Archived news about Bird Flu (Avian Influenza) in June 200530-06-05
Vietnam raises compensation for bird-flu culls
Vietnam, the country hit hardest by bird flu, has increased compensation for farmers whose infected poultry are being culled in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, officials said Tuesday.
Farmers will be paid an average of 15,000 dong (US$0.95; Â€0.78) for each bird killed, up from 10,000 dong (US$0.63; Â€0.52), under a decision signed by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
The compensation applies to the period between Dec. 1, 2004, to Dec. 31, 2005.
"The raise aims at lessening the losses of farmers and also encouraging them to cooperate with the government in the fight against bird flu," said Bui Quang Anh, director of the Animal Health Department.
Authorities had discovered instances of farmers selling sick poultry to markets, because the compensation had been only a third of the birds' market value.
Bird flu killed or forced the culling of about 45 million birds since it ravaged poultry farms across Vietnam in late 2003.
It jumped to humans, killing 38 in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four from Cambodia.
Most of the bird flu cases had been traced to contact with sick birds.
Medical experts fear the virus may mutate into a form which can pass easily between humans, triggering a global pandemic in which millions of people could die.
However, there is so far no evidence to suggest that the virus has altered its form.
Vietnam confirms 60 bird flu patients
A total of 60 local people in Vietnam have been confirmed to be infected with bird flu virus strain H5N1 since late December 2004, of whom 18 died, local newspaper Youth Tuesday quoted the country's Health Ministry a s saying.
The patients are from 23 cities and provinces. Ten people have remained hospitalized in the Institute of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi capital city. While the ministry confirmed 60 bird flu patients since late December 2004, local media, earlier, reported a total of 61 infection cases.
Seeing a greater number of human infections in recent months when no major outbreaks among poultry have been detected, the ministry has urged relevant ministries, sectors and localities to strengthen disease prevention. Localities are asked to reduce the number of poultry flocks, raise and slaughter them on large scale in concentrated areas, and cull infected poultry as well as flocks of less than 30 fowls which are raised freely in gardens or fields, regardless they contract H5N1 or not.
Vietnam will start vaccinating fowls against bird flu viruses in northern Nam Dinh province and southern Tien Giang province on a trial basis in early August, and then do the same in other localities with high risks of outbreaks in October if the vaccination proves effective.
Bird flu virus found in chicken in eastern Japan
A type of bird flu virus has been detected at a chicken farm in eastern Japan where hundreds of fowl died earlier this year, a Japanese Farm Ministry spokesman said on Sunday.The virus that was detected was a "weak" form of bird flu, the spokesman said. Kyodo news agency said the strain identified was "H5N2", which is less virulent to the "H5N1" strain found in previous avian flu outbreaks in Japan. The H5N1 virus has killed dozens of people in Asia since 2003, while millions of birds have been slaughtered to contain the disease. Around 430 chickens died between March and May at a chicken farm in Ibaraki prefecture, an official for the Ibaraki prefectural government said earlier. The Farm Ministry plans to limit the movement of eggs and chickens in a 5-km (3-mile) radius around the chicken farm to prevent the virus from spreading, Kyodo said. Local officials inspected the farm on Saturday, but found "no particular irregularities" among chickens, the Ibaraki official said, adding that the incident was reported to local officials on Friday. Japan suffered several outbreaks of bird flu last year, including an outbreak in Kyoto in western Japan in February. After the February 2004 outbreak, some 240,000 chickens and 20 million eggs were disposed of at the Kyoto farm and another one nearby to prevent the disease spreading.
Companies at odd over Tamiflu drug.
Two drug companies are fighting over the rights to Tamiflu, an influenza drug that is viewed as the best hope for slowing a possible global pandemic of bird flu.
Gilead Sciences, which invented the drug, said on Thursday that it wanted to take back the rights to the drug from Roche, which makes and sells it. Gilead said Roche had not done enough to manufacture and promote the drug, thereby violating the 1996 contract between the companies.
"We believe Roche has devoted only minimal effort to it," Gilead's chief financial officer, John F. Milligan, said in an interview.
