Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Issues surrounding pandemic preparedness took precedence at the 124th assembly (Jan 19-26th in Geneva) of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization. In a report to the assembly, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, advised:
“Influenza pandemics are historically recurring events. We are wise to prepare….On World Health Day this year, we will be looking at ways to ensure that hospitals and health care facilities survive, structurally and functionally, in times of natural disasters and conflict. This is another part of preparedness.”

Countries were urged to cooperate with each other to solve health care and licensure issues surrounding a pending influenza pandemic. Vaccine-sharing/distribution was encouraged, and expanding the capacities of developing countries for vaccine-production was also addressed.

To see Dr. Margaret Chan’s full report, go to the World Health Organization.
Image Source: USA Today

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Vietnam Declares State of Emergency

From UPI, via DNI Daily Digest:

"HANOI, Vietnam, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The government of Vietnam has announced emergency measures to prevent the spread of a bird flu epidemic from poultry to humans.

Thousands of infected birds have been culled since Type A bird flu was discovered in seven provinces, the Vietnam news service VNS reported Wednesday.

The latest province to suffer an outbreak is Bach Ninh where more than 100 ducks found dead on two farms tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered all government offices and relevant agencies to see that strict prevention measures are implemented to keep the disease from being transmitted to humans.

He also asked that research into development of a vaccine against the H5N1 strain of the virus be accelerated."

Smuggling & Cockfighting: Poultry Underworld Threatens Biosecurity

Bali/Indonesia: The first case of human H5N1 infection since 2007 has reappeared in Bali. The 20-year old patient is from Badung, a region famous for underground cockfighting. Infected poultry had been detected in Badung the week prior, and Balinese authorities have speculated that the transportation of live poultry into Bali from the mainland for the purposes of cockfighting is a likely culprit for the recent surge of H5N1 in fowl. Both cockfighting and unlicensed live animal transportation are banned by the government. However, cockfighting is a heavily traditional Balinese activity and remains prevalent on the island despite government regulations. Both poultry smuggling and cockfighting represent a threat to biosecurity, since illegal handlers are less likely to screen sick poultry and follow bird flu precautionary measures.

For more information, go to Chen Qi- A Morning Fresh Breeze and CrofsBlog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

China, Vietnam & Egypt Continue to Make Headlines with Recent H5N1 Cases

The 55th case of human H5N1 infection in Egypt was announced yesterday on Feb. 9th. An 18-month boy with influenza symptoms was checked into a hospital in the Menia governate on the 7th. The boy reportedly had contact with sick poultry prior to being hospitalized. According to the World Health Organization, the boy is recovering and in stable condition.

A 28-year old women from the Quang Ninh province with H5N1 infection has been named Vietnam's first official human case of the virus in 2009. The woman has been hospitalized for nearly a week and is in critical condition. After WHO confirms the case, Vietnam's human H5N1 case will tally 108, with 52 of those cases resulting in fatalities.

For more information, go to CIDRAP.

In the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, over 13,000 fowl were culled Feb. 10th after dead birds in the area were confirmed to have died of bird flu. News of avian infection comes as a relief, since China has raised international speculation after reporting disproportionately high numbers of human H5N1 cases and little to no poultry outbreaks. China attempted to quell fears of human-to-human transmission by revealing that genetic analysis of the viruses isolated from the recent human cases did not indicate any additional mutations to enable it to spread from human-to-human.

For more information, go to the DNI Avian Influenza Daily Digest.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Poultry Outbreaks Continue Around the World

India: The district of Cooch Behar in West Bengal was declared “avian flu-affected” by the district magistrate on January 31st. In response to recent outbreaks and die-offs in birds, the government has ordered the culling of 45,000 backyard poultry in the villages of Uttar Dangkoba and Nagar Bhangni, to be conducted over the next three days.
Source: Crofsblog

Indonesia: Authorities in Bogor, West Java are taking protective measures in response to Jakarta’s most recent H5N1 case fatalities in humans by culling hundreds of poultry in Kelurahan Kedung Badak and Kecamatan Tanah Sareal after several poultry deaths were attributed to bird flu.
Source: Bird Flu Information Corner

Vietnam: After a promising 4 months without any reported AI cases, the district of Tran Van Thoi in the southern Ca Mau province has officially lost its bird flu-free status. The reemergence of the virus has already made a sizeable impact on the district’s poultry, wiping out 460 ducks on one local farm alone.
Source: Xinhuanet