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UPDATE: H5N1 virus - don't panic, be educated

by Jerome a Paris Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 11:17:50 AM EST

UPDATE 10-14-05 17:11 by whataboutbob I have moved Jerome's original post of ysterday below, to give you an update. On Swiss radio there are asking people to keep calm, but to become educated, regarding the finding of the Avian Flu virus in Turkey. Below is the latest statement from WHO: WHO Avian Flu update

The WHO reports that the H5N1 virus does not spread easily from one person to another. WHO continues to recommend that travellers to areas experiencing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 in poultry should avoid contact with live animal markets and poultry farms. Large amounts of the virus are known to be excreted in the droppings from infected birds. Populations in affected countries are advised to avoid contact with dead migratory birds or wild birds showing signs of disease.

Direct contact with infected poultry, or surfaces and objects contaminated by their droppings, is considered the main route of human infection. Exposure risk is considered highest during slaughter, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for cooking. There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or poultry products can be a source of infection.

Countries located along migratory routes need to be vigilant for signs of disease in wild and domestic birds. Recent events make it likely that some migratory birds are now implicated in the direct spread of the H5N1 virus in its highly pathogenic form. © World Health Organization 2005. All rights reserved


So says the European Commission in a news release this morning. More news to follow later. Don't hesitate to post updates in the comments if you find any.

Update [2005-10-13 10:4:35 by Jerome a Paris]: From the Commission's press release, via the comments:

The Commission is taking further action following the confirmation last night of the presence of avian influenza H5 virus in Romania and the results from the EU laboratory this morning indicating that the avian influenza virus in Turkey is H5N1 closely related to a virus detected in a wild bird in central Asia a few months ago. The measures will be discussed at an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in Brussels this afternoon.

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From the Commission's press release:

The Commission is taking further action following the confirmation last night of the presence of avian influenza H5 virus in Romania and the results from the EU laboratory this morning indicating that the avian influenza virus in Turkey is H5N1 closely related to a virus detected in a wild bird in central  Asia a few months ago.  The measures will be discussed at an emergency meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in Brussels this afternoon.

From ABCNews Online:

But the Romanian Agriculture Minister, Gheorghe Flutur, says further testing will be needed to check if the virus is present in its more serious form, H5N1.

"The tests show it is indeed the H5 strain but we haven't established the sub-type yet," he said.

"We're now sending the samples on to a laboratory in Britain for final tests.

"We hope it's a weak pathogen, which means it wouldn't be passed on, and pose no real danger.

"But we'll have to wait a few days to know for sure."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 07:51:51 AM EST
UAE on bird flu alert

ABU DHABI-- With the outbreak of bird flu already reported in several Asian countries and fears of emergence of a human-to-human transmitting strain getting strengthened, the UAE has been put on a high alert against Bird Flu.

The country's leadership is cautiously studying the preparedness to deal with any possible outbreak of the pandemic, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Speaking during the first meeting of the National Emergency Committee for the Follow Up of Avian Influenza, Shaikh Hamdan, who chairs the panel, said the leadership attaches great importance and gives the issue top priority to ensure safety of the population.

...
Due to imminent threat of a global outbreak, the officials said prevention measures should be put in place on a federal level. This includes an immediate action plan covering surveillance measures as well as emergency response plans.

The panel has been set up to trace and combat the bird flu disease as well adopt necessary measures to obstruct the pandemic from entering into the country.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 08:53:42 AM EST
EU vaccine alert after lethal bird flu virus found in Turkey

The European Union health chief recommended today that all EU citizens be offered a seasonal flu jab as a precautionary measure to deal with a possible bird flu pandemic.

The proposal was made after scientists in Surrey confirmed that the bird flu virus isolated from dead birds at a Turkish poultry farm was the lethal H5N1 strain, responsible for more than 60 human deaths in Asia.

The discovery, suggesting that the virus is moving ever close to the borders of Europe, was made at a laboratory in Weybridge, where a sample of the avian flu virus arrived for testing last night amid high security.

"We have received now confirmation that the virus found in Turkey is avian flu H5N1 high pathogenic virus," said Markos Kyprianou, the EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 08:57:11 AM EST
US plan paints grim picture of flu pandemic

Oct 10, 2005 (CIDRAP News) - A not-yet-released version of the Bush administration's plan for dealing with an influenza pandemic predicts that such an event could exact an enormous toll in life and wealth, according to recent newspaper reports.