Milligan said that Roche had not started promoting the drug in 43 of the 64 countries in which it is approved. Roche's inadequate manufacturing efforts, he said, had led to shortages, and Gilead, after commissioning an audit, says that Roche owes it another US$18 million in royalties.
A spokesman for Roche, Terence Hurley, said that his company was "deeply disappointed" at Gilead's action. "We strongly disagree with their decision but have every interest to resolve this issue with them."
Hurley said Roche doubled production last year and planned to double it again this year.
Under the contract, Roche can try to correct the perceived problems before losing its rights.
It is also possible that the companies may renegotiate financial terms rather than switch manufacturing and sales.
The dispute theoretically could affect the supply of Tamiflu. About 25 countries, including the United States, are stockpiling the drug as a first line of defense against a possible outbreak of avian influenza, or bird flu, which has no vaccine.
While bird flu has affected only a small number of people in Asia so far, public health authorities fear that the virus will evolve into a form that can easily pass from person to person, which could lead to a global pandemic in which millions of people could die.
Milligan of Gilead said he did not anticipate supply problems arising from the dispute. Roche said it would be "business as usual as our No. 1 commitment remains producing Tamiflu globally." Even if Gilead were to regain the rights, Roche would continue making the drug for two years.
Bill Hall, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said, "We do not have a concern about the supply of Tamiflu" stemming from the dispute.
Tamiflu can reduce the duration of flu by one or two days if taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms. It can prevent flu if taken during a community outbreak.
Gilead, a biotechnology company in Foster City, California, was a smaller company when it licensed Tamiflu to Roche, which is based in Basel, Switzerland. Now Gilead is one of the industry successes, mainly because of its HIV drug Viread, which it sells itself.
Tamiflu was approved in the United States in 1999. Since then, through the end of the first quarter of this year, Roche has sold US$1.2-billion worth of the drug worldwide and paid Gilead royalties of US$85.9 million, Milligan said.
Chance of bird flu between humans increases-Vietnam
Vietnam's agriculture ministry was quoted as saying on Saturday that the mutation of a bird flu virus was increasing the infection possibility between humans.State-run media cited a ministry report as saying laboratory test results overseas and at home showed the antigen structure of virus is changing. "The ministry warned in the report that the mutation of the H5N1 virus is raising the possibility of infections on humans, because the test results of international and domestic laboratories showed the virus's antigen structure contained a change," the Saigon Giai Phong (Liberation Saigon) daily said. The mutation of the virus explains why Vietnam did not detect major outbreaks in poultry in recent months but people still fell sick of avian influenza, it said. Officials could not be reached for comment on Saturday. Bird flu has killed 38 people in Vietnam since it arrived in Asia in late 2003 along with 12 Thais and four Cambodians. Eighteen of the Vietnamese victims have died since December in the latest wave of infections by the virus, which seems to thrive best in the cool of winter. Officials said just one outbreak in poultry has been detected and isolated in the southern Mekong Delta this month, but nine people were found having bird flu in the north where the summer is under way. On Friday the World Health Organisation said a team of international experts has been working in Vietnam this week to study whether the H5N1 virus may be evolving into a form which might trigger a human pandemic. Scientists have been tracking the evolution of the H5N1 virus, which is infectious in birds but does not spread easily among humans, as they fear it could mutate into a form capable of unleashing a pandemic. Humans would have no immunity to the mutated virus and millions could die, they say.
Vietnam central province waterfowl contract bird flu
One-fifth of the total waterfowl in Vietnam's central Quang Tri province have been found to have contracted the H5N1 strain of Avian Influenza, a local newspaper reported Friday.
The local Animal Health Department has culled over 23,000 birds, mainly ducks, in the 38 infected flocks, an official told the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Saigon Liberation) newspaper.
The province expected to cull a further 120,000 to 150,000 waterfowl in response to the finding, he added.
Vietnam, which has seen no bird flu outbreaks since April, culled a flock of 6,700 chickens in southern Ben Tre province in mid-June after specimens from 6,000 dead or sick poultry in the flock tested positive to H5N1.
