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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 09:14   #1
Al Tee
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Bird Flu heading towards UK

Whats the crack with this bird flu?
I hear on the news this morning that it's spreading our way, (UK), via Russia, transported by migrating birds.
Apparently if you come in close contact with a bird thats got it you can get it; they're also worried about it infecting pigs & other livestock!
They said on the news that they didn't want to alarm anyone but it could kill thousands!
Anyone out there clued up on this subject?
Al.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 09:47   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Tee
Whats the crack with this bird flu?
I hear on the news this morning that it's spreading our way, (UK), via Russia, transported by migrating birds.
Apparently if you come in close contact with a bird thats got it you can get it; they're also worried about it infecting pigs & other livestock!
They said on the news that they didn't want to alarm anyone but it could kill thousands!
Anyone out there clued up on this subject?
Al.
Not clued up, but as I understand it two key issues in relation to migrating wild birds are:

(1) can healthy birds carry the virus (because if they catch it and die, they won't be able to spread it by migrating)

(2) in cases where wild birds have been found dead with virus (such as Bar-headed Geese and others) did they catch it from poultry (rather than vice versa).

As for the virus itself, it is only a threat of the sort you desribe if (in addition to it being transferred to and carried by healthy wild birds, which I believe remains unproven) it mutates into something which can readly be transmitted from human to human. So far, if human to human transmission has happened at all, it has been in pretty exceptional circumstances.

By the way, if anyone has a link to the text of Ben Bradshaw's (Env' Minister) recent statement on this issue, I would be interested to see it. According to press reports one comfort factor cited in it is that the birds potentially carrying the virus migrate east to west, whereas "ours" migrate north to south..
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 09:58   #3
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The virus, H5N1, has killed over 50 people so far in Asia.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 10:16   #4
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From what I can gather from the WHO the disease is spread mainly by migrating wild ducks which then transfer it to humans via domestic poultry and, more recently, pigs and cats. Apparently you can't get infected by eating cooked birds and eggs but from contact with droppings. Infection between humans is quite rare and would involve close personal contact. One major problem is that wild birds do not exhibit any symptoms, they merely carry the virus.

The worst case scenario, according to WHO, is when a person gets infected by bird flu and human flu at the same time. If this happens it could be possible for the viruses to swap genes and mutate into a new virus which is far more virulent.

Vietnam, one of the worst-affected countries, announced in Februaury this year that they had successfully developed a vaccine, but as yet it is not easily available.

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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 10:47   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gus Horsley
From what I can gather from the WHO the disease is spread mainly by migrating wild ducks which then transfer it to humans via domestic poultry and, more recently, pigs and cats. Apparently you can't get infected by eating cooked birds and eggs but from contact with droppings. Infection between humans is quite rare and would involve close personal contact. One major problem is that wild birds do not exhibit any symptoms, they merely carry the virus.

The worst case scenario, according to WHO, is when a person gets infected by bird flu and human flu at the same time. If this happens it could be possible for the viruses to swap genes and mutate into a new virus which is far more virulent.

Vietnam, one of the worst-affected countries, announced in Februaury this year that they had successfully developed a vaccine, but as yet it is not easily available.

Gus
Some of the WHO comments are about bird flu in general (mild and not so mild forms) rather than H5N1 in particular - hence the theory (hope) that because H5N1 is so pathogenic in birds, it is less likely than some of the milder forms to persist in healthy birds and be carried around by them on their travels.

I should add that I'm not trying to start one of those birdforum arguments- just sharing my own efforts to understand a very troubling issue.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 11:31   #6
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I agree, it was only a generalisation on behalf of WHO, rather than HN51. Far be it from me to indulge in any contentious threads!

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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 14:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white-back
Not clued up, but as I understand it two key issues in relation to migrating wild birds are:

(1) can healthy birds carry the virus (because if they catch it and die, they won't be able to spread it by migrating)

(2) in cases where wild birds have been found dead with virus (such as Bar-headed Geese and others) did they catch it from poultry (rather than vice versa).

As for the virus itself, it is only a threat of the sort you desribe if (in addition to it being transferred to and carried by healthy wild birds, which I believe remains unproven) it mutates into something which can readly be transmitted from human to human. So far, if human to human transmission has happened at all, it has been in pretty exceptional circumstances.

