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Bird Flu - Archives


February 27th - March 11th, 2006

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 infected with H5N1. The implications are enormous.

March 11th, 2006


It Is Crazy That People Are Doing This
Now the 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.


George Rockingham, 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.

March 11th, 2006



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, including humans.”


Albania has confirmed its first case of H5N1. So has Serbia. Meanwhile, 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.

March 10th, 2006


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.''


Meanwhile, Director 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.

March 9th, 2006


Flu Patient Panics in Pakistan

A flu patient has fled a Pakistani hospital, for fear her relatives will assume she has bird flu:


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.

March 9th, 2006


Foie Gras – an Endangered Species

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 suffering.

March 9th, 2006


Bird Flu Threat to Beijing Olympics?

Last week came reports that bird flu in Germany could endanger this year’s soccer World Cup. Now a commentator is suggesting that the 2008 Beijing Olympics are in similar peril.

March 9th, 2006


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.


Reuters reports:


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.


….Animals carrying 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," Perdue said.


…."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," Perdue said.


If the virus circulated amongst cats, it could prove to be a "nightmare surveillance-wise," he added.

March 8th, 2006


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.
March 7th, 2006


It’s Spreading Fast

France 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 a sixth German state, and it is spreading in Romania.


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.


China has reported its ninth bird flu fatality.


Poland reported its first bird flu, though it is not yet confirmed as H5N1.


In the Ukraine, bird flu has been detected in the Odessa Zoo.

March 6th, 2006


Will Bird Flu Kill the World Cup?

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 - could be cancelled if bird flu starts to spread among humans.

March 4th, 2006

Bird Flu Hits European Poultry Farmers

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:


Germany's poultry 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 500,000 people.

March 4th, 2006


Cat Panic

The death of a cat in Germany from bird flu has sparked panic among cat owners in Europe. In Germany, 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 indoors.

March 3rd, 2006


February Round-Up

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.

March 2nd, 2006


Coming Soon – to a Flock near You

It is “just a matter of time” until bird flu infects wild birds in the US, and possibly poultry flocks as well, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt.

March 2nd, 2006


Now Pakistan and Sweden

Bird flu has been found in Pakistan and 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 Ethiopia.

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.


And Bloomberg says:


Scientists worry 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 the virus.


“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.

March 1st, 2006


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 denied that the virus has arrived in their country.

February 28th, 2006



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 massive 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 lose 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.

February 27th, 2006


Make Up Your Mind
What’s going on in Ireland? According to the Sunday Business Post:

The threat of bird flu is ‘‘being played up beyond any common-sense level’’, according to
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:


A bird flu pandemic is inevitable in Ireland, Health Minister and Tánaiste Mary Harney has admitted.

February 27th, 2006


Looking for the Next Tamiflu

Newsweek spotlights three 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 diseases.


- 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.

February 27th, 2006