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EINet Alert ~ Aug 04, 2006


*****A free service of the APEC Emerging Infections Network*****
APEC EINet News Briefs offers the latest news, journal articles, and notifications for emerging infections affecting the APEC member economies. It was created to foster transparency, communication, and collaboration in emerging infectious diseases among health professionals, international business and commerce leaders, and policy makers in the Asia-Pacific region.
In this edition:
- Global: Cumulative number of human cases of avian influenza A/(H5N1)
- Global: Hybrid avian-human flu virus didn't spread in lab study
- Global: Indonesia, FAO, OIE pledge to publish H5N1 data
- Bulgaria: Bulgaria's agriculture minister fears Romania's bird flu
- Netherlands: Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) strain in a poultry farm
- Thailand: 6 suspected avian influenza cases; 164 persons under surveillance
- Thailand: New bird flu outbreak confirmed along Thai-Lao border
- Laos: UN body says H5N1 bird flu found on Lao farm
- Indonesia: 6 suspected cases of avian influenza
- Indonesia: Chickens test positive for bird flu
- Indonesia: Suspected bird flu siblings hospitalized in North Sumatra
- Vietnam: A gateway for bird flu; ignoring chicken import ban, smugglers bring virus over border from China
- Vietnam: Man tested for avian flu after consuming duck
- China: Highly pathogenic avian influenza in China (Update)
- China: Most recent case of avian influenza virus infection released from habitual care
- USA (North Carolina): Experts seek cause of death for local ducks
- USA: USDA releases 180-day report on avian influenza efforts and supplemental spending
- Cote d'Ivoire: Avian influenza in Cote d'Ivoire (update)

1. Updates
- Avian/Pandemic influenza updates

2. Articles
- Recommendations from FAO and OIE International Scientific Conference on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds (Rome, Italy 30-31 May 2006)
- Lack of transmission of H5N1 avian-human reassortant influenza viruses in a ferret model
- OFFLU Network on Avian Influenza
- Qinghai-like H5N1 from domestic cats, Northern Iraq


Global
Global: Cumulative number of human cases of avian influenza A/(H5N1)
Economy / Cases (Deaths)

2003
Viet Nam / 3 (3)
Total / 3 (3)

2004
Thailand / 17 (12)
Viet Nam / 29 (20)
Total / 46 (32)

2005
Cambodia / 4 (4)
China / 8 (5)
Indonesia / 17 (11)
Thailand / 5 (2)
Viet Nam / 61 (19)
Total / 95 (41)

2006
Azerbaijan / 8 (5)
Cambodia / 2 (2)
China / 11 (7)
Djibouti / 1 (0)
Egypt / 14 (6)
Indonesia / 37 (31)
Iraq / 2 (2)
Thailand/ 1(1)
Turkey / 12 (4)
Total / 88 (58)

Total no. of confirmed human cases of avian influenza A/(H5N1), Dec 2003 to present: 232 (134).
(WHO 7/26/06 http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avianinfluenza/en/ )

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Global: Hybrid avian-human flu virus didn't spread in lab study
In an experiment designed to mimic events that could launch an influenza pandemic, a synthetic influenza virus made by combining an H5N1 avian flu virus with a human flu virus turned out to be no more contagious in an animal model than the natural H5N1 virus, US scientists are reporting this week. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made 2 hybrid viruses and infected ferrets with them, according to a report to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The viruses failed to spread from infected ferrets to healthy ones in neighboring cages. "We found that they [the viruses] were not able to transmit efficiently," said CDC researcher Dr Jackie Katz, speaking at a teleconference on 28 Jul 2006. "In fact, they were also not as able to cause severe disease as the original H5N1 virus."
(Promed 8/1/06, CIDRAP 7/31/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ ; 7/31/06 US government’s web site for pandemic/avian flu http://www.pandemicflu.gov/)

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Global: Indonesia, FAO, OIE pledge to publish H5N1 data
OFFLU, the OIE/FAO joint network of expertise on avian influenza, will systematically make avian influenza virus sequences accessible to the entire scientific community. With this gesture, OFFLU reiterates its call to world scientists, international organizations, and countries for a global sharing of virus strains and sequences.