By the way, if anyone has a link to the text of Ben Bradshaw's (Env' Minister) recent statement on this issue, I would be interested to see it. According to press reports one comfort factor cited in it is that the birds potentially carrying the virus migrate east to west, whereas "ours" migrate north to south..
I'd take no comfort from that at all - we get a hell of a lot of wintering wildfowl from the east, including Pochard from Russia. And then there's all the winter thrushes etc and waders (eg lapwing) which come in from the east. It will almost certainly arrive here this autumn - just look at how quickly it's spread from SE Asia to the Urals this summer. So, it's certainly coming in with wild birds, which can survive long enough to transport and transmit it.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 14:28   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offord
I'd take no comfort from that at all - we get a hell of a lot of wintering wildfowl from the east, including Pochard from Russia. And then there's all the winter thrushes etc and waders (eg lapwing) which come in from the east. It will almost certainly arrive here this autumn - just look at how quickly it's spread from SE Asia to the Urals this summer. So, it's certainly coming in with wild birds, which can survive long enough to transport and transmit it.
Not to mention the hordes of eastern Starlings that'll be streaming west shortly. Other countries in western europe are already insisting that all free range poultry be confined indoors, but DEFRA apparently doesn't see the need. Not sure it's entirely for them to say though, given the public health implications.

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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 14:36   #9
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Funnily enough I just finished reading yesterday's Times two page spread on this. At first, made very scary reading, but I wasn't sure by the time I went through all the articles. They can be found at www.timesonline.co.uk and searching for bird flu. There were four or five separate articles yesterday in there about it.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 14:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CornishExile
Not to mention the hordes of eastern Starlings that'll be streaming west shortly. Other countries in western europe are already insisting that all free range poultry be confined indoors, but DEFRA apparently doesn't see the need. Not sure it's entirely for them to say though, given the public health implications.

ce
A couple of points:

1. I think waterfowl are seen as principal source of concern as conditions they inhabit most conducive to transmission from bird to bird (excreted virus can survive for a while in shallowish water). Of course not to say that only waterfowl are of concern, but that does seem to be the focus.

2. There is still plenty of argument about whether the spread to the Urals has been via wild birds or poultry movements. No doubt patterns of infection will become clearer either way as autumn progresses.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 15:05   #11
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I know very little about bird flu, but I do know that migration is not a simple case of north to south or east to west etc but can vary depending on many factors. I agree with Offord (I've done that several times recently) in that there are many birds, thousands of ducks, geese and swans, probably running into millions if you include passerines, which come in from the east for the winter into the more 'balmy' climes of sw europe including the UK and the warming effect of the Gulf Stream so I think that it is not a case of if it arrives but when and it may easily be this autumn/winter. What effect it will have is another story but I don't know enough about it to make an opinion on that.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 15:37   #12
Al Tee
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Thanks everyone for shedding more light on this subject.
Also, I've just found more info the BBC news web site by putting in "bird flu" in the search box and opening the bird flu Q&A page.
Rather alarming reading!
Thanks,
Al.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 16:36   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by white-back
Some of the WHO comments are about bird flu in general (mild and not so mild forms) rather than HN51 .
I don't mean to be pedantic, but it's H5N1, not HN51.

Regards
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 18:04   #14
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I wonder us ringers... scary!
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 18:10   #15
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Whether humans are at risk or not this will be used by some as an excuse to blast anything that flies out of the sky. The media publishing any of these scare stories without scientific proof (which won't be retracted if found false, unless hidden deep in the paper/web) will only serve to fan the flames.

Is it possible to monitor the spread or is it too late by then?

What precautions can be taken?
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 18:12   #16
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There was a message on EuroBirdNet mailing list yesterday, unfortunately I deleted it.

Author states that bird flu spreads outside migration period of wild birds and in direction different than Asian bird migration routes. He also urges scientists who had negative results with flu in wild birds to publish data.

Bottom line - bird flu is spread by human transport, not wild birds.

