Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Nigerian Poultry Workers Exposed To H5N1 For 14 Days, None Were Infected

The H5N1 blog has excerpts from a research report looking into a H5N1 outbreak in Nigeria in February 2006. For some 14 days, nearly 300 poultry workers and more than two dozen laboratory workers were believed to have been exposed to the H5N1 virus, but none fell ill with the virus, and none of the exposed are believed to show H5N1 immunity.

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Sounds like great news. At least in early 2006, the H5N1 virus was having difficulty making the jump from infected birds to humans.

Let's hope the virus continues to encounter such difficulties, crossing from species to another.

Friday, November 16, 2007

As Bird Flu Returns To The British Countryside, Dark Rumours Sweep Farming Villages

'Precautionary' Culls Of Non-H5N1 Poultry Begins

The H5N1 virus is believed to have infected a second poultry farm in East Anglia. The culls are continuing, and authorities are not waiting for the virus to show itself before tens of thousands of birds are slaughtered.

According to this story in the Times Online, some 22,000 free-range turkeys were "loaded into mobile gas chambers" at four farms yesterday :

There was as yet no sign of the highly pathogenic avian influenza strain H5N1 among the flocks. Instead these birds had been condemned by the movements of a handful of workers between the farms and Redgrave Park Farm, the site of the original outbreak.

Fred Landeg, the acting chief veterinary officer, described the cull as a precautionary measure. Nevertheless, in villages on the Norfolk-Suffolk border the news provoked disquiet.

Rumours were running through the villages. The farmer said he’d heard that all the chickens born on Tuesday at a large commercial hatchery were gassed after news broke of the outbreak of H5N1. The hatchery denied this.

While officials sought the source of the outbreak, locals in the White Hart pub reached their own conclusions. “It’s all the wild birds that come here,” said David Bryan, 64, a retired builder from Redgrave.

Local ornithologists leapt to the wild birds’ defence. Paul Stancliffe, from the British Trust for Ornithology, which has its headquarters nearby in Thetford, said it could not be the wigeons because “they have been here since September”, and the swans on the lake appeared to be of British origin.

So where did the virus come from to get inside the UK?

This local news story says that the four farms where culls are taking place all shared the same workers. The H5N1 virus has been known to survive on workboots and clothing. They clearly fear that workers have carried the virus from one farm to another. That's how the story goes today anyway.

During the 'Bernard Mathews' outbreak earlier this year, turkey sales fell by one-third, with hundreds of jobs lost.

With outbreaks of blue tongue and foot and mouth, and now bird flu, many Brits will be having a vegetarian Christmas.

An Interesting 'Bird Flu In The UK' Timeline From BBC News

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bird Flu Returns To Britain

Thousands Of Christmas Poultry Birds Culled

More than 6000 ducks, turkey and geese were culled yesterday in East Anglia, in an effort to halt the spread of H5 bird flu virus. Wild birds are thought to be responsible for infecting poultry birds on a free range farm.

UPDATE : It has now been confirmed that the bird flu virus found on the farm is the deadly H5N1 strain. More culls are expected.

From the Times Online :

Last night Fred Landeg, the acting Chief Veterinary Officer, ordered greater surveillance throughout Suffolk and parts of Norfolk and ordered farmers to lock up their poultry, a measure that confines hundreds of thousands of free-range birds to sheds.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also banned all pigeon-racing and halted all bird shows throughout England.

Veterinary experts believe that wild birds are the most likely cause of the disease — especially as a consignment of birds has not been brought to the farm for four weeks, and wild birds gather at a lake near the farm.

Nevertheless, movements on and off the farm, vehicles and visitors are being checked to ensure that there is no other route for the disease which could threaten other farms.

Mark Avery, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said it was possible that wild birds were a factor in this case.

“We don’t know of any recent outbreak of the deadly avian flu on the Continent but it is feasible that wild birds brought it. It is now just after the mass migration period but there was a cold weather snap in eastern Europe two weeks ago and though no big wild bird movements were noticed it is possible that an infected bird arrived here. But we need to know more about the epidemiology and the tracings before jumping to conclusions.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Indonesia : Bird Flu Claims Another Life - Toll At 91

From Xinhau :
An Indonesian man of 31 years old has died on avian influenza, the country's health ministry said here Saturday.

