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Bird Flu - Archives


October 12th - October 13th, 2005

H5N1 Hits Europe (Almost)
The EU Commission has announced 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

Bird Flu in

Romania has confirmed the presence of H5 bird flu in dead ducks. Further tests are being carried out to determine if it is the deadly H5N1 virus.

October 13th, 2005

Myanmar – Bird Flu Black Hole?

Reuters has published an article speculating that Myanmar could become the breeding ground for a bird flu that mutates into a virus that infects humans and begins to spread globally. According to the article:


Officially, the H5N1 avian influenza strain that has killed millions of birds and scores of people across Asia since late 2003 has not landed in the former Burma, even though neighbouring China, Thailand and Laos have all had outbreaks. However, given the dearth of reliable information that comes out of Yangon, as well as the junta's dubious track record with the truth, many international observers are worried about a cover-up of potentially global significance…."Would they admit to it if it was here? That's the big question, since they deny everything left, right and center," said one Yangon-based diplomat.

October 13th, 2005


A Fifth Indonesian H5N1 Case

The World Health Organization has reported that another human case of H5N1 flu has been confirmed in Indonesia. The patient is in hospital in a stable condition. This brings to five the total number of confirmed Indonesian cases, with three deaths,

October 13th, 2005


Is More Selenium the Answer?

A Texas Tech University researcher Dr. Julian Spallholz has suggested that adding more selenium to the diets of Asian chickens would hinder the H5N1 virus from mutating into a more virulent form that could pass between humans.


Viral mutations are thought to emerge from selenium-deficient regions of the world, such as Africa, China and Southeast Asia. Selenium can be added, fairly easily and inexpensively, to animal feed as a supplement to help prevent the mutation of the bird flu virus. "A lot of these viral mutations that end up in the human population come from areas that probably have selenium-deficient soils," Spallholz said. "This is the natural melting pot for these viral evolutions that take place. Raising the levels of selenium may reduce the frequency of these viral mutations."

October 13th, 2005


Roche “Won’t Share Patent”

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Roche Holdings is not prepared to allow generic production of its Tamiflu anti-flu drug. This follows reports that public health officials in several countries are calling for the company to be forced to share the patent with other drug manufacturers, in order to ensure adequate supplies in the event of a major outbreak of bird flu.


Although Roche has increased production of Tamiflu eightfold in the past two years, it will take $16 billion and 10 years to make enough of the drug for 20 percent of the world's population, said Klaus Stohr, director of the World Health Organization's Global Influenza Program, in comments to reporters in San Francisco last week.

October 13th, 2005


Bird Flu Terrorism

Newsweek has published an online “Web Exclusive” titled “Bio-Katrina,” stating:


Over the last two weeks, the administration has held bird flu briefings classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” for members of both houses of Congress, according to intelligence and congressional officials. A counterterrorism official indicated that the intelligence community is also studying whether it would be possible for terrorists to somehow exploit the avian flu virus and use it against the United States, though there is no evidence that terrorists have in any way tried to do so.

October 13th, 2005


Turkey Faces “Prolonged Threat”

Reuters 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.

October 12th, 2005


Romania Culling, Bulgaria Testing

Romania is culling thousands of birds, following the discovery of flu antibodies in three farmyard ducks found dead late last month. Test results are expected shortly, and will reveal the type of flu. Bulgaria is testing three birds found dead in the north of the country.

October 12th, 2005


Believing in Fairy Tales

Reuters has published a pessimistic article about the chances of stopping a pandemic. Here are some quotes:


"To believe that you can contain this locally is to believe in fairy tales," said Mike Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota.


Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's assistant director-general for communicable diseases, told Britain's Times newspaper that cooperation had worsened since the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed about 800 people before it was contained. "That was a time when we were really working together as an international community of academics, politicians, public health experts. Everybody really was so focused," the newspaper quoted Chan as saying.


Even in advanced nations like the United States, little has been done to help provide even basic care for pandemic flu patients, the American College of Emergency Physicians said. "Many hospital emergency departments in this country are operating at, or over current capacity," said ACEP president Dr. Rick Blum. "We as a nation, have poured millions of dollars into preparedness, but virtually none of that has gone to the one place that is the true first response to something like a flu epidemic, or a hurricane, or a terrorist attack -- the nation's emergency departments."

October 12th, 2005


Colombia Too

Colombia has reported bird flu in chickens in Tolima state, in the country’s west. However, authorities say it is not the H5N1 strain.

October 12th, 2005


Tamiflu Generic Production Urged

Roche Holdings is reportedly under pressure to allow production of generic versions of its anti-flu drug Tamiflu. The reports say the company believes the drug is so complex that generic maker would struggle to produce significant quantities. This is contradicted by Taiwanese authorities, who believe they could begin manufacture within months of receiving permission.

October 12th, 2005