Friday, March 30, 2007

3 new human cases in Egypt

2 cases were children and one case was a 46 year old woman. All three cases were from different cities and each case had contact with poultry. WHO has confirmed 2 of the cases.

This brings the total number of cases in Egypt up to 30

The media and avian flu preparedness.

Below is a link to an interesting editorial discussing the important role played by the media in avian flu preparedness. Media reports of outbreaks can often stir panic and cause public alarm. However, though initiates such as the recent workshop, held by the Uganda Media for Health, journalist can extend their knowledge of the issue and offer more useful information to the public.

“It was a starting point for new lines of communication between the media, health and veterinary experts and government officials. This and a similar workshop in Nigeria have resulted in a new determination among African journalists and editors to produce more and better quality avian flu coverage.

Similar efforts are underway elsewhere. In Nigeria, a new government communications strategy is encouraging better links between health officials and the media. The initiative has enrolled community leaders and town criers.

The Ugandan government plans to involve the media in a forthcoming simulation exercise, as part of its national pandemic preparedness plan.” …

Interestingly, the editorial also notes the import role media can play in advocating for preparedness planning to address avian flu.

For more: Science and Development Network. Africa’s bird flu preparations must involve the media:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A human case of H9N2

This story is a good example of why avian flu isn't just a short term scare, but a long term issue.

A 9 month old girl from Hong Kong has been hospitalized with a case of H9N2, another virus from birds that is on experts list of viruses to watch as potential pandemic viruses. In recent years they have seen 3 cases of H9N2 in Hong Kong.

We need to remember that our risk of emerging infectious disease from animals is always there, so all of our avian flu efforts shouldn't be a short term fix but should contribute to long term goals, such as better surveillance for these diseases so we can stop them while we still have the chance.

New human cases of H5N1 in China, Egypt and Indonesia

China's latest death from H5N1 is a 16 year old boy. The case is a bit unusual because so far they can find no history between the teenager and poultry and there have been no reported outbreaks in poultry in his area.

The Daily Star is reporting that a 3 year old girl is Egypt's 27th case

Two deaths have initially been attributed to H5N1 by local laboratories in Indonesia. If confirmed by WHO, that will make the 70th and 71st deaths in Indonesia.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Avian Influenza confirmed in Bangladesh

“Bird flu has spread to six poultry farms near Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, the government said on Friday, sparking a nationwide alert.

C.S. Karim, the government adviser for agriculture and livestock, said among more than 42,400 poultry on the six farms in Savar, over 12,000 had died and another 21,000 had been culled over the past few days.”

CARE Bangladesh is already taking proactive steps to respond to this outbreak, supporting staff and complementing Government initiatives. UNICEF, the Government of Bangladesh and CARE Bangladesh are working together in order to launch a coordinated risk and prevention communication campaign through daily newspapers and TV channels.

Source: Reuters

For More:

Indonesia’s reaction to “unfair mechanism” within H5N1 vaccine development is supported by WHO health experts.

Health experts attending the WHO’s Avian Influenza meeting, hosted by the Turkish government, agreed upon the need for developing countries to have greater access to H5NI vaccines. This stance comes in the wake of Indonesia’s recent decision to withhold from sharing its H5N1 samples with the WHO because of fear that they will be used for the commercial development of patented vaccines too expensive for developing countries to obtain. Under the current voluntary system, “countries submit virus samples to the four centers for collaboration on research on influenza under WHO (located in Tokyo, Melbourne, London and Atlanta) … (where) these samples are available free to any company interested in using them to develop vaccines.” (Intellectual Property Watch). The issue highlights the debate around intellectual property, and particularly the campaigning by some developing countries for an amendment to the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to require prior permission from the country before companies can patent vaccines. Indonesia’s actions have also brought to the forefront the need for an international environment that facilitates and increases the vaccine production capacity (a goal explicitly stated in the Global pandemic influenza Action Plan, 2006).

While Indonesia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with US pharmaceutical company, Baxter, it has also resumed its supply of virus samples to the WHO. According to recent reports the WHO has stated that worldwide “16 manufacturers from 10 countries are developing prototype influenza vaccines against H5N1 avian influenza virus, and more than 40 clinical trials have been completed or are ongoing” (Intellectual Property Watch).

