Skip to comments.'Europe Has No Hope Of Eradicating Bird Flu'
Posted on 02/22/2006 6:40:19 PM PST by blam
'Europe has no hope of eradicating bird flu'
By David Rennie and David Derbyshire
Europe has "no hope of eradicating" the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in the foreseeable future, now that there are infected wild birds across the European Union, a senior bird flu expert said yesterday.
Although the virulent strain of avian influenza arrived inside the EU less than two weeks ago, it is now a fact of life, European Commission officials said. The warning came as EU officials approved plans by France and the Netherlands to vaccinate millions of birds against the disease. The British Government yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to vaccination, arguing that it could lead to the "silent spread" of the disease.
Seven EU countries have now confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain in wild birds. Yesterday Austria said two chickens had been carrying the virus, the first time it has appeared in poultry in the EU. The birds had been kept with an infected swan at an animal sanctuary in Graz but commercial flocks had not been affected, officials said.
Europe's vets now believe that the bird flu strain is here for good in wild birds. They are focusing efforts on preventing it from jumping into commercial poultry and domestic birds.
An EU technical expert, who asked not to be named, said: "We have no prospect of eradicating the virus in the near future... The fact that the virus is circulating in wild birds, and that we have no technical tools to prevent that, is a major obstacle to the eradication of the disease."
That has serious implications for Europe's millions of free-range birds and pets, especially ducks and geese that share a pond or wetlands with infected wildfowl.
The H5N1 virus has been endemic in China and other parts of Asia since 2003. It has jumped the species gap to humans, killing at least 92 people, most of them in Asia. To date all human cases are thought to have involved close contact with an infected bird. However, there are fears that the disease could mutate into a lethal form of flu that could be spread quickly from human to human.
The Commission expert said there was now near-total consensus that the virus reached Europe last month after unusually cold weather in wetlands near the Black Sea, where the disease was well established. The cold snap drove migrating birds, notably swans, much further south and west than usual.
After two days of debate, France and Holland yesterday obtained permission to vaccinate millions of ducks, geese and free-range chickens.
The EU has imposed tough extra conditions on France and Holland, so that vaccinated birds may only be moved to other vaccinated farms, and will be largely banned from export. Meat from vaccinated birds has been declared safe, and may be sold and exported, without special labelling, if accompanied by a veterinary certificate stating that the birds were healthy before slaughter. Their eggs may be sold if properly cleaned and packed.
Four nations abstained in the final vote to approve the use of vaccines: Germany, Belgium, Greece and Portugal. Britain expressed grave doubts.
Opponents of mass vaccinations say vaccinated birds can still carry the virus and "shed" it on to other birds. Vaccines must also be given twice within three weeks, making it expensive to treat free-range flocks. If some birds are missed, or have lower levels of immunity, the vaccine can actually "mask" the presence of bird flu on a farm.
Britain does not hold stockpiles of bird flu vaccines, and has not placed orders for any, putting its faith in close monitoring of flocks, a strict policy of isolating any outbreaks and culling birds.
"We have eradicated previous outbreaks of high pathogenic avian influenza successfully in domestic birds using this method," said Fred Landeg, the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer. "Vaccination offers potential benefits but currently available vaccines are too limited to provide a general solution."
The Soil Association, which represents organic farmers, criticised the Government for failing to stockpile vaccinations. Although it is opposed to mass vaccination, it believes outbreaks should be contained by culling the infected birds and vaccinating surrounding farms.
Anyone get the feeling that this hysteria is contrived?
But will it jump to human-to-human transmission? That is the big question.
At a minimum, we'll have massive poultry losses as well, maybe as late as next year. But it's going to happen.
What's less clear is when and if the virus will jump to humans who then spread it. Most experts think that will happen within 10 years. Many have a more pessimistic timeframe.
But the further it spreads in the fowl population, the more opportunities the virus has to hit the magical mutation. It's now in Africa, Europe, and Asia.
You'd have to be a dummy not to predict what will happen next.
Comparison of the SARS meme to the "Avian Flu" meme.
There's a good chance the the "world mind" is reacting quicker to potential pandemics.
World wide,all countries,all cases,what is the total deaths from H5N1 bird flu virus?
As of 17 February, 170 human cases and 92 deaths.
In terms of investments, is there such a thing as chicken futures?
Location: NORAD bunkers deep within the Rocky Mountains. The site has been abandoned since President Amy Carter-Kennedy shut it down three years ago because it was "bad karma".
George Blush [President of the United States]: Carl....CARL!! When will the bird virus be ready?!
Carlton Rover [President Blush's evil henchman]: Don't rush me, you fool! I'm busy directing a hurricane towards Seattle!
The surprising thing, is there are actually people out there who believe it, and preach it as fact. In some people's mind's GWB is more powerful than the Wizard of Oz.
* We'll have a chicken glut because everyone will freak and not eat chicken, then:
* We'll have a shortage when they start culling the flocks, then:
* I don't know what will happen.
Anyway, it'll be Bush's fault because he didn't have a plan.
This ain't an epidemic,it is a flu,like swine flu,or every other "flu" that comes out every year.
Folks,this ain't the 1900's anymore,we have medicine now.
I'm sick of Bird Flu!
This ain't 1918 anymore.
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