Bird Flu - Archives
February 27th - March
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.
It Is Crazy That
People Are Doing This
British are dumping their pet birds, and bird flu hasn’t even arrived in
the country (yet). According to the
Norwich Evening News:
Budgies, chickens, pigeons and ducks have all been abandoned in the past
few weeks by people believing they might be at risk of contracting the
killer avian flu.
Sanctuary bosses have
warned pet owners they do not have the capacity to take more birds. However,
in just three weeks, 58 birds have been left at Hallswood sanctuary in
Stratton Strawless and even more chickens and cockerels at the PACT animal
sanctuary in Hingham. Two budgies died after being left at Hallswood last
Sunday in freezing conditions.
from PACT, said so far four cockerels had been dropped off at the roadside
and brought to his premises, but he expected a lot more.
“The problem is
ignorance,” Mr Rockingham said. “It is crazy that people are doing this
because they are worried about bird flu.
Bird flu has infected a
second mammal species
in Germany, a stone marten. Previously, it had been found in several cats.
WHO says that “Further investigation is needed to determine whether evidence
of H5N1 infection in new mammalian species has any significance for the risk
of human infection or the potential of this virus to adapt to mammals,
has confirmed its first case of H5N1. So has
Norway is testing some dead birds.
Disneyland Paris has denied reports that it is hushing up the discovery
of a dead swan on its grounds.
The London Chamber of
Commerce says a quarter of British businesses
could not survive a flu pandemic.
Bird Flu Will Hit US
This Year, Pandemic to Follow – UN Official’s Warning
US bird flu official
David Nabarro has said he expects migrating birds to bring
bird flu to Alaska this spring, and that within six months it will have
spread to the lower 48 states.
“There will be a
pandemic sooner or later,'' Nabarro said during a news conference today at
the UN. “It could start any time. We have a virus capable of replicating
inside humans. We have a virus that humans are not resistant to. We have a
virus about which we don't understand everything. It is at this stage of a
pandemic alert that we have the luxury of being able to be prepared.''
General Bernard Vallat of the Organisation for Animal Health has warned that
Australia, Canada and the US stand a “very high” risk of being
hit by H5N1.
Flu Patient Panics in
A flu patient has
fled a Pakistani hospital, for fear her relatives will assume she has
Dr Rizwan, registrar
of Jinnah Hospital Medical Ward 4, told Daily Times that Mrs Wajid was
admitted to the hospital on Saturday because of high fever and flu. He said
the doctors diagnosed Mrs Wajid with pneumonia. “We gave her antibiotics and
she started recovering. However, we decided to take her blood samples to
test her for bird flu because according to Mrs Wajid’s medical history her
maid Sughran had flu and rashes on her body when she returned from her
village,” said Dr Rizwan, adding that Mrs Wajid also had rashes on her body.
He said the family
had initially refused the doctors from taking Mrs Wajid’s blood samples but
later agreed on letting them do so. However, this incident was reported in a
section of the press. “The newspaper reported that Mrs Wajid might have
contracted the bird flu virus. This panicked the family and they left the
hospital,” Dr Rizwan said. He added that hospital authorities had sent Mrs
Wajid’s samples to the laboratory.
Dr Rizwan said Mrs
Wajid had started recovering when she left the hospital, adding that her
family did not wait for the tests’ result saying that they did not want
people to isolate them for having a bird flu patient. “Whether or not it is
bird flu, our neighbours, relatives and people will boycott us. It is better
that we leave the hospital rather than be treated in this way,” said Mazhar,
a hospital employee, quoting a member of Mrs Wajid’s family.
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
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.
The H5N1 Cat That Didn’t
Get Sick – Is This Bad News?
Scientists are concerned
that a cat in Austria has tested positive for H5N1 but has not developed any
flu symptoms. This, they say, could mean the virus is adapting to mammals.
Michael Perdue, a
scientist with the WHO's global influenza programme, said more studies were
needed on infections in cats, including how they shed the virus.
…."We have to
follow-up with laboratory studies to see if it (the virus) changed
genetically and is not causing clinical signs," Perdue told Reuters.
"If it is true, it
would imply the virus has changed significantly," he said.
H5N1 without showing any signs of ill health could make it harder to detect
and contain bird flu. The longer the virus remains dormant in a mammal,
without it getting sick or dying, the greater the risk of it also mutating
into a more dangerous form.
"The longer it stays
in mammals one would assume it is more likely to be adapted to mammals, as
opposed to staying in birds. If the virus obtains all the mutations needed
to transmit easily between mammals it could imply higher risk to humans,"
…."There is still not
any indication of cat to human transmission. That would change everything,
or if the virus started circulating among cats it would be problematic,"
If the virus
circulated amongst cats, it could prove to be a "nightmare
surveillance-wise," he added.