Since its launch in April 2005, OFFLU has been mainly working on promoting the key objectives "to exchange scientific data and biological materials (including virus strains) within the network and to share such information with the wider scientific community." Under this new impetus, strains will be sent to the National Institute for Health for sequencing and deposited in full transparency on the free-access database, GenBank.The stance taken by G8 leaders in Russia on global sharing of virus samples further strengthens this daring initiative. In its statement on the fight against infectious diseases, the Group of 8 declared being "determined to achieve tangible progress in improved international cooperation on the surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases, including better coordination between the animal and human health communities, building laboratory capacities, and full transparency by all nations in sharing, on a timely basis, virus samples in accordance with national and international regulations and conventions, and other relevant information about the outbreaks of diseases."

In an apparent policy shift, Indonesia promised today [3 Aug 2006] to freely share genetic data on H5N1 avian influenza viruses, according to a Bloomberg news report. That announcement comes 2 days after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) pledged to "systematically" publish avian flu virus sequences and urged others to follow suit.
(Promed 7/29/06, 8/2/06, CIDRAP 8/3/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/, 8/1/06 US government’s web site for pandemic/avian flu http://www.pandemicflu.gov/)

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Europe/Near East
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's agriculture minister fears Romania's bird flu
Now that Bulgaria has calmed down because the bird flu found in the south has been tamed, the country should worry about pressure from its northern neighbor Romania, agriculture minister Nihat Kabil said.

Romania's bird flu hotbeds may present a problem for Bulgaria in the fall, as they are of the deadly-to-humans H5N1 strain, Kabil said for private Darik radio on Saturday [29 Jul 2006].

The bird flu found in Bulgaria is not of the strain that may kill humans, but the danger is far from gone, Kabil explained, as once the migration period starts, Romania's outspread may become a threat.

Kabil also said that the preemptive halt of poultry exports was good for Bulgaria, as this would allow the country to resume exports on its own terms, since it beat the EU to placing the embargo.
(Promed 7/31/06)

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Netherlands: Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) strain in a poultry farm
Dutch authorities have detected a low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) strain in a poultry farm in the central region of Gelderse Vallei, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday [1 Aug 2006]. "This strain is much less dangerous than the strain that hit the Netherlands in 2003," the ministry said in a statement. "But because it might mutate to a more aggressive form... we have closed the farm and launched regular monitoring."

The Netherlands is one of the world's top poultry exporters and Europe's 2nd biggest producer after France. The statement did not say which strain exactly was found in the farm. "It's not H5 for sure," said a ministry spokesman but could not give other details.

Dutch authorities have never reported any cases of the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu strain found in several European Union countries.
(Promed 8/1/06)

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Asia
Thailand: 6 suspected avian influenza cases; 164 persons under surveillance
In Thailand, a 9-year-old girl from Lop Buri province died yesterday [3 Aug 2006] of suspected avian flu, the Bangkok Post reported. She is from the same province where a suspected case was reported in a 61-year-old woman yesterday [3 Aug 2006].

A provincial health official, Pranor Khamthieng, told the Post the girl had initially tested negative for the H5N1 virus, but her symptoms suggested the disease. The Thai News Agency reported that the girl suffered fever, sore throat, and severe cough for 2 days before she was hospitalized with breathing difficulties. Samples were sent to a lab in Bangkok for a more thorough investigation, the Post reported. The Thai News Agency said the girl’s family raises about 20 fighting cocks, but provincial authorities inspected her house and nearby areas and found that none had died suspiciously.