Birds from species which were sick in C. Asia (Bar-headed goose etc.) will not start migrate until September and then will fly south to India, where bird flu did not appear yet.
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Old Wednesday 24th August 2005, 18:36   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PWG

Is it possible to monitor the spread ?
....of avian flu in general, yes-particularly in ducks:-
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N22495097.htm

5000 wild birds in Alaska are to be checked before they migrate:-
http://www.detnews.com/2005/health/0...A06-289166.htm

Some of today's news from Central Europe:-
http://www.thepoultrysite.com/Latest...s&Display=8261

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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 06:13   #18
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Somebody from the London Wetlands Centre spoke about this on Radio 5 yesterday. Apparently most of our immigrants from the east come from Northern Russia and Siberia - areas where avian flu is not widespread.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 06:16   #19
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be unafraid, be very unafraid

from here in Hong Kong, inc based on 2003/04 spread in east Asia, se Asia, looks like poultry trade is h5n1 mover; wild birds victims not vectors
Too bad that it seems even birders in UK not aware of this; tho lately, the message swamped by pundits of doom [esp one Henry Niman, who doesn't seem most reliable source]

I did article on this: Dead Ducks Don't Fly

seems a similar pattern emerging here - outbreaks not going as predicted with bird migrations (esp as big move in around July, when many bar-headed geese flightless!)
much info here:
H5N1 and migratory birds forum
- more posts welcome

This just in (via Phil Round in Thailand):

20050824.2492
Published Date 24-AUG-2005
Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza - Asia (10): migratory birds
AVIAN INFLUENZA - ASIA (10): MIGRATORY BIRDS
***********************************************
A ProMED-mail post
<http://www.promedmail.org>
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
<http://www.isid.org>

Sponsored in part by Elsevier, publisher of
International Journal of Microbial Agents
<http://intl.elsevierhealth.com/journals/ijaa>

Date: Wed 24 Aug 2005
From: Hon Ip <hip@usgs.gov>


Dead birds don't migrate (re. ProMED 20050822.2475) [cf my "dead ducks don't fly"!
-----------------------------------------------
I am in complete agreement with the anonymous ProMED contributor for the
request for more information on the role of H5N1 and wild birds in the
evolving situation in Asia [see commentary to posting 20050822.2475].
Reports of the role of wild birds as the cause of new bird flu outbreaks
occur almost daily, but at the present time, there is little evidence
available to support such statements. So making that kind of material
available to ProMED readers would be greatly appreciated.

One of the few pieces of published data that addresses the question of H5N1
isolation from wild birds is from the work of colleagues in Hong Kong. H5N1
was isolated from clinically healthy birds in Penfold Park during the 2002
pathogenic [influenza] outbreak in Hong Kong SAR. In addition to the
isolation of H5N1 from sick and dying birds at the park, the virus was
isolated from apparently healthy birds, include 2 Canada geese (_Branta
canadensis_), one bar-headed goose (_Anser indicus_) and 2 other geese of
unspecified Anser species (Ellis et al., 2004. Avian Pathol 33:492-505).
[Initially, the SAR authorities reported to the OIE that the affected
population in the Penford Park included resident waterfowl (ducks, geese,
and swans) and wild little egrets (_Egretta garzetta_); no reference was
made to tests in clinically unaffected birds. See 20030126.0236. - Mod.AS]

It should be noted that, although the Canada goose and the bar-headed goose
are migratory species, these birds were in a captive situation, and so the
question of whether they are capable of migration remains unanswered.

A further point illustrating the lack of data on the role of wild birds in
HPAI H5NA transmission is the outbreak in Novosibirsk, Russia. The source
of the outbreak has been attributed to wild birds. [See 20050725.2150 and
<http://www.oie.int/eng/info/hebdo/aIS_60.htm#Sec4>.] But, in some of the
limited information available on the nature of the Novosibirsk HPAI H5N1
virus, as provided by Russia to OIE [see 20050813.2369 and
<http://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/Russia%20HPAI.pdf>], the 4
isolates of H5N1 from domestic poultry in 2 regions of Novosibirsk are
similar, but one sample, which is from a wild duck, clearly has a different
PCR electrophoreogram pattern (Figure 1 in the OIE report). While other
data not included in the report may show that the virus in wild birds is
related to those isolated from affected poultry in the Novosibirsk region,
the available data suggest that such is not the case, and certainly no data
that shows the wild birds were the vector of transmission has been made
available at the present time.