Experts in Vietnam to study bird flu evolution
A team of international experts is in Vietnam studying whether the H5N1 bird flu virus may be evolving into a form that might trigger a human pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Friday.The team of virologists and epidemiologists was looking at "the possibility of more widespread H5N1 human transmission, changes in the H5N1 virus and the likelihood of increased human-to-human transmission," it said in a statement. "What has happened in Vietnam may have public health implications for the entire world and will be crucial in preparing for a possible pandemic," Hans Troedsson, WHO Representative in Vietnam, was quoted as saying in the statement. WHO officials in Hanoi were not immediately available for comment on details of the study in a country where the virus has killed 38 people since it arrived in Asia in late 2003 along with 12 Thais and four Cambodians. Eighteen of the Vietnamese victims have died since December in the latest wave of infections by the virus, which seems to thrive best in the cool of winter. Scientists have been tracking the evolution of the H5N1 virus, which is infectious in birds but does not spread easily among humans. However, the fear is that it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, unleashing a pandemic. Humans would have no immunity to the mutated virus and millions could die, researchers say. So far, there have been very few cases in which human-to-human transmission is suspected, including a Thai woman killed by the virus after cradling her dying daughter all night. Last week, a Vietnamese doctor who treated bird flu patients tested positive for the virus, but the Health Ministry insisted there has been no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus in Vietnam so far.
In China 25 km from Kazakhstan border severe bird flu outburst registered
In the Chinese People’s Republic 25 km from the border with East Kazakhstan is registered large outbreak of bird flu among birds. According to WHO, 1042 ducks were detected with symptoms of bird flu, and 406 of them died. It has been said by deputy Healthcare Minister, chief state sanitary inspector of Kazakhstan Anatoliy Belonog.
Candaba swamp in Pampanga a bird-flu hotspot
The Candaba swamp, which has gained international recognition as favorite nesting place of migratory birds, has been included in the list of 20 areas identified as possible breeding grounds for the deadly bird flu.
Indonesia confirms human case of H5N1; 6 more people ill in Vietnam
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has infected a person in Indonesia, authorities confirmed today, marking the spread of the disease among people to a fourth nation.
A poultry worker who was among 81 people tested for avian flu in Indonesia last March has tested positive in two rounds of testing conducted in Hong Kong, the Washington Post reported today. It is the first known case of avian flu among Indonesians. Other countries with human cases of avian flu since 2003 are Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Indonesia has suffered H5N1 outbreaks in poultry intermittently since 2003, but authorities previously said the strain differed from that in other countries in that it wasn’t infecting people, the newspaper said. Scientific details about the strain were not available today.
The poultry worker had a relatively low concentration of antibodies to H5N1 and has shown no symptoms of illness, authorities told the newspaper.
The same cannot be said for another half-dozen people in Vietnam who have been hospitalized with avian flu in the past week, according to Vietnamese newspapers and the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters news services. All six patients remain at the National Institute for Clinical Research of Tropical Medicine in Hanoi, according to the Tuoi Tre newspaper in Vietnam.
All six people are from northern Vietnam, which has continued to generate human cases since mid-December 2004. Five of them are in stable condition, the AP reported. Most of the avian flu patients have been found to have had contact with infected birds, although the specter of human-to-human transmission still hovers. A physician who had been in contact with the current group of patients has developed a fever and is suspected of being infected.
The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday announced an updated case count for Vietnam, adding three more human cases that occurred in May. These six cases appear to be new, as they were all diagnosed in the past week, the AP said.
Tests of bird flu vaccine on chickens successful
"The chickens that were given the vaccine have produced immunity," said Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, as quoted by AP news agency.
The institute began working on the H5N1 vaccine last year and tests on mice and monkeys have produced good results.
Hien said the institute had asked the Ministry of Health to allow the vaccine to be tested on a group of 10-20 volunteers and then later this year, on a group of 200-300 people who work closely with poultry.
The ministry has yet to agree to the proposal, he said.
