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Ciptapangan Visitor
Avian Flu News Tracker
posted by admin on 29/05/06

Saturday, May 27 

7:20 a.m.: Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu ordered the creation of a national center to coordinate the handling of bird flu as the number of outbreaks of the H5N1 strain continued to climb. The center will be called the National Center to 
coordinate Bird Flu and will be run by specialists from the finance, interior, environment, health and transportation ministries, and public health authorities, Mr. Tariceanu said after meeting with experts. Authorities reported 83 outbreaks of H5N1 in recent weeks after farms in the central town of Codlea illegally sold live poultry to small farmers in nearby areas, facilitating the spread of the lethal virus. 

4:20 a.m:. A director general at Indonesia's health ministry, said that a WHO laboratory in Hong Kong has confirmed five more cases of human bird flu, three of which were fatal. All five had earlier tested positive for the H5N1 virus in a local laboratory. Bird flu has now infected 48 people in Indonesia, 36 of whom died. 

3:40 a.m.: The World Health Organization has for the first time asked the maker of the anti-bird flu drug Tamiflu, Roche Holding, to ready the global stockpile after possible human-to-human transmission was suspected in a family cluster in Indonesia, a WHO official said. The WHO in Jakarta received word from the Indonesian Health Ministry on Monday of possible human-to-human spread of the virus in Kubu Simbelang village in North Sumatra. More. 

Friday, May 26

4:35 p.m.: The Bush administration has been making its way through the 50 states giving its spiel on pandemic preparedness. But on his visit to New Hampshire, HHS Sec. Michael Leavitt tried to balance the rhetoric a bit, telling residents to get prepared, then relax. "Is this Y2K all over again? Is this the little boy who cried wolf?'' Leavitt said. "I hope so, but if history is any guide, pandemics happen." As for estimates that two million Americans would die if there were a pandemic, Leavitt said: "That sounds like a Stephen King novel. It's not. …This is a killer virus." By comparison, seasonal flu kills an average of 36,000 people a year. 

10:25 a.m.: As the federal government pushes for local governments and U.S. companies to shoulder a large part of pandemic preparedness, the National Retail Federation announced that it has added a flu-preparedness session to its loss-prevention conference next week in Minneapolis. The session, set for Tuesday, will be headed by Bill Jones, director of food safety and quality assurance at Sears and Michael Campion, who spearheads Minnesota's bird-flu preparedness effort. The two will outline how retailers can prepare for a pandemic and communicate to shareholders should a pandemic arrive. 

9:50 a.m.: The U.N. World Health Assembly voted to roll out a global-warning system for bird flu a year early. A key element of the fast-reporting system is "prompt notification to WHO of human influenza cause by a new virus subtype." The new system had been scheduled to begin operating on June 15, 2007, but the increased risk to human health prompted the group, the chief decision-making body for WHO, to expedite the plan. 

9:15 a.m.: The WHO isn't ruling out the possibility of human-to-human transmission in the Indonesian family cluster, but it's currently exploring possible animal sources including swine from a nearby village that had tested positive for avian-flu antibodies, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported. 

7:30 a.m.: An eight-year-old girl in China was cured of bird flu, the sixth known turnaround, Chinese state media reported. Sun Yue was hospitalized in Sichuan province a week after showing symptoms of fever and pneumonia. Doctors used minimal antibiotics during her treatment to avoid the risk of fungal infections or "bacterial maladjustments," the Xinhua News Agency said. The head of the hospital's anti-infection department said, "All her symptoms have gone." 

1 a.m.: The Wall Street Journal reports. McDonald's has prepared an advertising campaign to reassure customers that its chicken is safe should there ever be an avian-flu outbreak in the U.S. More. 

Thursday, May 25 

11:30 p.m.: Two more siblings in Indonesia have died from H5N1. The brother and sister were from West Java. Samples were sent to a WHO lab for confirmation. The family cluster of victims was from north Sumatra. See a map of Indonesia from the CIA World Factbook. 

10:30 a.m.: U.S. poultry producer Sanderson Farms swung to a second-quarter loss, citing an oversupply of chicken in the marketplace spurred in part by avian-flu fears outside the U.S. Sanderson's loss was $16.6 million, or 83 cents a share, compared with year-ago income of $26.5 million, or $1.32 a share. Sanderson said it will reduce weekly production by about 4.3% and will postpone construction of a new poultry facility in Waco, Texas. More. 