Movement of birds, including annual migration, is only one of several
possible means of dissemination of the HPAI H5N1 virus. In many of the
areas of recent outbreaks, there is a thriving trade of live birds and
poultry products. Some of the areas such as Qinghai in China and Hovsgol,
Mongolia are tourist destinations. There is no evidence of sustained human
to human transmission at the present time. But because the influenza virus
can survive in poultry droppings for up to 2 weeks (Lu et al., 2003. Avian
Dis 47:1015-1021), movement of people and contaminated farm equipment can
rapidly spread the virus from one locale to another. Although much has been
made of the recent pattern of spread as indicative of avian migration, many
ornithologists have indicated that the spread of H5N1 does not fit with
known behavior of the bird species in that area of the world (Butler, D.
2005. Nature: <http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050801/full/050801-1.html>):
It should be noted that the same pattern of spread can just as easily be
seen as from the major routes of human transportation.

--
Hon S. Ip
United States Geological Survey
National Wildlife Health Center
Diagnostic Virology Laboratory
Madison, WI
USA

[Those are valuable observations. Any available data on the detection of
pathogenic H5N1 virus strains in subclinically infected uncaged wild birds
will be appreciated.

Subscribers are referred to a paper by FAO authors, published on 6 Aug 2005
in the Veterinary Record: Sims LD, Domenech J, Benigno C, Kahn S, Kamata A,
Lubroth J, Martin V & Roeder P. (2005) Origin and evolution of highly
pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in Asia. Vet Rec. 157(6):159-64:

"Abstract: Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza caused by H5N1
viruses were reported almost simultaneously in 8 neighboring Asian
countries between December 2003 and January 2004, with a 9th reporting in
August 2004, suggesting that the viruses had spread recently and rapidly.
However, they had been detected widely in the region in domestic waterfowl
and terrestrial poultry for several years before this, and the absence of
widespread disease in the region before 2003, apart from localized
outbreaks in the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region (SAR), is perplexing.
Possible explanations include limited virus excretion by domestic waterfowl
infected with H5N1, the confusion of avian influenza with other serious
endemic diseases, the unsanctioned use of vaccines, and the under-reporting
of disease as a result of limited surveillance. There is some evidence that
the excretion of the viruses by domestic ducks had increased by early 2004,
and there is circumstantial evidence that they can be transmitted by wild
birds. The migratory birds from which viruses have been isolated were
usually sick or dead, suggesting that they would have had limited potential
for carrying the viruses over long distances unless subclinical infections
were prevalent. However, there is strong circumstantial evidence that wild
birds can become infected from domestic poultry and potentially can
exchange viruses when they share the same environment. Nevertheless, there
is little reason to believe that wild birds have played a more significant
role in spreading disease than trade through live bird markets and movement
of domestic waterfowl. Asian H5N1 viruses were 1st detected in domestic
geese in southern China in 1996. By 2000, their host range had extended to
domestic ducks, which played a key role in the genesis of the 2003/04
outbreaks. The epidemic was not due to the introduction and spread of a
single virus but was caused by multiple viruses which were genotypically
linked to the Goose/GD/96 lineage via the hemagglutinin gene. The H5N1
viruses isolated from China, including the Hong Kong SAR, between 1999 and
2004 had a range of genotypes and considerable variability within
genotypes. The rising incidence and widespread reporting of disease in
2003/04 can probably be attributed to the increasing spread of the viruses
from existing reservoirs of infection in domestic waterfowl and live bird
markets leading to greater environmental contamination. When countries in
the region started to report disease in December 2003, others were alerted
to the risk and disease surveillance and reporting improved. The H5N1
viruses have reportedly been eliminated from 3 of the 9 countries that
reported disease in 2003/04, but they could be extremely difficult to
eradicate from the remaining countries, owing to the existence of
populations and, possibly, production and marketing sectors, in which
apparently normal birds harbor the viruses."

During early stages of the outbreak, it was argued that the pattern of
spread strongly suggested that the virus was carried by people smuggling
poultry, a practice reportedly widespread in southeast Asia, rather than by
migratory birds. Though there were reports of mass die-offs of rare birds
in zoos in Thailand, regular monitoring of migratory birds in Thailand did
not reveal the virus. In regions with big outbreaks in poultry, local wild
birds were affected; the question remained as to whether their infection
did not originate from the domestic birds (see item 3 in 20040128.0335).
Useful information on waterbird populations worldwide can be found on the
web-site of Wetland International; the organization has recently published
the drafted 4th edition (2005) of "Waterbird population estimates," which
can be accessed at
<http://www.wetlands.org/pubs&/WPE4draft150705.xls>. - Mod.AS]

