Skip to comments.U.S. study defines two clear bird flu strains (2 people dead 14 infected- Azerbaijan)
Posted on 03/20/2006 7:52:03 AM PST by Mother Abigail
U.S. study defines two clear bird flu strains
ATLANTA, March 20 (Reuters) - The H5N1 strain of bird flu in humans has evolved into two separate strains, U.S. researchers reported on Monday, which could complicate developing a vaccine and preventing a pandemic.
One strain, or clade, made people sick in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand in 2003 and 2004 and a second, a cousin of the first, caused the disease in people in Indonesia in 2004.
Two clades may share the same ancestor but are distinct -- as are different clades, or strains, of the AIDS virus, the team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
"Back in 2003 we only had one genetically distinct population of H5N1 with the potential to cause a human pandemic. Now we have two," said the CDC's Rebecca Garten, who helped conduct the study.
Speaking to the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, Garten said the pool of H5N1 candidates with the potential to cause a human influenza pandemic is getting more genetically diverse, which makes studying the virus more complex and heightens the need for increased surveillance.
"As the virus continues its geographic expansion, it is also undergoing genetic diversity expansion," Garten said in a statement.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu has spread across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia and killed about 100 people worldwide and infected about 180 since it re-emerged in 2003.
Although it is difficult to catch bird flu, people can become infected if they come into close contact with infected birds. Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that could pass easily between humans, triggering a pandemic in which millions could die.
All influenza viruses mutate easily, and H5N1 appears to be no exception.
"Only time will tell whether the virus evolves or mutates in such a way that it can be transmitted from human to human efficiently," Garten said.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has already recognized the two strains and approved the development of a second H5N1 vaccine based on the second clade.
Several companies are working on H5N1 vaccines experimentally, although current formulations are not expected to protect very well, if at all, against any pandemic strain.
A vaccine against a pandemic flu strain would have to be formulated using the actual virus passing from person to person.
For their study, Garten and colleagues analyzed more than 300 H5N1 virus samples taken from both infected birds and people 2003 through the summer of 2005.
The majority of the viruses, including all the human cases, belonged to genotype Z. Now there are two clades of the Z genotype. There were also small numbers of viruses in birds that were genotype V or W or recently identified genotype G.
Experts from the World Health Organization suspect 14 more people are infected with bird flu in Azerbaijan where two girls died of the the H5N1 virus earlier this month, Interfax reported Monday.
A group of WHO experts reported their suspicions after visiting the Salyansky district of Azerbaijan, 150 km to the south of the capital Baku. Earlier three residents of the district were provisionaly diagnosed with bird flu.
Meanwhile, the state commission for preventing the spread of bird flu in Azerbaijan and coordinating the work of relevant government bodies has issued a statement that says no new areas of bird flu outbreak have been discovered, Regnum news agency said.
"Bird flu has not been discovered in new areas. The Health Ministry has said no-one has been hospitalized [with suspected bird flu] in recent days, and that it has stockpiled the medications and disinfectants necessary to prevent and treat the bird flu virus," the statement read.
Post date should read 3-20-06
Israel poisons poultry in bird flu battle
By Megan Goldin
JERUSALEM, March 20 (Reuters) -
Israel poisoned hundreds of thousands of turkeys and chickens as it sought on Monday to contain an outbreak of the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu which has been spreading at an alarming rate.
The virus has rippled out from Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa in recent months, with migratory birds seen as the main culprits in spreading bird flu.
Bird flu can infect people who come into close contact with infected poultry and has killed at least 98 people since late 2003.
Experts fear the virus will mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person, sparking a pandemic in which millions could die and which could cripple the global economy.
Europe began discussing the possibility of curbing poultry production to prop up prices.
Israel's neighbour Egypt said on Saturday that a 30-year-old woman had died of bird flu, the country's first reported death from the virus.
The woman was from Qaloubiyah province, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Cairo. Egypt said on Sunday that a man from same area suspected of having the virus had recovered.
Bird flu has flared anew in Asia in recent days.
Malaysia reported a new outbreak of H5N1 among dead chickens in the northern state of Penang.
Six dead chickens were found in Seberang Prai, on the mainland side of a bridge that links the resort island of Penang, one of Malaysia's top tourist attractions.
The U.S. military in Afghanistan has provided some 50 protective suits for cull workers there. Afghanistan aims to start culling on Wednesday.
PROTECTING POULTRY INDUSTRY
Health experts insist that there is no health risk from eating properly cooked eggs and poultry, but bird flu scares have depressed sales of poultry.
Europe should start cutting back on its production of chicks and hatching eggs as a first step to support poultry prices, the EU's farm chief said on Monday.
The EU's main consumer countries have seen poultry prices fall by between 15 and 20 percent in the last five months.
"What is desperately needed is to reduce production. A targeted approach on hatching eggs and chicks would, from my point of view, be the most practical approach," EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel told a news conference.
In Israel, birds were being given poisoned water and their carcasses were being buried in large pits. Four million doses of an H5N1 vaccine for chickens were expected to arrive from the Netherlands on Tuesday, the ministry said.
China defended its vaccination policy on Monday, saying its vaccines were the best in the world and that no healthy looking poultry had been founded infected with H5N1.
Bad vaccines for poultry can "mask" diseases. The vaccines protect birds, which often do not show symptoms, but do not guard against infection and the birds can shed the virus in their faeces.
The virus then spreads to more birds, mutates and can even jump species barriers, for example, into humans.
This genetic drift should be expected due to natural selection and environmental factors.
