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. H5N1 Signature May Help Detection

The H5N1 virus.
by Kate Walker
Oxford, England (UPI) Jun 08, 2006
Biotechnology research and development company BioWarn LLC this week announced that its SmartSense biological substance detection system can instantly detect the presence of the H5N1 subtype of avian influenza.

"Using SmartSense, an outbreak of human avian flu can be detected and isolated in its early stages so that prevention, vaccines, and treatment can immediately be administered," said Dr. James P. Wade Jr., chairman of the board and chief executive officer of BioWarn.

BioWarn President and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jeffrey Riggs said: "While current techniques require additional processing, SmartSense detection is direct, positive, and binary, providing a real-time indication of the presence of a virus such as avian flu on a molecular level. The SmartSense system instantaneously detects unique interaction signatures with extremely high reliability, and then wirelessly transmits the information to the necessary officials."

SmartSense -- which also detects HIV, tuberculosis, MRSA, E.coli, anthrax and smallpox, among others -- works by capturing the electronic signature of a virus or biological agent, which it then instantly recognizes. Once SmartSense has identified the presence of a virus, those operating the system are alerted.

It is hoped that such a detection system will be a boon in identifying carriers of avian influenza and may help stem the spread of a human pandemic should one occur.

Meanwhile:

-- Four Indonesian nurses who suffered influenza-like symptoms after treating patients infected with avian influenza did not have the disease.

A statement on the World Health Organization Web site said: "Test results have now convincingly ruled out H5N1 infection in all four nurses."

Two of the nurses worked in hospitals in Bandung, West Java, and two in Medan, North Sumatra.

The two Sumatran nurses had been involved in caring for the cluster of seven members of the same family who succumbed to the disease, the largest avian-flu cluster to have been identified thus far.

That the nurses have been cleared of avian-influenza infection suggests that the virus has not yet mutated into a human-to-human transmissible form capable of sparking off a deadly pandemic.

The WHO Web site said: "The negative test results for all four nurses provide reassuring evidence that the virus is not spreading efficiently or sustainably among humans at present."

-- Another Indonesian patient has recovered from avian influenza.

The man, who had been in the habit of collecting chicken feathers for use in his handicrafts, had been at Dr. Soetomo state hospital, in Surabaya, East Java, since mid-May, after having been moved there from a hospital closer to his home.

Hospital spokesman Urip Murtedjo was quoted by Antara news agency as saying of the patient, "medically, he is declared free from the disease."

-- The European Union's veterinary experts have given their support to a proposal to extend the current Romanian poultry ban, which only covers live poultry, to all poultry and poultry products.

In a statement, the EU executive said: "Romania is applying stringent eradication and control measures ... supplementary biosecurity measures are in force in all 42 Romanian countries. However, outbreaks are still being detected and the situation is being closely monitored by the Commission."

-- The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization is contemplating monitoring bird migrations in an attempt to monitor the spread of avian flu.

Following a conference in Rome last week, UNFAO Chief of Animal Health Services Joseph Domenech, said: "A few months ago we were convinced that the virus would come to Africa because of wild birds. There is no evidence of that today."

The proposed project would use sensors and communications satellites to study the migration patterns, which would then be compared with reports of outbreaks in an attempt to study the movement of a disease that has many scientists befuddled.

Source: United Press International

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