Flu

The Hindu Business Line reports:


THE poultry industry plans to add a dash of glamour to the avian flu-hit sector by launching various campaign programmes across the country. For this, Bollywood is also expected to be roped in.


…The campaign programme, which is being chalked out, will carry different flavours in different parts of the country. The campaign's main attraction would be food melas, where chicken and egg would be cooked and "eaten in the same venue, so that people are made aware that they no longer need to fear the flu."

February 23rd, 2006


Egyptians Stock up on Water

Bottled water has disappeared from shop shelves in Cairo after panic buying. Rumors are spreading that chickens affected with bird flu have been dumped in the Nile River and in Cairo’s water reservoirs.

February 23rd, 2006


Anger in India

The BBC reports fear and confusion in Mumbai about the bird flu outbreak 400 kilometres to the north of the city:

Most traders are upset that no one seems to emphasise that chicken and eggs are apparently safe after being cooked well, so there is no danger from eating them.


They also say the government is sending out mixed signals, telling people that eating chicken is safe on one hand while allowing state-run aircraft and railways to stop serving it on board on the other, which does not help their cause.


Poultry business has dropped by anywhere from 70% to 90% and traders say they might not last long if this continues.

February 22nd, 2006


It’s Difficult to Get Bird Flu

The latest advisory from the Word Health Organization provides a useful summary of our present knowledge on how to avoid bird flu:

For human health, experience elsewhere over the past two years has shown that the greatest risk of cases arises when the virus becomes established in small backyard flocks, which allow continuing opportunities for close human contact, exposures, and infections to occur.


All available evidence indicates that the virus does not spread easily from poultry to humans. To date, very few cases have been detected in poultry workers, cullers, or veterinarians. Almost all cases have been linked to close contact to diseased household flocks, often during slaughtering, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for consumption.


No cases have been linked to the consumption of properly cooked poultry meat or eggs, even in households where disease was known to be present in flocks.

February 22nd, 2006


Don’t Chicken Out

Bloomberg News looks at bird flu and the stock market (with the headline: “Avian flu? No Time to chicken out”):


Now that bird flu outbreaks have driven down poultry exports and caused prices in the United States to plunge to a 19-year low, investors like Brian Barish at the Cambiar Investors are buying shares of Tyson Foods, one of the country's biggest poultry companies.


Barish said the stock may jump 71 percent this year as the disease is contained, leading to a rally of U.S. producers like Sanderson Farms and Pilgrim's Pride.


"Avian flu is in the headlines now, but it will not continue," said Barish, who holds 7.8 million shares of Tyson. "The upside is gigantic."

February 22nd, 2006


Ravens Protected

Reuters reports:


In London, the famous ravens at the Tower of London were brought inside to protect them from bird flu. Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower, where the Crown Jewels are stored, the Kingdom will fall.

February 22nd, 2006


"There Is a Lot About This That We Just Don't Know"

The best summary of what’s happening right now comes in this excellent New York Times report. Here’s how it begins:


The first reports of bird flu that cropped up in recent days in widely separated countries — India, Egypt and France — highlighted the disease's accelerating spread to new territories.


International health experts have been predicting widespread dissemination of the disease for about half a year, since they concluded that it could be spread by migrating birds. But the recent acceleration has perplexed many experts, who had watched the A(H5N1) virus stick to its native ground in Asia for nearly five years.


The most alarming of the current outbreaks, if only for sheer size, were the two widely separated episodes of avian flu in India, one of which has killed 50,000 birds in poultry flocks in the last few days. The Indian government, which has long been on alert for the virus because that country is on many migration paths in Asia, began killing half a million birds in the hopes of quashing the outbreaks, officials announced Sunday.


But the most perplexing report involved the single case in France — a wild duck found dead in the suburbs of Lyon — because migratory birds from Asia that carry the virus do not normally travel there at this time of year.


"After several years in one place, why is it now moving so rapidly?" asked Dr. Samuel Jutzi, director of the Animal Production and Health Division at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. "There is a lot about this that we just don't know."


In other developments:


Malaysia has reported its first bird flu outbreak since November 2004.

Gaza - the Palestinian Health Ministry has declared a state of emergency following the mystery deaths of 600 chickens.


India – “Bird flu has entire country on red alert,” reports ExpressIndia. The Maharashtra government has placed a mother and child, plus three babies, under quarantine for suspected bird flu, and 30 others are being tested. Share prices for companies in the poultry, egg and hospitality businesses have fallen; shares in Cipla (generic Tamiflu maker) and other drug companies are up. Stung by criticism that they declared a bird flu outbreak before all the evidence was in, health officials have released details of how cautious they were.