[see also:
Avian influenza, migrating birds - Asia 20050812.2354
Avian influenza, migratory birds - Mongolia (02) 20050812.2362
Avian influenza, migratory birds - Mongolia: OIE 20050808.2317
Avian influenza, migratory birds - Mongolia: OIE (03) 20050813.2367
Avian influenza - Asia (06): Mongolia, migratory b... 20050819.2443
Avian influenza - Asia (09): Russia (Siberia), OIE 20050822.2475
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China 20050527.1462
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (02): warn... 20050601.1529
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (03) 20050604.1558
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (04): (Xin... 20050622.1743
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (05) 20050628.1828
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (06) 20050629.1833
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (07) 20050702.1872
Avian influenza, wild waterfowl - China (08) 20050707.1922
Avian influenza - Europe (03): migratory birds, no... 20050821.2463
Avian influenza - Russia (Siberia)(13): H5N1, OIE 20050813.2369
Avian influenza - Russia (Siberia)(04): OIE 20050725.2150
2004
----
Avian influenza - Eastern Asia (13) 20040128.0335
2003
----
Avian influenza - China (Hong Kong): OIE (02) 20030126.0236]
....................arn/msp/mpp


*################################################# #########*
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are posted, but the accuracy and completeness of the
information, and of any statements or opinions based
thereon, are not guaranteed. The reader assumes all risks in
using information posted or archived by ProMED-mail. ISID
and its associated service providers shall not be held
responsible for errors or omissions or held liable for any
damages incurred as a result of use or reliance upon posted
or archived material.
************************************************** **********
Visit ProMED-mail's web site at <http://www.promedmail.org>.
Send all items for posting to: promed@promedmail.org
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 06:20   #20
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hk h5n1 Poultry Farm Franken-flu testing

oh, and again in HK - over 7000 wild birds tested last year; none positive for h5n1 (had v few dead ones - but pattern as typical for wild birds with h5n1: dead; seems once this Poultry Farm Frankenflu does escape farms and infect wild birds, it doesn' t last long in a given outbreak [even Qinghai, perhaps, where over 6000 birds reportedly died]).
Japan, Thailand, Russia also among places testing wild birds for flu.

Tons of info available; above links could help.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 14:54   #21
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There's now a piece in the Guardian headlined "British birdwatchers to warn of avian flu threat" - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/birdflu/st...556314,00.html, though it doesn't really say how we're supposed to do this.

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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 15:14   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuartReeves
There's now a piece in the Guardian headlined "British birdwatchers to warn of avian flu threat" - see http://www.guardian.co.uk/birdflu/st...556314,00.html, though it doesn't really say how we're supposed to do this.

Stuart
I guess what the vets have in mind is prompt reporting of sick or dying waterfowl so that tests can be done.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 15:19   #23
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It's now top headline on the bbc news uk web page....
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 17:55   #24
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Silently, but menacingly, this virus, if it doe's mutate, and passes to human's will become a real killer. We are told fewer than 60 people have died so far!! in Vietnam-Cambodia. But are we ever told the whole truth.
It is well known a new pandemic is overdue, and just waiting to happen, is this it?
The spanish flu pandemic of 1918, remains one of the biggest, with 50 million dead worldwide, more than died in world war 1.
The age group in greatest danger from this virus is the teenagers, and young adults, rather than the old and infirm, who are worst hit by normal flu infections.
The theory is that the virus provokes a robust immune system to overreact , so it ends up killing the victim, rather than protecting it.
As a person who works the front line with these infectious diseases, it could be a time to be worried.
Doe's our suave goverment worry? well NO, funny i just thought they were elected to help to protect people's health.
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Old Thursday 25th August 2005, 18:56   #25
helenol

 
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It's been headline news for the past few weeks on various news sites, including Reuters. It's only now people are even bothering to read about this stuff, and the "meeja" have decided to report it because of the decision by the Dutch to keep their free range poultry etc inside instead of outside, to lessen the chance of contracting the virus, which can be picked up from bodily fluids of wild fowl.

A vaccine is currently being worked on, but for the moment the anti viral drug tamiflu is being stockpiled, and over 3 million packs have been donated to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Another anti viral drug called Relenza is also being considered by some countries, but there are concerns that some people may not be able to administer it correctly as it is a drug that needs to be inhaled.
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