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Avian Flu News Tracker
posted by admin on 03/05/06

Pilgrim’s Pride posted quarterly loss, similar to Tyson Foods

Tuesday, May 2

5:30 p.m.: Public awareness of avian flu has increased in the last year, but few Americans have made any preparations for an outbreak, according to a new Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive poll. Sixty-five percent of Americans surveyed said they are familiar with avian flu, compared with fewer than half of those polled a year ago. Concerns about an outbreak are increasing: 44% are somewhat concerned about the possibility of a pandemic, compared with 39% in 2005, and 20% said they are very concerned, compared with 12%. But few Americans are preparing for the possibility of a pandemic, according to the survey of 2,029 U.S. adults.

10:05 a.m.: A strain of bird flu not dangerous to people turned up at a live poultry market in southern New Jersey during routine quarterly testing last week. The state's department of agriculture said further tests are being conducted on the samples. No birds died from the virus, but the market owner voluntarily killed the nearly 140 birds at the market and cleaned and sanitized the facility.

9:55 a.m.: A vaccine developed by Vical Inc. was helpful in a test at St. Jude's Children Hospital in protecting mice and ferrets from a "highly lethal avian-flu virus," the company and hospital announced. A doctor on the hospital's infectious-disease team said that such a vaccine could potentially protect humans against H5N1 if it mutates into a form transmissible from human to human. The results are expected to be released on Wednesday.

9:40 a.m.: Employers should have plans to keep workers at least three feet apart, colleges should consider which dormitories could be used to quarantine the sick, and flight crews should have surgical masks to put on coughing travelers under a draft of the government's pandemic flu plan. A response plan scheduled to be released at the White House on Wednesday warns employers that as much as 40% of the work force could be off the job and says every segment of society must prepare.
9:30 a.m.: Dan Burrows of MarketWatch reports. Chicken and turkey producer Pilgrim's Pride posted a quarterly loss, hurt by fears of avian flu that are contributing to an oversupply of meat in the marketplace. "The spread of H5N1 avian influenza in parts of Europe and Asia has significantly reduced export demand, leading to higher inventory levels and contributing to lower overall market pricing," O.B. Goolsby Jr., president and CEO, said. The results came a day after Tyson Foods posted a quarterly loss because of bird-flu fears and the related protein glut.

3:45 a.m.: A top bird-flu expert predicted that the H5N1 virus wouldn't reach the U.S. this year via migratory birds, but warned it will eventually arrive -- possibly through infected birds smuggled into the country. Robert G. Webster, a virologist at the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., said it has been historically rare for bird influenza viruses to reach the Americas from Europe.

2:45 a.m.: The WHO believes a bird-flu pandemic can still be prevented if authorities are ready to implement rapid containment measures -- from the large-scale distribution of antiviral drugs to the closure of schools. The WHO's regional director, Dr. Shigeru Omi, said if such interventions are successful "we may prevent hundreds of millions of serious human infections and millions of deaths." He added, "But if we fail, the consequences for societies, economies and global health could be immeasurable," as Asia kick-started its own badly needed stockpile of Tamiflu, one of the few drugs believed effective in treating the disease.

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