If tests on humans are successful, the institute hopes to mass produce the vaccine early next year.
Hans Troedson, head of the World Health Organization in Hanoi on Monday said the UN health agency will send experts to help Vietnam develop the vaccine, according to AP.
Bird flu has killed 38 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four from Cambodia since it ravaged poultry farms across Asia in late 2003.
Brunei Refutes Wire Report On Bird Flu
Bandar Seri Begawan - The Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources would like to announce that Brunei Darussalam has been and is free from Avian Flu.
This is in response to the foreign wire services that have reported the occurrence of bird flu in the country yesterday following an operation that was implemented by the department. The public was also informed that the operation was only an "exercise" or a "dry run" that was conducted to measure the competence of the team to combat any occurrence of this disease. It was part of an Action Plan set up by the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources as well as other ministries and departments. A foreign wire service news agency yesterday reported that Brunei had its first case of bird flu and that 100 chickens were culled. The news had been retracted and withdrawn, saying that it was part of a government test exercise. The exercise on Thursday morning also caused confusion and panic among the public. The operation was mentioned in the radio the same morning but the scope of the operation and involvement by different government agencies led many to believe that it was real. Many also called the Weekend Bulletin reporting a massive number of chickens found `dead' in a farm. A statement from the Department of Agriculture stated that the department is always monitoring chicken farms in Brunei to ensure that Good Farm Practices are being carried out and samples are always taken for bacterial and virus analysis. The department has also prohibited the import of chicken or birds as well as its products from affected countries and high-risk areas to prevent any possibility of the virus from emerging here. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin
Three New Bird Flu Cases Reported in Vietnam
Three new cases of the bird flu have been reported in Vietnam. The number of cases since December has now risen to 52. Eighteen of the patients have died from the disease.
WHO urges bird flu vigilance, warns virus unstable
The WHO has warned that if the bird flu mutates to spread directly between humans, a worldwide pandemic could result in the death of tens of millions of people.
The World Health Organisation urged vigilance against the deadly strain of bird flu on Friday, saying the disease scientists warn could cause a global pandemic was moving in new and unpredictable ways.Shigeru Omi, the WHO's Asia director, made the comments in Beijing a day after China said it had discovered the H5N1 strain in the far western province of Xinjiang, its second outbreak in as many months. "All of this shows the virus remains unstable, unpredictable and very versatile," Omi told a news conference."It may have new and unpleasant surprises in store for all of us." Avian flu is highly infectious in birds but does not spread easily in humans, but scientists fear it could mutate into a form better able to pass from animals to people, possibly triggering a pandemic that they say would likely start in Asia. Omi said the virus appeared to be moving in different ways in different places, with the disease apparently becoming more transmissable but less fatal in Vietnam while becoming more pathogenic in China. "It is an indication that this virus is very, very changeable. Anything can happen," he said.
The H5N1 strain first surfaced in poultry in Hong Kong and China eight years ago and has killed at least 37 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four in Cambodia.
Japan's Sharp claims new technology can combat bird flu
Tests by Japanese electronics maker Sharp have found an air-purifier using plasmacluster ion technology 99 percent effective in killing-off the bird flu virus in a controlled environment.
Plasmacluster ions also proved effective against 26 other kinds of harmful airborne substances, including bacteria, mold fungi, viruses and allergens.
Can Tamiflu save us from bird flu?
AMID ominous signs that H5N1 bird flu is acquiring the ability to spread more readily among people, many health authorities are pinning their hopes on Tamiflu, the only available antiviral drug known to block the replication of the virus. But can the drug really help stop an emerging flu pandemic?
Even if efforts to develop a vaccine are successful (New Scientist, 26 March, p 10), it could take many months to produce the billions of doses needed in the event of a pandemic. By then it might be too late. So in the meantime, the World Health Organization is stepping up its efforts to acquire a massive stockpile of Tamiflu (oseltamivir), which it hopes will at least slow any emerging flu pandemic.
