Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bird Flu Spread Leads To Calls To Seal India-Bangladesh Border

If such action is taken, this will be the biggest, and most costly, border closure due to the spread of the H5N1 virus so far.

As deadly as the virus has proven to be in poultry populations, dealing with outbreaks is proving to be an extremely costly business for governments. Sealing borders will only be done when the potential financial losses from likely outbreaks are shown to vastly outweigh the monstrous losses and costs that would result from closing the border between India and Bangladesh.

From NDTV :
''Unless the border is sealed, it is not possible to control the spread of the virus and it is hard to believe that there is no movement across the border. The border is too porous,'' said Mrinmoy Burman, assistant director of Animal Resource Development Department.

''The areas affected are all bordering Bangladesh. If Bangladesh doesn't take this up immediately, it will affect us very badly. There is fear psychosis now,'' said D C Das, SDM Sadar, Agartala.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Bird Flu Virus Found Spreading In Dogs

Excerpts from Bloomberg story, April 2 :
A bird flu virus that killed dogs in South Korea can spread from one dog to another, showing that the disease is capable of crossing species and causing widespread sickness in mammals, a study found.

A cocker spaniel and a miniature schnauzer were among dozens of dogs in South Korea sickened by an H3N2 strain from birds, researchers said in a study published in the May issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. Viruses taken from the sick canines were used in an experiment later to see if pathogens were capable of spreading from dog to dog.

The findings add to scientific understanding of how flu viruses evolve in animals and the risks they pose to humans. A separate bird flu strain called H5N1 has killed 236 people worldwide by spreading primarily from birds to humans. If a deadly H5N1 strain evolved like the strain in today's study to spread from one human to another, it could kill millions.

"Transmission of avian influenza A virus to a new mammalian species is of great concern because it potentially allows the virus to adapt to a new mammalian host, cross new species barriers, and acquire pandemic potential,'' the Korean researchers said.

Tests on specimens collected from three of the dogs showed they were infected with H3N2 viruses closely resembling those found in chickens and doves in South Korea in 2003. The pathogens may have been transmitted from birds to dogs fed raw, minced meat from infected ducks and chickens, the authors said.

Avian flu viruses are known to transmit to unrelated mammalian species only rarely, the researchers said. Bird- derived H7 and H4 flu viruses were reported in seals in the early 1980s, and the H5N1 bird-flu strain was found in a dog that fed on a duck infected with the virus in Thailand in 2004, according to the study.

Large cats, including tigers and leopards, kept in capacity and fed on infected poultry carcasses, have also been infected and developed severe disease. Almost two of every three human H5N1 cases were fatal, according to the World Health Organization.

Dogs may be more susceptible to flu strains carried by birds because both canines and birds share a type of virus- binding site in their respiratory systems that is less common in humans.

The bird-like H3N2 virus may be capable of spreading between dogs because it was excreted in nasal discharges and caused sneezing of experimentally infected beagle puppies, the study found. The virus wasn't active in their feces.

Evidence of avian flu in pet dogs "raises the concern that dogs may be become a new source of transmission of novel influenza viruses, especially where avian influenza viruses are circulating or have been detected,'' the authors said.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Indonesian Health Minister Claim That US Is Developing Bird Flu As BioWeapon Dismissed

Pakistan Official Confirms First Human To Human Spread Of H5N1

Indonesia's health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, has been a thorn in the side of the World Health Organisation, and the pharmaceutical behemoths, refusing to hand over samples of Indonesian bird flu because she very reasonably fears that these strains will be patented and Indonesia will be forced to pay billions to access H5N1 vaccines in the future.

Supari has published a book called 'It's Time For The World To Change - The Divine Hand Behind Avian Influenza, and kicked up a small storm of controversy over her claims that avian influenza viruses were being 'weaponised' in American bioweapons labs. The book won an endorsement from Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Excerpts from an interview with Supari on AM :
Dr Supari expresses alarm at WHO laboratories sharing bird flu virus data with the United States national laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where nuclear weapons are developed.

"Whether they use is it to make vaccine or develop chemical weapons, would depend on the need and interest of the US Government. It is indeed a very dangerous situation for the destiny of humanity", she writes and goes on to say ".. it is a matter of choice whether to use the material for vaccines or biological weapon development".

SITI FADILAH SUPARI: I didn’t know whether our virus will be develop into a vaccine or will be develop into a biological weapon. So just a question - I didn’t blame United States, I didn’t blame any country.
Supari cops plenty back from the US government and the World Health Organisation :

The United States has rejected the Indonesian Health Minister's claims that it is using bird flu samples to produce biological weapons and World Health Organisation officials have condemned allegations of conspiring to profit from bird flu vaccines.

The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is understood to have ordered the minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, to recall copies of her book on avian influenza, which alleges the US and the WHO are conspiring against developing countries by seizing control of bird flu samples.

WHO officials said they were dismayed by some of the claims and urged Dr Supari to do more to control bird flu's spread and end her refusal to share virus samples - which is hampering attempts to find a cure.

A US State Department spokeswoman, Susan Stahl, denied Dr Supari's claim that Indonesian virus samples had been sent to a biological weapons laboratory in Los Alamos. The laboratory possessed no bird flu viruses from Indonesia or elsewhere, she said.

The facility's only involvement was hosting a database of publicly available genetic-sequencing data to help track the evolution of the virus, she said.

The WHO's assistant director-general for Health Security, David Heymann, said he was puzzled by the claims.

"I don't understand why they would take this virus to make a biological weapon; it doesn't transmit from human to human. Indonesia needs to spend more time on dealing with infections with chickens and stopping humans from being infected."

Claims that H5N1 was a bioweapon have been aired since the virus reappeared in Hong Kong in 1997, and started killing humans along with markets full of poultry.

When the avian influenza virus began ravaging poultry farms in rural Russia in the early 2000s, a US bioweapons conspiracy theory gained popularity. It went like this : the deadly virus was a US bioweapon designed to knock out local poultry farms and open up the market to cheap American poultry imports, mostly chicken wings and legs, which Russian poultry farmers called "Bush Legs."

A senior Pakistan government official has claimed the world's first human to human transmission of the H5N1 virus occurred in Pakistan in November 2007 :
A man in northern Pakistan passed the deadly bird flu virus to two of his brothers, and the virus killed one of them, in the first known human-to-human transmission in Pakistan, a health official said Friday.

'It was definitely person-to-person. That is confirmed,' said Maqbool Jan Abbasi, Ministry of Health joint secretary. He said the World Health Organization confirmed by serological testing from a family in Peshawar, northwest of the capital Islamabad, three brothers had H5N1, the strain of avian influenza that can be deadly in humans.