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. US Prepares For Bird Flu

Worker of the Ukrainian emergency rescue service collects poultry for extermination in the Nekrasovka village in Crimea, 800 km south of Kiev, 05 December 2005. Ukraine began a mass slaughter of birds in Crimea on 04 December 2005 after an H5-type bird flu virus was detected in the peninsula, as officials awaited tests on whether the strain was of the lethal H5N1 variety that has killed nearly 70 people in Asia. Yushchenko was due to visit the villages in the peninsula's northeast where the virus was recorded after scores of domestic poultry died late last week. AFP photo by Genia Savilov.
By Kate Walker
UPI Correspondent
Washington (UPI) Dec 05, 2005
Six villages in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula were quarantined over the weekend following reports of avian-influenza outbreaks.

Tests confirmed the presence of an H5 strain of avian influenza in 1,900 birds following an outbreak in Romania, near the shared border with Ukraine.

Following reporting of the outbreak Ukrainian officials responded by culling poultry, controlling the movement of people in the area, disinfecting farms and testing other birds for signs of infection. Russia responded to the news by banning imports of all forms of Ukrainian poultry, including live birds, feed, hatching eggs, meat, poultry feed, feathers and equipment.

Although the weekend marked the first reported outbreaks of avian influenza in Ukraine, villagers complained that they had been reporting deaths among their poultry since September, with no action taken by officials.

In response to this news, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko fired the country's top veterinary officer.

"In the early stages, the local and central veterinary services proved unable to cope. As a result of this trip I am ordering the dismissal of the chief veterinarian. What happened in these villages is clearly a professional error of the veterinary service and it must accept responsibility," Yushchenko told reporters.

Meanwhile:

-- New avian-influenza outbreaks have been reported in Romania, and the villages have been quarantined.

Villagers have been instructed to keep all poultry away from wild birds, and domestic birds will be culled.

-- Two men in eastern Romania have been hospitalized under suspicion of avian influenza.

The men, who are quarantined and under constant observation, have not yet had the presence of an H5 strain of avian influenza confirmed, but both had come into contact with infected poultry before suffering flu-like symptoms.

If the cases are confirmed, they will be the first human instances of avian-influenza infection in Europe.

-- An Indonesian baby has tested positive for avian influenza. It is believed he contracted the disease from an infected pigeon.

-- Vietnamese officials have culled 3,800 birds following reports of an outbreak in a province bordering China.

The culls followed the deaths of 900 birds from a disease later confirmed by laboratories to be an H5 strain of avian influenza.

-- A Vietnamese doctor with experience treating human victims of avian influenza has expressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of Tamiflu in treating the disease.

"We place no importance on using this drug on our patients," London's Sunday Times reported Dr. Nguyen Tuong Van as saying. "Tamiflu is really only meant for treating ordinary type A flu. It was not designed to combat H5N1."

-- Following United Press International's report Friday that Thai doctors were expressing concern H5N1 may have achieved human-to-human transmission, some Indonesian doctors came out in agreement.

"There are just too many people who have it," a health official in Jakarta said. "In many cases, it is difficult to establish any contact with birds."

Another was quoted by WorldNetDaily as saying avian flu has "spread all over the city."

-- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt warned of a worst-case avian-influenza scenario for the country in which an 85-day initial cycle of infection led to 120 million infected, with varying degrees of illness.

"At the end of week six you will see pandemic cases (in the United States) that will be 722,000," Leavitt said. Normal life will be interrupted, and schools and businesses will be closed.

"Closing schools has a profound consequence," Leavitt said. "Movement restrictions of any sort, whether on the borders of our country or borders of our towns creates very real economic dilemmas ... agonizingly difficult choices about the distribution of food and resources."

Source: United Press International

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Indonesia's Health System Fumbles As Bird Flu Spectre Looms
by Ahmad Pathoni
Jakarta (AFP) Dec 05, 2005
Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, is scurrying to ready for a potential bird flu pandemic but health and animal husbandry officials warn they so far lack crucial resources.
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