“Last month the WHO reported that a patient in Vietnam was infected with a strain of H5N1 resistant to Tamiflu”
Recent cases of H5N1 in northern Vietnam have caused concern because of signs that the virus is changing. It has become less lethal and is occurring in larger clusters than past cases. Last month studies also revealed that the virus is diverging genetically.
Tamiflu can save lives if it is given early, no more than two days after symptoms first appear. But last month the WHO reported that a patient in Vietnam had a strain of H5N1 resistant to Tamiflu. So could the drug become useless before the pandemic even begins?
Luckily the resistant viruses may be poor at spreading, according to Fred Hayden of the University of Virginia, a leading expert on antiviral therapy. The mutation that made the Vietnam virus drug resistant also occurs in a normal human flu strain, making the virus a hundred times less contagious. In Japan, which uses Tamiflu for ordinary flu epidemics, the mutation appears in 16 per cent of treated children, yet such viruses almost never go on to infect others.
It is probable that the same will be true of any drug-resistant strains of H5N1. This assumption needs to be tested as soon as possible, Hayden says.
But even if Tamiflu remains effective in most cases, it might not be enough to stop a pandemic. The real difficulty with the WHO's antiviral plan, Hayden says, will be finding and treating all the cases and contacts in time. "But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try," he adds.
Ira Longini of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, says much depends on how fast the virus spreads. If each infected person passes the virus to fewer than two other people on average, then isolating and treating all cases and their contacts with antivirals could slow or even stop an epidemic, he calculates.
But health workers would not be able to keep up with the virus if sick people infect between two and three others, as happened in the 1918 flu pandemic. Drug stockpiles would still help save lives, Longini says, but would not halt the outbreak.
The best chance of the antiviral strategy succeeding will be in the early stages, when the virus might still spread slowly. The trouble, however, is that most stockpiles of Tamiflu are being acquired by rich countries in Europe and North America, not poor countries such as Vietnam, where any H5N1 pandemic is most likely to start.
What's more, Tamiflu is in short supply. Seventeen countries have ordered stockpiles of the drug from the Swiss company Roche, which holds the patent, and 10 more are said to be discussing purchases. The UK's order for 14.6 million five-day courses of treatment will take two years to fulfil, for instance. The drug is made from a plant in limited supply, and Roche is still trying to develop methods for synthesising it from scratch.
There are two other drugs that target the same enzyme as Tamiflu. But zanamivir (Relenza) must be taken by inhalation and is not widely available, while peramivir was dropped by US company Johnson & Johnson, which thought it unlikely to be profitable. BioCryst, the small Alabama firm that created peramivir, is still trying to find a new partner.
"Most stockpiles of Tamiflu are being acquired by rich countries, not the poor countries where a pandemic is most likely to start”
In Asia, H5N1 had already evolved resistance to another class of antivirals, including amantadine, by 2003. These resistant strains are just as deadly and contagious as non-resistant strains. "The Chinese have been incorporating amantadine in their chicken feed, so we have lost that as a treatment," says Robert Webster of St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. This also suggests that Chinese farmers have been fighting bird flu outbreaks since before 2003, although China officially reported its first outbreaks only last year.
Bird flu ruled out for chickens in Brazil suffering from mystery disease, official says
Authorities have ruled out bird flu disease as the cause of a mysterious respiratory illness that prompted the slaughter of 17,000 chickens in a central western Brazilian state, an official with the Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday.
"We know it's not bird flu," Jamil Gomes, coordinator of the ministry's animal sanitation division, said in a telephone interview from Brasilia, the capital. "It has not arrived in South America."Testing was still under way to identify the disease, but Gomes said authorities suspect it may be Exotic Newcastle Disease, which is not dangerous to humans.
Millions of chickens and other fowl have been slaughtered across Asia in attempts to stem bird flu since the disease was discovered in late 2003. A strain of the disease has jumped to humans, killing 54 people in Asia, with Vietnam accounting for 38 of those deaths.
Brazil is the world's largest chicken exporter. Production in South America's largest country rose 8 percent last year, with exports skyrocketing 26 percent, in part because of the outbreak of bird flu in Asia.
Nearly Current overview from AP / WHO / CDC
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