Bad News - H5N1 Bird Flu
Spreads To New Species
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff - This is really bad news. I wondered if H5N1 and SARS would combine if H5 hits a SARS infected Civet cat.
Patricia Doyle
H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads To New Species
Associated Press via Globe and Mail, Toronto
Bird flu has killed 3 rare civets born in captivity at a national park in Viet Nam, marking the 1st time the virus has been reported in the species, officials said on Friday [26 Aug 2005].
The Owston civets died in late June 2005 at the Cuc Phuong National Park, about 120 km south of Hanoi. Samples sent to a lab in Hong Kong came back positive for the H5N1 virus, said Scott Roberton, technical adviser for the civet conservation program at the park.
He said other animals at the park have been tested -- including chickens, rats and other birds -- but none have tested positive for the virus.
"It's another good example of how dangerous this thing is," Mr. Roberton said. "No animals are ill, no people are ill. We're still trying to figure out where the source was. The civets were not fed any type of poultry, and 20 other civets of the same species in adjacent cages did not become sick", he said. "The World Health Organization and Viet Nam health officials are expected to test staff and animal keepers to determine [whether] anyone caring for the civets has been infected with bird flu," he said.
Anton Rychener, head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health in Hanoi, confirmed the results.
Cat-like civets are captured in the wild and served as a delicacy at restaurants in Viet Nam and China.
Scientists suspect that SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide in 2003, was passed to humans from civet cats and other mongoose-like animals sold in live food markets in southern China.
Peter Horby, an epidemiologist for the WHO in Hanoi, said the development would not make people more susceptible to bird flu, because humans have less contact with civets than [with] poultry. "The interesting thing is that it's a new species," he said. "It continues to surprise."
Bird flu had previously been found in other mammals, such as cats and tigers.
The virus has killed 61 people region-wide, with the bulk of those deaths in Viet Nam. Health experts have repeatedly warned that the world is due for an influenza pandemic that could kill millions and cripple economies. They fear the bird flu virus will mutate and become easily transmitted from person to person. So far, most human cases have been traced back to contact with poultry.
Owston civets are globally threatened and found in southern China, Viet Nam and Laos.
Owston's Banded Palm Civet (_ Chrotogale owstoni_) belongs to the family _Viverridae_, subfamily _Hemigalinae_, genus _Chrotogale_. The genotyping of the causal agent recorded in the civets, and its comparison to previous isolates of H5N1 strains from mammals, are expected with interest.
Studies of H5N1 infection of pigs (mammals of particular significance in relation to the epidemiology of avian influenza in respect to human health) using viruses isolated in Viet Nam and Thailand have recently been published (Young Ki Choi, Tien Dzung Nguyen et al. Journal of Virology, August 2005, p. 10821-10825 Vol. 79, No. 16). We are grateful to Christian Griot for bringing this paper to our attention. - Mod.AS
This is an interesting report; but perhaps not so surprising. Other members of the order Carnivora are know to be susceptible to avian influenza viruses.
Family Felidae - both domestic cats (H7N7) and zoo tigers and leopards (H5N1) have suffered infection and the H5N1 virus was transmitted among zoo tigers.
Family Mustelidae - the ferrets, badgers, skunks, etc. Ferrets are highly susceptible to influenza viruses. The first human influenza virus was isolated by Wilson Smith and Stuart-Harris by inoculation of patient material into ferrets in the 1930's. Ferrets are still the animals of choice for production of diagnostic antisera (e.g. see the WHO statement "Evolution of H5N1 Avian Influenza Viruses in Asia" by The World Health Organization Global Influenza Program Surveillance Network at. - Mod.CP
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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