9:45 a.m.: Once you get over the shock of real cities quarantining their citizens (as opposed to ABC made-for-TV movie cities), the question becomes: Do they work? With one eye on the Indonesian family cluster, the collective bird-flu watching community is keeping the other eye on Romania to see if the quarantines there are effective in stemming bird flu. Some international-health experts question the necessity of quarantines, the International Herald Tribune reported. If the Romanian quarantines fail, other governments will likely skip this step in the future, Crawford Kilian wrote on his H5N1 blog. 

8:30 a.m.: Some 300 scientists and animal experts from over 100 countries will gather in Rome next week for a conference aimed at examining the role of wild birds in spreading H5N1. The conference, May 30-31, is sponsored by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, based in Rome, and by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health. 

7 a.m.: Bulgarian authorities convened an urgent meeting of a bird-flu panel, worried by the numerous outbreaks of the disease in neighboring Romania. "The situation in Romania is very worrying," Agriculture Minister Nihat Kabil said. "We have taken all precautions...but we will discuss additional measures," he said, without elaborating. Romania has detected 44 outbreaks of H5N1 since last week. Bulgaria -- which has a border with Romania to the north, mostly along the Danube River -- has reported no cases of bird flu in domestic fowl so far. 

6:45 a.m.: The Czech Republic reported two more dead swans have tested positive for H5N1. So far, the H5N1 strain has been found in 14 birds, all swans, in the Czech Republic. 

Wednesday, May 24 

8:15 p.m.: An outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu has been found in migratory birds in a remote area of western China, the government says. The case occurred in an isolated area of Tibet and neighboring Qinghai province on a same migration route where other wild birds died in an outbreak in late April, the Agriculture Ministry said. 

2:45 p.m: The Department of Agriculture this week gave journalists a tour of the U.S.'s official bird-flu testing facility, which is usually locked under high security. Preliminary tests for H5 will be conducted across the country, and are going on right now in Alaska, where birds are already mingling in the migration season. But the final clearinghouse to determine if a sample is H5N1 is the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which sits on 640 acres in Ames, Iowa. Phase one of the NVSL's confirmation process is to inject the sample into bird eggs, which are then tested five days later. If positive, the sample moves to phase two, which is testing for H5N1. If positive for H5N1, then the sample is injected into healthy, caged chickens for confirmation. 

11:35 a.m.:'s David Gaffen reports on the impact of bird flu on the market. The impact is hard to measure but clearest in the stocks of specific biotech companies such as Biocryst Pharmaceutical, whose influenza inhibitor is being tested on avian flu. Biocryst stock is up 14% today on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Biotech stock researcher David Miller said that, while the Indonesian family cluster has ratcheted up concern, WHO has said nothing has fundamentally changed. "That means any trading you're doing in these names is based on the greater fool theory," Mr. Miller wrote on More. 

9:55 a.m.: It was reported Tuesday that Romania is quarantining dozens of communities over a bird-flu outbreak there, but the statistics are stunning: 13,000 people are being quarantined in a quarter of the capital city Bucharest for one to three weeks, the AFP news service reported. Residents are being cut off as streets are blocked and all businesses in the area are being closed during the quarantine period. The concern arose after 38 outbreaks of bird flu were detected in Romania in a 10-day period. 

9 a.m.: WSJ's Nicholas Zamiska reports. The WHO has decided not to convene a group of international health experts in the next few days to discuss raising the pandemic-alert level due to the family cluster of bird-flu victims in Indonesia. The cluster has heightened concerns that the virus may be able to pass directly between people, although so far there is no sign that it has mutated or even spread beyond the family. The cause for concern is the cluster's unprecedented size, combined with the fact that the virus may have spread directly from a woman to her nephew and then from the nephew to his father. More.
4:20 a.m.: The WHO described the deaths of six Indonesian family members from a possible single-source infection of bird flu as the most important development in the spread of the virus since 2003, saying the size of the cluster and difficulties in determining the source were real reasons for concern. 

4 a.m.: Japan lifted an import ban on Philippine poultry products, almost a year after the Philippines voluntarily halted shipments following an outbreak of avian flu at a duck farm in Bulacan province, north of Manila, Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban said. The outbreak turned out to be of the low pathogenic H5N3 strain and not H5N1.

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