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. H5N1 Not In US Migratory Birds

Chickens in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia are vaccinated against Avian Flu. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Kate Walker
Oxford, England (UPI) Jun 15, 2006
No birds carrying the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza have yet been found in the United States, although monitoring efforts have been stepped up. Thousands of samples collected from live and subsistence-hunted birds across the country have been sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., for testing, yet none has shown any signs of carrying the infection it is feared could spark off a deadly pandemic.

As part of a plan to take samples from 75,000-100,000 migratory birds from across the United States, thousands of scientists from local, state and federal government have been taking part in a survey designed to establish whether migratory birds may have brought the virus to North America undetected.

The majority of sampling has thus far - and will continue to be - focused on Alaska, which is a migratory junction that could see the virus reaching the lower 48 states.

Meanwhile:

-- There were reports Tuesday of a suspected human case of avian influenza infection in Hong Kong's Shenzhen region.

Few details of the case have emerged, but the 31-year-old man, who had recently visited a wet bird market, was hospitalized after developing an extreme case of pneumonia and a high fever June 3.

He is currently said to be in critical condition.

-- Peski, a small village in eastern Ukraine, has been placed under quarantine following an outbreak in poultry.

"The village has been put in quarantine to deter the spread of the dangerous virus," Igor Krol, head of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry press office, said Tuesday. "There is no danger to people's health."

In addition to the quarantine, 7,000 domestic birds are due to be culled. More than 70 experts from the ministry are working in the area, and the culls are due to be completed by Thursday.

-- The Chinese government has extended its controls and mechanisms of prevention, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday, and has opened a center dedicated to monitoring the emergence of infectious diseases.

"We are still keeping a close eye on bird flu and have strengthened scientific research and nationwide surveillance," Mao Qun'an, Ministry of Health spokesman, said.

In addition to increasing vaccine funding and prevention research, the government has also taken the precautionary measure of monitoring unexplained cases of pneumonia.

As a further precaution, farmers living under migratory flight paths, near lakes and in the region of known sites of infection have been advised to keep their flocks in coops. The country's veterinary management systems and compensation mechanisms are due to be reformed, and further directives regarding the reporting of sick or suspected poultry will be put into place.

In Guangdong Province, the World Health Organization and the Chinese government have launched a center dedicated to studying and monitoring the emergence of a range of infectious diseases, to include avian influenza. The center opened Tuesday at the province's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- The latest avian-flu news to come out of Japan has little to do with the birds themselves.

A report by Mainichi Daily News Tuesday claims that as a result of bird flu and the associated import bans, Japan is likely to face a foie gras shortage in the coming weeks.

Following an outbreak of avian influenza in Hungarian birds, the Japanese government banned the import of poultry and poultry products from Hungary.

Hungary is the second-largest importer of foie gras to Japan.

France, the largest importer of foie gras to Japan, has also suffered avian-flu outbreaks that led to a complete ban on imports of its poultry and poultry products.

But Japanese gourmands may not need to wait long for their next fix, as the ban on French imports is due to expire on Saturday.

Source: United Press International

Related Links
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US Approves Wild Bird Avian Flu Surveillance Network
New York NY (SPX) Jun 12, 2006
In an effort to improve the tracking of avian influenza, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded $5 million in support for a new initiative that will monitor wild bird populations for the disease around the globe, according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which will spearhead the project involving more than a dozen private and public partners.

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