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EPIDEMICS
Bird-flu deaths rise in China, shutting poultry markets
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 16, 2017


Test can detect HIV within a week of infection: researchers
Madrid (AFP) Feb 16, 2017 - Spain's top research institution said Thursday it has patented an HIV test that can detect the AIDS-causing virus within a week of infection, the fastest yet.

A "biosensor" developed by scientists of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) detects the p24 antigen, a protein attached to the HIV virus, in human blood, the council said in a statement.

The technology "detects the protein at concentrations 100,000 times lower than in current techniques," it said, and "during the first week after infection."

"In addition, the total test time is four hours, 45 minutes, meaning clinical results could be obtained on the same day."

The outcome of tests with the sensor was published this week in the science journal PLOS ONE.

The sensor is a rice grain-sized chip combining micro-mechanical silicon structures and gold nanoparticles.

Its ingredients are manufactured using existing tecnology, "thus making large-scale, low-cost production possible," CSIC researcher Javier Tamayo said a statement.

"This, combined with its simplicity, could make it a great choice for use in developing countries" hardest-hit by the scourge of HIV.

Current antigen tests can detect HIV only about three weeks after infection. Tests that pick up HIV antibodies in the blood require an even longer wait.

RNA tests can detect the virus directly after about 10 days, but are more expensive.

Early detection is crucial to stop an infected person unknowingly passing the virus on to other people through sex.

According to the World Health Organization, there were about 36.7 million people living with HIV in 2015, mainly in low- and middle-income countries.

An estimated 2.1 million people were infected in 2015.

Some 35 million people have died from HIV-related causes, including 1.1 million in 2015.

China is experiencing its deadliest outbreak of the H7N9 bird-flu strain since it first appeared in humans in 2013, killing 79 people in January alone and spurring several cities to suspend live poultry trade.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said on Wednesday that by the end of January a total of 100 people had died in the current bird flu season, which commonly emerges in winter and continues into the spring.

The 79 deaths in China last month compared to just five in January 2016, according to the commission.

The surge in fatalities has raised concerns that a severe outbreak looms, though health officials have said the worst has likely passed.

H7N9, a subtype of influenza that affects both birds and humans, was first discovered in China in 2013.

Most infected patients become severely ill, and nearly one in three cases are fatal.

The government is urging people to avoid live poultry markets, where poor sanitation conditions can raise the risk of contamination.

Ni Daxin, a top official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was quoted Thursday by the state-run China Daily as saying the common Chinese preference for live or freshly-slaughtered chickens was contributing to the disease's spread.

"If the public buys only frozen poultry, control of the epidemic will be much easier," Ni said.

The live poultry trade has been temporarily halted in the cities of Guangzhou in the south, Changsha in central China, and the entire eastern province of Zhejiang, among other areas.

Zhejiang alone reported 35 infections in January, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted officials saying.

The majority of infections occur through contact with diseased poultry and bird waste at markets and in rural areas.

But at least two possible cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported since September.

On the popular Chinese social-networking platform Weibo, many users expressed concern over the virus and paranoia over common-cold symptoms, while others said they were swearing off chicken.

yan/dma/klm/iw

Weibo


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Previous Report
EPIDEMICS
At least five infected with HIV at Chinese traditional medicine hospital
Beijing (AFP) Feb 9, 2017
At least five patients at a traditional Chinese medicine hospital in China were accidentally infected with HIV, officials said Thursday, as authorities moved to censor online discussion over the incident. A technician at the Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine re-used a tube employed in an earlier medical exam for an HIV-positive patient, the province's health and fa ... read more


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