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.
It’s Spreading Fast
seems to be worst-affected of the Western European countries reporting bird
flu. It has now spread to the Mediterranean coast. The government has
expanded the country’s protection zones from 70 towns to 300.
Bird flu has arrived in
German state, and it is spreading in
As the annual spring
migration of birds looms nearer, scientists fear that H5N1 is set to enter
the Americas via
Alaska, and have established a $29 million surveillance network.
has reported its ninth bird flu fatality.
reported its first bird flu, though it is not yet confirmed as H5N1.
Ukraine, bird flu has been detected in the Odessa Zoo.
Will Bird Flu Kill the
IranMania website reports that Germany's bird flu outbreak has spread to
the city of Friedrichshafen, where the Iranian soccer squad plans to hold a
World Cup training camp in late May. Earlier, world football boss Sepp
Blatter suggested that the World Cup -scheduled for June -
cancelled if bird flu starts to spread among humans.
March 4th, 2006
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
Wow, what a month
February turned out to be. No fewer than 13 countries reported their first
H5N1 outbreak. In order of reporting, they were: Nigeria, Azerbaijan,
Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Iran, Austria, Germany, Egypt, India,
France and Niger.
A second person was
confirmed dead in Iraq. In China, four additional cases of human infection
were reported, including one death. And Indonesia reported eight new cases,
six of them fatal.
Since late 2003, a total
of 174 cases of human infection have been reported in seven countries –
Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. There have
been 94 deaths.
Coming Soon – to a Flock
It is “just a matter of
bird flu infects wild birds in the US, and possibly poultry flocks as
well, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.
Now Pakistan and Sweden
Bird flu has been found
Sweden, though in both cases it is not yet known if it is the H5N1
strain. And “flu-like” symptoms have been found in 49 dead chickens in
Germany a cat has died from bird flu, after apparently eating an
infected bird. Authorities say there have been no documented cases of bird
flu moving from cats to humans.
To compound it all, the
International Herald Tribune says:
Just after new
scientific research clarified the role of wild birds in spreading H5N1 out
of its original territory in southern China, the virus promptly moved into
dozens of locations in Europe and Africa, following no apparent pattern and
underlining how little scientists actually know.
avian flu is taking root in Africa, where it threatens to infect humans as
it has in southern Asia and China. Once the virus takes hold in Africa, it
risks mutating into a lethal form that may spread easily among people,
creating a global health catastrophe.
“The first pandemic
of the 21st century could come from Africa, rather than Southeast Asia,''
John Oxford, professor of virology at Queen Mary's School of Medicine and
Dentistry at the University of London, said in a telephone interview. Oxford
said Africa's poverty, densely populated urban and farm areas, intermingling
of people and chickens, and poor health services create a fertile ground for
“If it gets itself
rooted there, it will be even more difficult to get it out than Southeast
Asia,'' said Oxford, who has studied influenza viruses for 40 years.
Third African Country
Hit – Egypt, Nigeria, and Now Niger
Bird flu has
jumped the border from Nigeria to Niger. Meanwhile, in Nigeria a poultry
producers group says the
disease is spreading there, because farmers are reluctant to notify the
authorities of outbreaks. Poultry farmers in Ghana have
the virus has arrived in their country.
And now we’re hearing
talk again – from several sources – of a looming bird flu pandemic.
In China, agriculture
minister Du Qinglin told the Standing Committee of the National People's
Congress that “in view of the current situation, the possibility of a
bird flu outbreak could not be ruled out."
Meanwhile, a lengthy
commentary in the International Herald Tribune warns:
Despite the commitment of billions of dollars to the fight against
pandemic influenza, the world may
the battle against avian flu, for lack of an effective strategy. Much of
the money - nearly $4 billion from
U.S. taxpayers, alone -
is being spent inappropriately.
Make Up Your Mind
What’s going on in Ireland? According to the Sunday Business Post:
threat of bird flu is ‘‘being played up beyond any common-sense level’’,
John Brady, chairman of
Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) free range eggs committee.
Brady said Irish
farmers were prepared to take any necessary measures to protect their flocks
if bird flu reached Ireland, but he said that an outbreak of bird flu here
was ‘‘very unlikely’’.
Tell that to the health
authorities. The Irish Examiner reports bluntly:
bird flu pandemic is inevitable in Ireland, Health Minister and Tánaiste
Mary Harney has admitted.
Looking for the Next
novel treatments that could prove effective against bird flu:
- Fludase from
NexBio Inc. temporarily disables receptors in the nasal passages and airways
that the flu virus latches onto.
- DNA vaccines
are a novel type of vaccine that could one day be useful against many
- Ampligen from
Hemispherx Biopharma helps the body boost its production of inter-feron, a
crucial component of the immune response—and one that appears to plummet in
patients with avian flu.