Sources and other Information:

Intellectual Property Watch:

WHO and Indonesia Joint Statement:



Thursday, March 22, 2007

New outbreaks in poultry in Myanmar

"On March 17 and 18, some 1,645 chickens died from the virus in Nyaung Hnapin, Hmawbi Township, about 40 km north of Rangoon"

H5N1 outbreaks have now been confirmed in five Rangoon townships in the last three weeks, including Hmawbi, North Okkalapa, Hlaing Thayar, Mayangon and Mingaladon. Around 40,000 birds have been culled to stamp out the virus.

Poultry within a 1km radius are being culled and a transport ban is being enforced within a 6km radius.

More at:

New H5N1 cases detected in crows in Islamabad

Several dead crows found in parks and on the side of the road in Islamabad, Pakistan are confirmed H5N1 cases. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture reminded people not to handle dead birds with there bare hands and report and dead birds to the Sanitary Inspectors

More at

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New case in poultry in Muang district, Thailand

The Nation, a media source in Thailand, is confirming a case in a turkey, but it looks like appropriate control measures are being taken now. This is the latest in a new wave of outbreaks happening in the last few months.

"tests confirmed that a local turkey died of the bird-flu virus. The specimen from Muang district was submitted for tests last Friday. Public health officials are now closely monitoring six local people from the same family because they cooked and ate a turkey that died suspiciously. Although they did not develop any symptoms, all except a three-month pregnant woman were given bird-flu medicine Tamiflu as a precaution.

"Last Friday, we also culled about 120 fowls, buried their bodies and sprayed disinfectant," provincial livestock chief Suwat Ponglikhitpat said yesterday. He said livestock officials took action immediately after the suspicious deaths of local fowls were reported. "

Monday, March 19, 2007

Communities need support - not short answers!

I'm in Ratanakiri (Northeastern Cambodia) this week. In Ratanakiri, we are working with ethnic minorities to integrate avian influenza awareness into community theater and education. We are also working on a pilot of model farms as part of an AI project in this area, working with an organization called Celegrid. We were curious to see how the communities would respond to the model farms, so we presented the model to a group of elders. (Translation here happens 4 fold! English, Khmer, Tampuon and Krung).

Our CARE staff presented and translated the model and then asked the communities to discuss among themselves and report back on their discussion. The points the community came back with were very interesting. They pointed out that organizations had come to them with these suggestions before (such as fence your chickens and separate your poultry). They recognize that these changes will increase their poultry production and protect them from disease. The problem, however, is that organizations never commit enough technical assistance for them to learn and sustain the model!

Since I’ve seen most avian flu programs do just that – promote a few messages and then move on, I feel what they’re saying. I think it would be great if CARE could take an active role in advocating for more in-depth technical assistance at the community level. We’ll see how things go in this project here!

They also mentioned a few areas that seem to be universally difficult with poultry raising – such as finding food for caged poultry or finding the time to devote to a more intensive model of farming. There was one more interesting point that I hadn’t heard. They were worried that if they put all the chickens in a fenced in area, then someone could very easily steal them! I never thought of that…

CARE staff discuss model farms with the elders of the community

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PPLI) – Avian Influenza in Southeast Asia.

Funded by the UK’s DFID, the PPLI was launched in 2001 by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in order to “facilitate and support the formulation and implementation of livestock-related policies and institutional changes that have a positive impact on the world’s poor”. Their website provides a valuable livelihoods perspective to the issue of AI in Southeast Asia and offers some great visual data for AI and poultry production in Vietnam. Additionally, the document “HPAI Control Measures in Household Incomes in Vietnam” (attached and found on the web page) focuses upon the need for local participation in the design of surveillance, control and traceability schemes. The authors highlight the need to include the rural poor in risk reduction strategies and stress the importance for national policies to address local conditions and local incentives.

Also, click on “chicken economics” (to the left of the webpage) for a great little animation that simply describes the place of poultry production within the household economy.

Source: The Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative (PPLI):

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Avian Flu Audio Clip (OneWorld Radio Africa)

Please click on the link below to hear the short interview with Professor Nyaga.

64 kbps Mpeg Audio

"In June this year Professor Nyaga from the University of Nairobi attended an international research meeting in Nairobi. He spoke to Georgina Smith about the risks for the commercial industry, and poorer rural poultry keepers. He also offered some advice on what to look out for in infected birds."

Source: OneWorld Radio Africa (

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Helpful Picture that Illustrates the Spread of Avian Influenza

Source: Harder, Timm C. and Ortrud Werner. "Avian Influenza." Accessed 3 March 2007.