The man, from Riau province in Sumatra Island, died on Tuesday after three days treatment in a hospital. Laboratory tests indicated that he was contracted by H5N1 virus, said Djoko Suyono, official of the anti-bird flu centre of the ministry.

"He died on November 6. Two of laboratory tests showed that he is positive of bird flu," he told Xinhua.

The man died when he was shifting from a hospital in a regency to another one at the provincial capital of Pekanbaru, said Suyono.

He begun to have the symptoms of the disease three days before he went to the hospital, said Suyono.

No word yet on how the 31 year old came to be infected with H5N1.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bird Flu Still Spreading Through Asia, Africa

From VOA News :

Nations in Asia and Africa have had much success in stopping the spread of bird flu, but experts meeting in Bangkok this week say the H5N1 virus continues to spread in a number of countries.

Experts with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization say bird flu is still considered an animal disease, affecting only a small number of humans so far. But they say the threat of a human pandemic, in which millions could die, is still very real.

Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations' senior Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, told reporters in Bangkok Wednesday that while most nations have made progress in containing the virus' spread, there remain some problem areas.

"We've seen during the last three years that countries have invested a lot of resources in vaccination of poultry, in improving veterinary services, and also in what we call bio-security, in order to try to reduce the risk of...avian influenza continuing to circulate in poultry or in wild birds," he said. "We've seen in many countries, extraordinary success in getting this under control: (but) not everywhere. There's some problems in the region."

He says the virus continues to spread in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam in Asia, and Egypt and Nigeria in Africa.

Experts say nations that have yet to develop an export-oriented poultry industry are finding it more difficult to contain the disease.

They say Thailand, as one example, has had greater success in controlling bird flu, because it already had a veterinary system in place to support its sizable poultry exports.

Another challenge that could hinder efforts to contain the spread of H5N1 is the reluctance by some countries to hand over tissue samples of bird flu cases. China is one of them. Dr. Nabarro says negotiations continue in efforts to get Beijing to disclose more data and materials that could help scientists develop a vaccine.

"There are some situations in which countries have asked for clarification on the benefits that they're likely to get as a result of sharing samples, and there is some international negotiation under way at the moment to try to establish a satisfactory basis for sample-sharing by seeing whether or not it will be possible to ensure that those who do provide samples are able to benefit from products that are produced with the help of those samples," he said.

Suspected Human Bird Flu Deaths In Vietnam And Indonesia

The bird flu virus is gaining ground again in Vietnam, killing hundreds of ducks and reportedly claiming a human life as well :
A South Korean man died of pneumonia in Can Tho city Monday, local doctors, who suspect he had contracted bird flu, said.

The man was taken to the city General Hospital at 3:00AM Monday with high fever and breathing problems. He died at 2:00PM.

The doctors have sent his blood samples to Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City to test for the H5N1 strain of bird flu virus, which has caused 100 infections and 46 deaths in Vietnam in the last few years.

The Tangerang district of Indonesia has also seen another human bird flu death :
Suharda Ningrum said it was not yet clear whether the 30-year-old victim had been in contact with sick fowl, but chickens belonging to a neighbour had died suddenly. The woman lived in Tangerang, west of the capital Jakarta.

Contact with sick fowl is the most common way for humans to contract the H5N1 strain of the virus.

"Two tests were confirmed positive for bird flu. Her neighbour's chickens died suddenly but it is unclear whether she had direct contact with the dead fowl," said Ningrum, adding that the woman had died in Jakarta's Persahabatan hospital.

Children Warned To Be On Lookout for 'My Sick Pelican'

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service is undertaking an interesting educational initiative :

Australia's quarantine watchdog has turned to children's books to help stop the spread of bird flu into the country.

The Australian Quarantine Inspection Service has commissioned two Torres Strait women to write and illustrate a book called My Sick Pelican.

The book will be circulated through Torres Strait schools to help children identify sick birds.

AQIS risk monitoring manager Andrew Moss says residents are the frontline in helping to prevent the spread of avian diseases.

