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Bird flu returns as samples test positive (January 16, 2010 News)

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« on: July 13, 2010, 06:57:43 am »

Bird flu returns as samples test positive
by Kangna Agarwal - January 16, 2010

New Delhi, January 16 -- With poultry samples collected in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal testing positive for H5 strain of the avian influenza, another outbreak is likely to haunt the nation that is already reeling under the pandemic swine flu.

The issue was highlighted when serum samples of two dead birds from the Nagar and Hazrabati villages in Murshidabad district tested positive for H5 strain of the avian influenza in a Bhopal-based High Security Animal Disease Laboratory.

Not even three months have been passed since last October when India had declared itself free from the avian influenza. The latest positive samples raise the potential pandemic threat anew.

Surveillance measures initiated
As bird flu makes a return, several medical teams have been positioned in and around the infected villages to cull all the poultry birds.

Door-to-door surveillance will be carried out by the expert team, to look for people showing any influenza-like symptoms. People found suffering from cough, cold and respiratory illnesses will be tested for H5N1 infection.

The state officials are anticipating finishing the collection of all the poultry birds, in and around the infected areas within three days.

"The health ministry team will increase door-to-door surveillance within the 10-km infected radius to stop human infection with H5N1. Surveillance in the rest of the country has shown no evidence of the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza," a health ministry official said.

The central government has also issued necessary instructions to take appropriate measures and precautions as laid down by the health ministry to prevent the spread of the lethal infection.

Concern over H1N1-H5N1 co-infection
The bird flu has made a comeback at a time when another deadly virus H1N1 has already been circulating in different areas across the country.

Experts are concerned that the two influenza viruses could combine and mutate genetically into a "more notorious public health enemy" in case the H1N1 flu is also circulating in the bird flu infected area.

According to experts, H5N1 is a more pathogenic form of flu with mortality rate as high as 60 percent. However, the death rate of those infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus is not so steep.

"But we don't know what shape the virus will take once both these strains intermingle. It could become a new bug that is both highly contagious and deadly," the official said.

Bird flu and symptoms
One of the highly pathogenic avian influenzas, bird flu is caused by a virus found in the wild birds. The virus can easily and quickly spread among hundreds or thousands of birds, after a wild bird infects a farm-raised bird such as chicken, duck, and turkey.

Sick birds must then be killed to stop the virus from spreading, according to WebMD.

Symptoms of bird flu include fever, cough, a sore throat, and muscle aches. It may also cause an eye infection (conjunctivitis).

Further, bird flu can quickly progress to pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, a serious lung problem that can be deadly.

I'm gonna add to this by doing a 'search' for BIRD FLU 2010 see what comes up...

1)  First Vietnam bird flu death in 2010

Via The New Straits Times: First Vietnam bird flu death in 2010. Excerpt:
A 38-year-old woman has become the first victim of bird flu in Vietnam in 2010, bringing the country’s toll from avian influenza to 58, the health ministry said Friday. 
The woman died Tuesday in the southern province of Tien Giang after two days of unsuccessful hospital treatment, said the ministry in an online statement.
The victim had killed and cooked sick waterfowl, the statement added. Vietnam’s last death from the H5N1 virus was in December.
At present, outbreaks of bird flu among poultry have been reported in five provinces.
Vietnam ranks second after Indonesia for the highest bird flu death toll, according to the World Health Organization.

2) Virulent Bird-Human Flu Hybrid Made in Lab

Engineered hybrids of bird and human flu strains have proven virulent in mice, raising the disturbing possibility that a natural recombination could be deadly to humans.

For years, researchers have worried that H5N1 avian influenza would mix with human flu viruses, evolving into a form that keeps its current lethality but is far more contagious. That hasn’t happened — but the latest findings, published Feb. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show how easily it might.

“Fortunately, the H5N1 viruses still lack the ability to transmit efficiently among humans.” However, this obstacle may be overcome by mixing with flu strains common in people, wrote researchers led by University of Wisconsin virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka. “The next pandemic then will be inevitable.”

Current strains of H5N1 have infected 478 people since 2003, and killed 286 of them. It’s difficult to transmit in humans, requiring close contact with an infected person or animal. In birds, however, H5N1 is far more contagious, and his killed tens of millions of fowl. Cases have been concentrated in Africa and Eurasia, but as the swine flu pandemic demonstrated, any flu contagious to humans will likely go global, fast.

Influenza viruses swap genes easily, with co-infections turning animals into mobile petri dishes. In 2008, hoping to learn more about how H5N1 might evolve, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention combined it with a common human flu strain. The hybrids proved less virulent than the original bird flu strain. Researchers wondered whether more contagious bird flu would necessarily always be less deadly in humans.

The PNAS findings suggest this may not be so. The researchers engineered all 254 possible variants of hybridization between a deadly bird flu strain found in Borneo, and a human flu virus from Tokyo. They identified three strains that, at least in mice, were both contagious and deadly.

A flu virus that kills mice won’t necessarily kill humans, but the results are suggestive. All three killer hybrid strains possessed a protein taken from the human strain. Called PB2, the protein appeared to help the virus survive in the mice’s upper respiratory tract. As of now, bird flu stays in the lower respiratory tract, where it’s less likely to be casually transmitted.

The findings come as the World Health Organization meets to decide whether the swine flu pandemic has abated. Though the pandemic has not proved as lethal as originally feared, it exposed how unprepared the world is for new influenza strains.

In May, Hong Kong University virologist Yi Guan, best known for finding the animal origin of SARS, was asked by Science Insider about the possibility of H5N1 and swine flu mixing.

“If that happens, I will retire immediately and lock myself” in a sealed laboratory, said Guan.

Photo: A person feeds northern pintail ducks and whooper swans in Northern Honshu, Japan; in spring 2008, highly pathogenic H5N1 was found there in both bird species./USGS

See Also:

•Flu Pandemics May Lurk in Frozen Lakes
•Swine Flu: Just the Latest Chapter in a 91-Year Pandemic Era
•Tamiflu in Rivers Could Breed Drug-Resistant Flu Strains
•Swine Flu Ancestor Born on U.S. Factory Farms
•Google Could Have Caught Swine Flu Early
Citation: “Reassortment between avian H5N1 and human H3N2 in?uenza viruses creates hybrid viruses with substantial virulence.” By Chengjun Li, Masato Hatta, Chairul A. Nidom, Yukiko Muramoto, Shinji Watanabe, Gabriele Neumann, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107 No. 8, February 23, 2010.

Brandon Keim’s Twitter stream and reportorial outtakes; Wired Science on Twitter. Brandon is currently working on a book about ecological tipping points.

3) Who is hyping BIRD FLU in Egypt and Indonesia:

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