Canada Says 33 Cases
Of Bird Flu Found
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
First of all, the Canadian information is a bit misleading. It descriibes the bird flu as the same circulating in Asia and Europe but then goes on to say it has not identified H5N1.
We are told that tests will be completed next week.
There is a non H5N1 circulating in Central and South America and it is possible that the ducks have H5N2, the low pathogenic strain.
Bush's plan calls for strengthening the vaccine industry. The plan should be calling for monitoring of migratory birds and testing of respiratory outbreak patients.
"Concern about bird flu's spread to humans has increased since 5 Oct 2005, when U.S. scientists reported finding similarities between the H5N1 strain in Asia and the Spanish flu "
This is of concern.
Patricia Doyle
Canada Finds Avian Flu in Wild Birds - Risk Low
(Bloomberg) -- Canada found 33 cases of avian influenza, a lethal strain of which has spread through Asia and Europe, in a survey of wild ducks conducted this summer [2005], a government health agency said.
The infected ducks were healthy, suggesting they don't carry the virulent H5N1 strain, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said in a statement today [31 Oct 2005]. Tests to identify the strain will be completed next week. Canada has had no cases of H5N1, Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell told reporters in Ottawa today.
Concern about bird flu's spread to humans has increased since 5 Oct 2005, when U.S. scientists reported finding similarities between the H5N1 strain in Asia and the Spanish flu that killed as many as 50 million people in 1918 and 1919. There have been 121 confirmed cases of bird flu in humans, and 62 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.
Strains of H5 influenza that don't kill ducks can still be dangerous to other species such as chickens, said Terrence Tumpey, a senior microbiologist in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's influenza branch. Testing will be needed to rule out the H5N1 strain in the infected ducks, he said.
"You can get H5N1 out of healthy ducks,'' he said in a telephone interview today [31 Oct 2005]. "You can get all kinds of subtypes out of migratory ducks.''
28 infected ducks were found in Quebec and 5 in Manitoba, according to the CFIA. The agency said the risk to humans is low and that it made the results public to be transparent.
The study is the 1st national survey of influenza in migratory birds in Canada and will serve as a benchmark in future years, the agency said.
Canadian pharmacists today [31 Oct 2005] halted cross-border sales of the Tamiflu flu drug to relieve public concern that there may be a shortage in the country if there's an outbreak, the Canadian International Pharmacy Association said in a statement today. There's no evidence of a shortage of the drug, made by Roche Holding AG, the group said.
Tamiflu, approved for the treatment and prevention of flu, has been shown to fight the H5N1 avian and human virus strains in test-tube and animal tests. The World Health Organization recommends that governments stockpile antiviral drugs should an outbreak occur.
Bush To Unveil Nation's Bird Flu Plan
Program Expected To Call For Strengthening Vaccine Industry
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. plan for helping handle a pandemic of deadly bird flu, to be outlined by President Bush later on Tuesday, is expected to center on strengthening the vaccine industry.
The H5N1 avian flu sweeping flocks of poultry in Asia and parts of Europe has infected 122 people and killed 62, but experts say it could make a leap into humans and cause a deadly pandemic.
No one can predict if or when, but the World Health Organization has warned that no country is prepared to battle a pandemic of H5N1 influenza or any other disease that may cause widespread disruption.
The United States is especially poorly prepared, U.S. officials agree, although experts have been warning for years of the potential for a pandemic.
Hospitals are often filled to overflowing already and have no extra "surge capacity to handle the hundreds of thousands of people who might fall ill in a pandemic. Pharmacies have just enough stock to handle immediate demand for drugs, and, perhaps worst of all, hardly anyone makes vaccines any more.
In 2003 the Institute of Medicine, an independent body that advises the federal government, said the U.S. health care system does not place enough value on immunization.
In the 1970s more than 25 companies produced vaccine for the U.S. market, compared to five now, only two of which are based in the United States.
Recent vaccine shortages have disrupted annual influenza immunization efforts and childhood vaccines. The technology for making flu vaccines is 40 years old, dependent on eggs, and takes months to produce a single dose.
Hostile Climate
Vaccine makers say the American market is perilous, with razor-thin profits, complicated regulations and an increasingly hostile public prone to lawsuits over adverse events from vaccination.
The Bush administration has made some efforts to remedy the problem, but an attempt in 2002 to slip provisions protecting vaccine makers into the Homeland Security Act were immediately decried by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Last month Bush met with the chief executive officers of some of the corporate vaccine makers. They included Merck & Co. Inc., Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, Chiron Corp. and sanofi pasteur, the vaccine unit of Sanofi-Aventis.
Bush administration officials said they wanted to encourage vaccine makers to build plants in the United States and modernize influenza vaccine production.
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who will fill in details of the pandemic flu plan on Wednesday, has said it will include four major points. These are: better disease surveillance, stockpiling drugs and vaccines, creating a network of federal, state and local preparedness and public education.
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board.
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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