Germany – Reuters reports that “Tornado reconnaissance warplanes and soldiers in biohazard suits were deployed to prevent the spread of bird flu after H5N1 reached the mainland. Sixty soldiers clad in disease protection suits and gas masks disinfected vehicles on the Baltic island of Ruegen where the virus was found in swans.”

February 21st, 2006


Here’s Something to Keep You Awake at Night

From a letter to Britain’s Daily Telegraph (scroll down, third letter):

I shall be losing no sleep over a bird flu "pandemic". However, for those of you who like to have something to worry about, consider this: over 3000 people die per year in the world from falling out of bed. Now that is a REAL fact you can lose sleep over.

February 21st, 2006


Latest Developments

No new outbreaks reported in the past 24 hours. So here’s a brief summary of what appears to be the latest news:


Egypt – Bird flu has been detected in three localities, including Cairo. Authorities have closed Cairo Zoo after reportedly discovering bird flu among some of the birds there.


India – India is culling 900,000 birds. The Statesman newspaper reports that a “blame game” has begun over who is responsible for India’s bird flu outbreak. The Times of India says most of the country’s hospitals “have no clue” about how to treat the outbreak. A leading virologist says the government must investigate whether the disease was “deliberately introduced” to India. India’s National Egg Coordination Committee continues to deny that bird flu has been detected. It claims a conspiracy by drug companies, trying to market their vaccines.


France – Agriculture Minister Dominique Bussereau has told the French: “Eat chicken.”

February 20th, 2006


It’s Everywhere! Update III

France confirmed.


India too, with eight possible human victims. (Though the National Egg Co-ordination Committee says it's just a seasonal poultry disease that occurs every year in early summer.) UPDATE: First human bird flu death in India?


Two new cases in Austria, near Vienna.


Hong Kong finds its ninth infected bird in three weeks.


Indonesia announces another death, its 19th.

February 19th, 2006


It’s Everywhere! Part II

Bird flu has arrived in France. Officials are 90% sure it’s H5N1.


Egypt is reporting many cases.


Bird flu has spread to another district of Azerbaijan, a local TV channel reported.


Bird flu has been found in 31 villages in Romania since October, and WHO has warned that unsanitary conditions could mean Romania might claim Europe’s first human victims.


The Iraqi Health Ministry has confirmed the country’s second bird flu death.


Bosnia reported its first suspected case.


Greece is organizing tests on three new suspected cases of bird flu in swans.


Bird flu outbreaks have been reported at two poultry farms in Southern Russia.


Veterinary officials in Holland are testing two dead swans for H5N1.


Britain is bracing itself, as the bird flu edges nearer across the Continent. Spain is also getting ready.

February 18th, 2006


Learn How to Bury Your Dead

Reuters reports from a conference in the US on how to prepare for a bird flu pandemic:


When burying a body in the backyard, don't put it too close to the septic system. That was one piece of advice offered on Wednesday to a business conference on preparing for a potentially lethal bird flu pandemic.


Preparations for a global flu pandemic, which many experts believe is overdue, have begun but the grisly details are horrific and the number of sick could quickly overwhelm the health care system.


…In Seattle, public health officials are weighing the ramifications of hospitals overwhelmed by hundreds of thousands of sick people and the need for thousands of body bags.


"We talk about how people should bury their dead in their backyards, how far from the septic systems," said Dorothy Teeter, director of the King County public health department in Seattle. "In case you're wondering, it's $20 apiece for high-quality body bags. In New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) they had to double-bag bodies."

February 17th, 2006


Emergency Measures

The discovery of bird flu in five EU countries - Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Germany – has triggered 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.

February 16th, 2006


It’s Everywhere!

H5N1 has been found in wild swans in Austria, Iran and Bulgaria. New H5 cases have been discovered in Romania, with further tests being carried out to learn if it is H5N1.

Germany too.

In Greece another infected bird – a wild goose - has been found.


“It does look like bird flu is coming,” says a bird expert in Finland.


Health officials in Indonesia say tests show a local man who died last week was infected with the bird flu virus.


In Nigeria, the Vanguard newspaper tells its readers: “MOVE over malaria, step aside HIV/AIDS, avian flu is here!”


In Italy a truck driver killed his wife and child with a hammer and slit his own throat after losing his job delivering chickens because poultry sales fell on consumers' fear of bird flu.

February 15th, 2006


Kimchi Air Conditioner

LG Electronics in South Korea has begun selling a new air conditioner equipped with a filter made out of kimchi – a pickled cabbage dish - that it claims destroys the bird flu virus.


The new air conditioner filters the air through a chemical mix that includes an enzyme extracted from kimchi, which is reportedly capable of eliminating the H5N1 virus.


Read “Will Kimchi Cure Bird Flu?” for more.

February 15th, 2006