In the northern province of Nan, [another] 4 suspected bird flu cases were reported and officials are waiting from their lab test results. Meanwhile, agriculture and cooperatives minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said Thailand would jointly discuss with officials of neighboring countries on measures to control bird flu disease. The ministry will also hold a meeting of livestock officials in 21 at-risk provinces on Saturday [5 Aug 2006] to thrash out measures to prevent bird flu.

Elsewhere in Thailand, the Post reported today that two patients in Chachoengsao province, east of Bangkok, have been isolated at Ban Pho Hospital because of suspected avian flu. Doctors at the hospital told the Post that initial tests indicated the patients had regular influenza and that they were awaiting the results of avian flu tests. One doctor said the patients, a 17-year-old boy and a 42-year-old woman, had touched ducks at a slaughterhouse where they both worked. A local livestock official, however, said no bird flu outbreaks had been reported on chicken farms in the province, according to the Post.

As of yesterday [3 Aug 2006], the Thai Health Ministry reported that 164 patients from 21 provinces were under surveillance for possible avian flu.

Thailand’s only confirmed avian flu case so far this year was in a 17-year-old boy who died of the disease Jul 24 in Phichit province. The entire country is on bird flu alert after outbreaks surfaced in July in the northern and central provinces, ending a nearly 8-month hiatus. The Thai Ministry of Health website regularly lists the number of people under observation for possible avian influenza virus infection, together with the number of suspected and confirmed cases; see http://thaigcd.ddc.moph.go.th/AI_case_report_060729.html.
(Promed 7/28/06, 7/29/06, 8/1/06 8/4/06; CIDRAP 8/3/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/)

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Thailand: New bird flu outbreak confirmed along Thai-Lao border
The H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in the Thai northeast, bordering Laos, prompting culling of 310 000 hens after the virus killed a teenager elsewhere in the country last week, the Agriculture Ministry said on Sunday [30 Jul 2006].

"The lab results confirmed last night chickens from a village in Nakohn Panom province have died of bird flu," Vice Agriculture Minister Charal Trinwuthipong told Reuters. "The culling on all 78 farms has already begun, and we hope to finish them all by tonight," he said. Charal said the outbreak in Nakohn Panom, 740 km (460 miles) northeast of Bangkok, might be caused by H5N1-infected egg trays taken from "the other side" of the border, in an apparent reference to Laos. "These egg merchants were too lazy to swap eggs from their trays to those of their customers'. They just swapped the trays and that's how the disease spread to the village," he said.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday [28 Jul 2006] the deadly virus was also found on a poultry farm in Laos, the country's 1st major outbreak since 2004. The outbreak occurred on a commercial farm 25 km (15 miles) south of Vientiane, where about 2500 chickens died last week, according to state media reports. The same farm experienced an outbreak in early 2004, when the virus swept through parts of Asia, including Communist-led Laos, where most of its 5.6 million people live in remote rural areas.

The FAO was due to send a bird flu expert to Laos on Tuesday [1 Aug 2006] to assess the situation, an FAO official said.

Thailand is offering help to Laos in stamping out bird flu, a Thai official said on Monday [31 Jul 2006].

A delegation is due to arrive in the Lao capital Vientiane on Thursday [3 Aug 2006] to discuss cooperation in fighting bird flu outbreaks, which led to the culling of hundreds of thousands of chickens in Thailand and Laos last week, livestock development chief Yukol Limlaemthong said.

Thai officials said on Sunday [30 Jul 2006] that 78 farms in Nakhon Panom had been hit by the virus shortly after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed an outbreak in a suburb of Vientiane, the Lao capital.

The Vientiane outbreak is the only known case in Laos, while Nakhon Panom is 300 km (200 miles) to the south east. Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman Yong Chanhthalansy said there had been no reports of outbreaks across the border from Nakhon Panom.
(Promed 7/28/06, 7/30/06, 7/31/06; CIDRAP 7/31/06, 8/1/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/)

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Laos: UN body says H5N1 bird flu found on Lao farm
The H5N1 bird flu virus has been found on a poultry farm in Laos, the country's 1st major outbreak since 2004, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday [28 Jul 2006].

