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Avian Flu News Tracker
posted by admin on 16/05/06

Monday, May 15 

2:20 p.m: The spread of bird flu in Europe and Africa is likely to slow over the northern summer months, but the threat of a global pandemic won't decrease, international health officials said at the start of a conference to review Europe's preparedness. "In my view, there is no change in the threat of a mutation taking place," said David Nabarro, senior influenza coordinator for the WHO. "But I think we are better equipped now to contain it, if it starts." He lauded what he called "dramatic improvement" in international cooperation.

7:45 a.m.: The chairman of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control Management Board, Marc Sprenger, said in Sweden that the EU is lagging behind the U.S. in developing a joint preparedness plan. 

12:05 a.m.: IBM is expected to announce that it plans to make some of its advanced software technologies available to public-health organizations and scientists around the world to help them more accurately predict and prepare for the potential spread of avian flu or other infectious diseases 

Sunday, May 14 

2:00 p.m.: A fifth member of an Indonesian family has died of bird flu, according to local tests, a senior medical official said Sunday. The other four died from the disease early last week, said the head of the Health Ministry's office of communicable disease control. In all, eight members of the family in Tanah Karo village on Sumatra are suspected of having contracted the virulent H5N1 bird flu virus. Indonesia's official human death toll from the virus is now 25, the world's second-highest after Vietnam. 

11 a.m.: The New York Times reports on some encouraging signs from Asia. "Vietnam, which has had almost half of the human cases of H5N1 flu in the world, has not seen a single case in humans or a single outbreak in poultry this year. Thailand, the second-hardest-hit nation until Indonesia recently passed it, has not had a human case in nearly a year or one in poultry in six months. Encouraging signs have also come from China, though they are harder to interpret." 

4:15 a.m.: WSJ's Nicholas Zamiska reports. An unusually large cluster of suspected bird flu cases among eight members of an extended family in Indonesia has caught the attention of local and international health officials on guard against any sign that the virus has evolved to spread easily among humans, the possible prelude to a pandemic. More.

Saturday, May 13 

3 p.m.: Barron's Curt Thacker reports. Poultry stocks continue to perch near one-year lows. Chicken leg-quarter prices were up 10 cents from March lows to 24 to 25 cents per pound, but remained uninspiring, compared with 38 cents or 39 cents a pound a year earlier. 

10:40 a.m.: Indonesian and WHO officials were investigating eight suspected bird flu cases, four of them fatal, in the Tanah Karo district of northern Sumatra Island. Tests on blood samples on the villagers had yet to be completed, an official said, but a WHO team had "checked the village and at this stage we can say they are still suspect at the moment." 

9:55 a.m.: Romania began culling more than 2,000 birds in the village of Hurezu in the northwest Transylvanian region after more than a dozen dead birds in the community tested positive for bird flu, an official said. Further tests are necessary to determine if it is the H5N1 strain. This is the first outbreak of bird flu in Romania since the end of April and the first time bird flu has been detected in Transylvania. 

Friday, May 12 

4:35 p.m.: France lifted its order for farmers to confine poultry in all but one region in southern France. The decision was based on studies that have shown a declining risk of H5N1. At the height of the bird-flu scare in Europe earlier this year, fowl had been ordered confined in 58 regions of France. The restrictions will be lifted as of Saturday on all but the Dombes district in the southeast, which has many ponds and bird parks. 

11 a.m.: Malaysia's poultry industry lost 1.5 billion ringitt (US$419 million) in just two months after H5N1 emerged in three states earlier this year, Malaysia's Star newspaper reported. Poultry sales had dropped between 20% and 30% amid consumer bird-flu jitters, but prices are currently recovering. The government has said it will declare Malaysia H5N1-free if no new cases are detected by the third week of May. No human cases have been reported there. 

3:35 a.m.: "In the event of a global flu pandemic, federal officials have said they intend to give vaccine first to health-care workers, followed by the oldest, sickest patients," the Washington Post reported. "But one of the government's top medical ethicists is challenging that approach, arguing it is more appropriate to give young adults priority because they are at higher risk of dying in a flu pandemic and still have many productive years left." 

3:30 a.m.: Five local Chinese officials have been fired for mishandling an outbreak of H5N1 in poultry that killed 1,800 birds, the China Daily newspaper said. The officials in the southwestern province of Sichuan failed to investigate in December when a major poultry farmer reported the deaths of chickens and ducks. The Health Ministry disclosed the outbreak in January and said it was under control. 

2 a.m.: The WHO said that a baby in the Red Sea state of Djibouti has contracted the H5N1 virus, marking the first case of bird flu in east Africa. The two-year-old girl is still alive and in stable condition, a WHO spokesman said. Samples from three of the child's siblings were sent to a U.S. Naval research facility in Cairo. The children live in a rural village near the border with Somalia.

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