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Avian Flu News Tracker
posted by admin on 11/05/06

Wednesday, May 10

4:50 p.m.: For the critics of ABC's bird-flu movie who worried that it painted a false impression of what might happen in the event of a pandemic: Good news! As it turns out, not that many people saw it, despite ABC's frenzied promotions for the May sweeps event. Broadcast & Cable reported that Fox's "American Idol" landed the top spot among viewers for the 8-9 p.m. slot, followed by CBS's "NCIS," the WB's "Gilmore Girls" and NBC's "Outrageous Moments." "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" came in fifth, dragging ABC's ratings down 40% from the same time a year earlier. (The second hour of the movie didn't fare any better.) The movie did, however, eke past UPN's "America's Next Top Model," which came in sixth place. 

2:25 p.m.: WSJ's Nicholas Zamiska reports. Two generic drugs that are plentiful and cheaper than Tamiflu have proven effective in treating H5N1 in humans, according to a study that will appear in a coming issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The research erodes conventional wisdom that these older drugs -- amantadine and rimantadine -- are useless against bird flu in humans. 

12:30 p.m.: Insurance analysts at Standard & Poor's believe that the risk of an avian-flu pandemic is remote, according to a report from the ratings service. Even if the virus becomes transmissible between humans, the analysts said they believe the industry would be able to withstand any insurance-related losses. 

11 a.m.: Avian flu has largely been thought of as a respiratory disease -- because that's where human become infected with it -- but a virologist at an Oxford research facility in Vietnam caused a stir recently when he suggested it could be transmitted in humans through the gut. The Effect Measure blog weighs in on how this is possible and why it's a cause for concern.

9:05 a.m.: Tyson Foods, the world's largest meat producer, said its surveys show no drop in U.S. consumer confidence in poultry. To ensure that U.S. consumers don't succumb to bird-flu jitters, Tyson is distributing information about safety precautions that the U.S. poultry industry is taking, and even invited reporters to its headquarters in Arkansas to lay out its preparedness plans and drive home the point that poultry that is cooked properly poses no threat to consumers. Tyson and other poultry producers also ran public-service announcements during ABC's bird-flu movie. Tyson said its 6,700 contracted poultry farms in the U.S. have for several months been under "code yellow" precautions, the second highest level, which includes banning nonessential visitors to its farms, disinfecting wheels of vehicles entering and leaving and regularly testing flocks before slaughter. A "code red" would involve a virtual lockdown in the event of a health emergency. 

1 a.m.: WSJ's Bill Tomson reports on the new test that checks poultry meat directly for bird flu. If there is an outbreak of H5N1 in a commercial poultry flock, the USDA said the poultry industry has agreed to hold that poultry to allow the USDA to test it.

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