"To be able to deliver quarantine effectively there you need good community support," he said.

"The community is made up of children as well as adults and this is just another method among many to get quarantine measures into the community, so you've got good awareness at all levels."

The Torres Straits islands are situated at the very top of Australia, off north Queensland, and is seen as a 'gateway' for birds migrating from South East Asia into the country.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Bird Flu Takes A Firm Grip Across Europe

End Timers Looking Forward To A Bird Flu Pandemic?

This story about how the H5N1 virus is rapidly establishing itself in European countries reads mostly like a fact based, genuinely informative news story about the terrible reality that is the bird flu virus in Europe today, but....we'll get to the 'but' after this excerpt :

Bird flu may become entrenched throughout parts of Europe. Two months ago, German scientists discovered the fatal H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus in seemingly healthy ducks and geese. The fact that German waterfowl are now acting as vectors of the disease without showing symptoms presents an increased threat to human health, the Food and Agriculture Organization (fao) of the United Nations reported last Thursday.

The spread of avian influenza by birds resistant to the disease has caused it to become entrenched in Southeast Asian nations. If the birds do not show symptoms of the disease, infected birds are almost impossible to isolate or eradicate. Because of this, the fao has warned that Europe should prepare for more outbreaks.

Ukraine has about 20 million domestic ducks. Another 8 million ducks populate the Danube River delta in Romania. “These figures compare easily with chicken and waterfowl densities in Asia, where the virus continues to circulate among chickens but has found a niche in countries with tens of millions of domestic ducks and geese,” commented Jan Slingenbergh, the fao’s senior animal health officer.

“After Asia and Africa, Europe may become the third continent where the H5N1 strain could become endemic,” the fao warned.

The H5N1 strain is the most deadly form of bird flu that infects humans. It has been fatal in 204 of the 332 recorded human cases and has killed millions of birds worldwide. In addition to the destruction that an avian flu epidemic would wreak on the European poultry industry, the risk to human health cannot be ignored.

The 1918 Spanish flu that killed 40 million people was a type of avian influenza. Health experts fear that the H5N1 strain will mutate to a form that can be transmitted human to human. Lee Jong-Wook, the late director general of the World Health Organization, stated that “It is only a matter of time before an avian-flu virus—most likely H5N1—acquires the ability to be transmitted from human to human, sparking the outbreak of human pandemic influenza. We don’t know when this will happen. But we do know that it will happen.”

But the story finishes in a very 'Oh Shit!' kind of way :
This silent spread of H5N1 avian influenza may be the start of a European epidemic. Time will tell, but we can be certain that biblical prophecies of severe pandemics in the end time will be fulfilled soon.

What the...?

The deeply troubling thing about that comment is, of course, that millions of Americans are waiting for the supposed End Times to become a reality. When they get End Times, they get the second coming of their Messiah.

It's absolutely shocking to think that there are American evangelicals telling their followers that a bird flu pandemic is going to be a good thing. If bird flu is one of the End Times plagues, then why would they want to stop it? Meaning that why then would these millions of End Times devotees do anything to protect themselves and their neighbours from halting the spread of the deadly virus if it was to show up in their towns or cities?

Will we see End Times evangelicals telling their millions of followers to, for example, not bother washing their hands, or reporting a shedful of dead poultry birds?

Sorry, but this kind of talk about one of the most deadly challenges facing humanity is the stuff of nightmares.

How do you defend a country as big as the United States when millions of its own people might actually be wanting the bird flu virus to become pandemic?

When this blog's American readers hear local evangelicals talking 'rapturously' about a bird flu pandemic, double check your stockpiles. One of them might be just mad enough to want to help the virus to spread and take hold in the United States.

The above excerpted story was taken from a news site called 'The Trumpet'. Here's how they describe themselves :
The Trumpet uses a single overarching criterion that sets it apart from other news sources and keeps it focused like a laser beam on what truly is important. That criterion is prophetic significance. The Trumpet seeks to show how current events are fulfilling the biblically prophesied description of the prevailing state of affairs just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

End Timers for the Pandemic?