posted by admin on 13/09/06
Indonesia is the world's worst-affected country by bird flu
LOCAL officials in Indonesia's West Java province have ordered an emergency cull of some 4500 chickens to contain a new outbreak of the bird flu virus among the poultry population.
No human infections were reported in the quick spread of the H5N1 avian flu virus, which killed around 1500 chickens in two villages of West Java's Kuningan district last week.
Asep, an official from the Kuningan's district government office, said workers immediately began culling poultry in the villages and in surrounding areas last Saturday to contain the outbreak.
``We will continue until (Sunday),'' said Asep. ``After the outbreak was positive, we decided to cull.''
Indonesia is the world's worst-affected country by bird flu, with 48 human deaths and millions of birds infected in 29 of the country's 33 provinces.
Vietnam is in second place with 42 deaths, but has reported no new cases this year, while Indonesia has had 36.
In the US, three experimental vaccines using live but weakened versions of the H5N1 bird flu virus appeared to protect animals from infection, and might offer a way to stockpile vaccines ahead of a pandemic, researchers said on Monday.
They said the approach was already being tested in people, and might provide the start of a repository of vaccines against various potential strains of pandemic influenza.
``We have been developing live, attenuated influenza virus vaccines because they have properties that make them attractive vaccines for the prevention of pandemic influenza in humans,'' the researchers wrote in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.
Unlike some of the other experimental vaccines being developed, it takes only a single dose of a live, weakened vaccine to stimulate a good immune response, the researchers said.
``If an influenza pandemic were imminent or underway, we would need a vaccine that could stimulate immunity quickly, preferably with a single dose,'' said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr Anthony Fauci.
An updated diagnostic test can simultaneously detect whether someone is suffering from an H5 strain of bird flu or seasonal influenza, its developer said in London.
The improved version eliminates the need for two tests, requires only one sample and can provide a diagnosis quickly.
``It is more efficient in that you can screen for H5 and also identify seasonal flu A and B,'' Dr Martin Curran, of Britain's Health Protection Agency who devised the test, said in an interview.
He told a meeting at Warwick University that timing would be vital in dealing with an outbreak of suspected bird flu.
``It is important that people are treated very quickly and that any contacts are treated as well. You need the results within 24 hours for Tamiflu to be effective,'' he said, referring to Swiss drug maker Roche's antiviral drug.
The updated test will be available in all HPA laboratories as part of its screening for H5 bird flu in the coming flu season, which begins in October in Britain.
Sarawak is on track to be declared free from a serious outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, as new cases continue their downward trend, according to its deputy health minister.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said in his daily update that a total of 16 new HFMD cases had been reported in the last 24 hours in Sarawak, but he added that there were no new critical cases.
``The highest number of cases was in Miri, followed by Kuching and Sibu respectively,'' he said, adding that to date Sarawak had seen a total of 14,253 cases.
Dr Chan said that Sarawak, which has been hit twice by HFMD epidemics this year, is requesting more funds from the Health Ministry to study how the disease is transmitted.
DPA, Reuters, Bernama