Russia to tighten border checks as it fights bird flu
MOSCOW, March 20 (Reuters) -
Russia plans to tighten border controls and is continuing the mass vaccination of domestic fowl as it seeks to prevent the spread of deadly bird flu, senior veterinary officials said on Monday.
Chief state epidemiologist Gennady Onishchenko, in a letter to regional health officials, proposed preparing medical facilities at ports, airports, railway stations and other border crossings to hospitalise people suspected of having bird flu.
"To prevent the penetration and spread of avian influenza, I propose an increase of sanitary control at check points on the border of the Russian Federation with China, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan," Onishchenko said in the letter.
Bird flu has killed about 100 people worldwide since 2003, spreading from Asia to the Middle East and reaching Europe and Africa along bird migration routes.
The World Health Organisation says there is no evidence so far of human-to-human transmission of the virus, but experts fear the H5N1 bird flu strain could mutate enough to pass easily from person to person and spark an epidemic.
In Russia no cases of bird flu in humans have been registered so far.
On March 10, Russia started a mass vaccination campaign of domestic fowl against bird flu, which has killed 1.34 million birds since the latest wave of the virus hit Russia in February, the Emergencies Ministry said in statement.
The ministry said 3.99 million domestic birds had been vaccinated in the south of European Russia by Monday.
It said that as of March 20, the H5N1 strain had been confirmed in domestic fowl in six regions and in wild fowl in another three.
All the affected regions are situated in the North Caucasus, an area between the Caspian and Black seas on the border with Georgia and Azerbaijan, where bird flu was found last month.
Thanks for the ping. I'm watching with great concern.
(And shun KFC `beaks & feet' nuggets?)
Scientists at bird flu lab battle bravely
- 4000 samples pile up for tests each week
New Delhi, March 17: In India's only laboratory equipped to handle the avian influenza H5N1 virus, the cold room is brimming with tiny vials of chicken blood and globs of poultry tissue from across the country.
Several thousand samples arrive each week, packed in ice boxes, from places where farmers have sensed unusual chicken deaths and from routine surveillance sites.
Overwhelmed by the influx, veterinary pathologist Hare Krishna Pradhan, who heads the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, is fast running out of space and time.
"There is pressure, but my scientists are very good," said Pradhan.
Six out of the eight rooms in the laboratory are now engaged in H5N1 work, distributed across a dozen scientists. In one room, research associate Nidhi Srivastava performs a test to detect the H5 and N1 genetic signatures of the virus. Scientists S. Nagarajan, B. Pattnaik, and C. Tosh run molecular tests on another set of samples.
"We'll learn from this experience it's preparing us for the future," said Pradhan.
A molecular biologist from Bilaspur and a virologist from Hissar will join the team next week as research associates on a consolidated salary of Rs 13,000 a month.
Pradhan says the lab can handle a maximum of about 2,000 blood samples and 100 tissue and faecal samples a week. It has been receiving 4,000 samples each week over the past month.
The pressure is forcing Pradhan to pick and choose samples. "The top priority is for samples from sites with mortality," he said.
"Such pressure is not good when speed is crucial," said Shahid Jameel, head of virology at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in New Delhi. "There's a danger of delays in processing samples."
The samples from the outbreak in Jalgaon took more than two weeks for a diagnosis to be made because they were waiting. Another such lab, which Pradhan and others experts have suggested for years, could have helped. Biosecurity labs can't be built in haste.
"From conception to completion, this lab took 25 years," Pradhan says. It cost about Rs 22 crore. Another now might cost up to Rs 40 crore.
bird flu vaccine stocks to buy...........
Not good news but I sure do appreciate the ping Mother Abigail.
Ping in case you haven't seen this
A favorite mock-food that rapidly disintegrate upon contact with air.
I use the `nuggets' to grease my truck's undercarriage, but I `spork' the mashed pertaters and cole slaw . . .
Additional cases suspected by WHO are relatives of previous victims
Babelfished from Russian:
WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: with "bird influenza" could fall ill more than 10 inhabitants of
March 20, 2006
The appraisal group of the World Health Organization (WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION) suspects, that still several inhabitants Of the sal'yanskeyeo region of Azerbaijan, which is located in 150 kilometers to the south of Baku, fell ill with "bird influenza", reported on Monday television channel ANS, referring to the representatives OF WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION.
This statement the representatives OF WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION gave after the visit Of the sal'yanskeyeo region, where suspects the presence of disease in 14 inhabitants of the settlements Of Daykend and Sarvan.
The representatives OF WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION stated that the suspicions to the diseases by virus H5N1 in some inhabitants of settlements arose in them after encounter with the families of the persons, supposedly infected with this illness.
The appraisal group OF WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION, which consists of the epidemiologists and infektsionistov, they are located in The sal'yanskeye region for studying the sources of the disease of the inhabitants of these populated areas.
Previously it communicated about the presence of suspicions to the virus of "bird influenza" in three killed inhabitants Of the sal'yanskeyeo region.
Studies from the side of the specialists OF WHO - WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION confirmed primary diagnosis about the infection of three persons by "bird influenza".
For the first time the virus of "bird influenza" was fixed in Azerbaijan on 9 February. It was discovered in the models of the blood of the killed wild migratory birds on the coast of Caspian Region.
I believe you have competition Lib!
The more virulent and far more dangerous pandemic strain and subtype will likely acquire mammalian polymorphisms rather than attaining human specificity through a recombination event. Recombination although anticipated and not desired does not scare me as much as the highly virulent H5Ni subtype with acquired mammalian specificity.
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