Russia reports more bird flu cases

Russia has confirmed more bird flu cases, raising fears it could spread over Europe, but a UN official says the best way to stop it was for donors to pay up and fight it where it began, among Asian fowl.

Bird flu has killed more than 60 people to date
Bird flu has killed more than 60 people to date

The latest case in Russia killed 12 hens at a private dacha in Tambov, 400km southeast of Moscow, last week.

The authorities culled 53 ducks and hens and imposed a quarantine. Tests confirmed it was the H5N1 avian flu strain which can infect humans, though not yet pass between them, officials said.

The European Union was poised to ban all imports of captive wild birds after a parrot died of H5N1 in quarantine in Britain.

Asian scare

China meanwhile reported an outbreak of bird flu among poultry in the eastern province of Anhui, the Agriculture Ministry and an international group for animal health said on Tuesday.

A report to the World Organisation for Animal Health, posted on the group’s website, said the outbreak was found among chickens and geese in Anhui. It said 140,000 birds had been vaccinated and that quarantines and other precautions were taken.

“Yes, there is an outbreak of bird flu in Anhui. I cannot give any details now,” said an official at the Agriculture Ministry.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday that testing had confirmed a man who died in September was positive for bird flu, taking the number of deaths from the virus in the country to four.    

Hariadi Wibisono, a senior official at the ministry, said a total of three other Indonesians had also fallen sick from the virus but had survived.    

He said the latest results were from tests obtained on Monday and verified by the World Health Organisation. 


More dead birds were found and taken for tests in Germany,
Croatia, Hungary and Portugal as suspect cases multiplied.
But the numbers involved in Europe are still small and no
humans there have been infected, unlike Asia where 61 people died after close contact with infected birds.

Tamiflu is one of the few drugs that can treat bird flu symptoms

Tamiflu is one of the few drugs
that can treat bird flu symptoms

A World Health Organisation official from Asia said Europe still had good prospects of stopping H5N1 reaching its tame bird population because it had reacted faster and more openly.

“There is an excellent chance for Europe to contain the Asian flu,” said Shigeru Omi.

The UN food agency’s head said the world must focus on Asia, and on stopping the virus passing between birds, as the best way to prevent the nightmare scenario of it mixing with a human strain to cause pandemic deadly flu.

Human contamination

“Too much time has gone by and even now we seem to focus more on addressing a possible pandemic which is spread from human to human,” said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“It’s good to be ready should this happen. But for the time being we have 140 million birds killed or dying or have died because of avian influenza, with $10 billion of costs … and it is still there (in Asia) that we are having contamination to human beings,” he told Reuters in an interview in Canada.

He said the FAO had helped develop a $175 million strategy to control H5N1, which surfaced in South Korea two years ago, and had received pledges of $30 million in aid – but donors had not yet handed over a single cent.

US health officials, meanwhile, said on Monday they feared
counterfeiters would try to cash in on the demand for Tamiflu, one of the few drugs that can treat bird flu, and said they were putting into effect measures to prevent this.

The US Food and Drug Administration said it would work to help researchers and companies develop new flu drugs that might treat H5N1 and to work quickly to approve them.

Carried by migratory birds, H5N1 has now moved west as far as European Russia, Turkey and Romania.

Source : Reuters

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