The New York Times, which obtained a recent draft of the plan, said it describes a worst-case scenario in which the flu would kill more than 1.9 million Americans, put 8.5 million in hospitals, and cost more than $450 billion.

Those numbers suggest that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking a more somber view of the risks than it did in the previous draft plan, released in August 2004. That document cited earlier estimates that pandemic flu could cause between 89,000 and 207,000 deaths in the United States.

The new draft predicts that an emerging pandemic in Asia, where widespread avian flu has killed more than 60 people and generated fear of an epidemic, would be likely to reach US shores in a few months or even weeks, the Times said in an Oct 8 report. Quarantines and travel restrictions, while recommended, probably would not postpone the disease's arrival "by more than a month or two."

The document says a pandemic could overwhelm hospitals, touch off riots at vaccination clinics, and lead to power and food shortages, the newspaper said.

However, infectious disease expert Michael T. Osterholm said the draft plan obtained by the Times is out of date. "There have been tremendous improvements in the plan over the last week to 10 days," an Oct 9 report in the Washington Post quoted Osterholm as saying. He is director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, publisher of this site.1

Plus:

Indonesia reports another avian flu case

Oct 7, 2005 (CIDRAP News) - Indonesian authorities said yesterday a hospitalized 21-year-old man had tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza.

Indonesia's Antara news agency said the man lives in Lampung but did not name him. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in Jakarta indicated avian flu, the report said. A Reuters report described the man as being in stable condition.

The Antara report said a 23-year-old man who died last week also tested positive by PCR in a Jakarta laboratory. His case was reported by the news media on Oct 5. Samples from both men were sent to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) reference laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmatory testing.

The disease-control chief at the health ministry said both of the young men had direct contact with dead poultry, Reuters reported.

The number of avian flu cases in Indonesia has been hard to determine. Counting the 21-year-old, the Indonesian government has reported 10 cases this year, including seven deaths, according to CIDRAP's analysis of news reports. But the WHO has officially confirmed only four of those, including three fatal ones. 2

("CIDRAP" is the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy of the University of Minnesota.)

Funnily enough I was unable to find the original NYT report cited above. Did anybody see it?

I need a beer after that one. Good night!

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Oct 13th, 2005 at 03:36:10 PM EST
WHO Avain flu announcement update

spread of H5N1 to poultry in new areas is of concern as it increases opportunities for further human cases to occur. However, all evidence to date indicates that the H5N1 virus does not spread easily from birds to infect humans. WHO advises countries experiencing outbreaks in poultry to follow certain precautions, particularly during culling operations, and to monitor persons with a possible exposure history for fever or respiratory symptoms. The early symptoms of H5N1 infection mimic those of many other common respiratory illnesses, meaning that false alarms are likely.

The WHO level of pandemic alert remains unchanged at phase 3: a virus new to humans is causing infections, but does not spread easily from one person to another.

WHO continues to recommend that travellers to areas experiencing outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 in poultry should avoid contact with live animal markets and poultry farms. Large amounts of the virus are known to be excreted in the droppings from infected birds. Populations in affected countries are advised to avoid contact with dead migratory birds or wild birds showing signs of disease.

Direct contact with infected poultry, or surfaces and objects contaminated by their droppings, is considered the main route of human infection. Exposure risk is considered highest during slaughter, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for cooking. There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or poultry products can be a source of infection.

Countries located along migratory routes need to be vigilant for signs of disease in wild and domestic birds. Recent events make it likely that some migratory birds are now implicated in the direct spread of the H5N1 virus in its highly pathogenic form. © World Health Organization 2005. All rights reserved



"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Fri Oct 14th, 2005 at 06:02:31 AM EST
the tight access to the villages and destruction of poultry that you are seeing on TV is not all that it seems to be. A reporter last night on one of the commerical channels reported that getting in and out of the infected village was easy. She also reported that villagers were giving poultry to the glove and mask protected doctors without any protection for themselves.
by gradinski chai on Sun Oct 16th, 2005 at 06:05:10 AM EST


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