The outbreak occurred on a commercial farm 25 km (15 miles) south of Vientiane, where about 2500 chickens died last week, according to state media reports. The same farm experienced an outbreak in early 2004, when the virus swept through parts of Asia, including Communist-led Laos, where most of its 5.6 million people live in remote rural areas. Since then, the only previous discovery of the H5N1 virus in Laos had been in a single duck in May this year [2006].

"The government of Laos has taken immediate action to control the spread of the virus by culling all chickens in the farm, disinfecting the farm and imposed movement restrictions within the 5-km surveillance zone," said Wantanee Kalpravidh, FAO regional coordinator for Avian Influenza Projects.

FAO and Lao investigators were scouring the area for the source of the outbreak. State media reported the H5 subtype was 1st detected on the Dongbang poultry farm in Xaythany district on 18 Jul 2006. A Thai lab confirmed later the virus was H5N1.
(Promed 7/28/06, CIDRAP 7/28/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ )

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Indonesia: 6 suspected cases of avian influenza
Preliminary tests came back negative for H5N1 in six patients from the same district in Sumatra where the world’s first lab-confirmed human-to-human transmission of avian flu occurred in a family cluster, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.

The suspected illnesses in the six patients had raised fears of more human-to-human transmission, because the group appeared to include two family clusters. Of the six patients, three were children: two siblings, aged 10 and 6, and an 18-month-old neighbor.

An Associated Press report yesterday[1 Aug 2006] had said there were a total of seven patients in the two possible clusters. But AFP reported today that a local hospital official in Kabanjahe village said it appeared that one patient had been counted twice.
(Promed 8/3/06, 8/4/06 CIDRAP 8/2/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/)

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Indonesia: Chickens test positive for bird flu
Around 300 birds died of the virus over the past week in Bali's westernmost Jembrana district. Indonesia, a vast archipelago comprising nearly 18 000 islands, has posted 42 human deaths since July 2005 and is tied with Viet Nam as the world's hardest-hit country.

The World Health Organization [WHO] has said that limited human-to-human transmission may have occurred in a family on Sumatra island, the location of the world's largest cluster of human infections, the AP reports.

Health authorities were forced to cull large numbers of ducks and chickens on Bali earlier this year [2006] after birds became ill.
(Promed 8/2/06)

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Indonesia: Suspected bird flu siblings hospitalized in North Sumatra
Three Indonesian children have been admitted to hospital with suspected avian influenza in a North Sumatran district where 7 members of an extended family died from the disease in May [2006], officials said on Wed 2 Aug 2006. The 3 -- 2 siblings aged 10 and 6 and their 18 month old neighbor -- were admitted to the state-run Adam Malik hospital on Tue 1 Aug 2006 after showing symptoms of bird flu, said hospital director Luhur Suroso. "We are testing samples taken from them," Suroso told Reuters. He declined to give further details.

Hariadi Wibisono, the Health Ministry's director-general of control of animalborne diseases, said the patients lived in Karo district in North Sumatra province, where bird flu killed as many as 7 people in an extended family in May [2006]. The deaths in Karo were the biggest cluster of the disease the country has recorded and sparked fears of a global pandemic of bird flu infections in humans. The World Health Organization said in May 2006 that 2 members of the cluster, an Indonesian man and his son, might have caught the virus in a case of direct human-to-human transmission, but the virus did not spread very far if this did happen. "They are from the same district but a different village," Wibisono said, referring to the 3 new suspected cases.

Indonesia has been criticized for not doing enough to stamp out H5N1, which still remains essentially an animal disease, but which experts fear could spark a pandemic if it mutates into a form that can pass easily among people. The government has so far shied away from mass culling of poultry, citing lack of funds and impracticality in a country with millions of backyard fowl. (Promed 8/2/06)

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Vietnam: A gateway for bird flu; ignoring chicken import ban, smugglers bring virus over border from China
These traffickers haul more than 1000 contraband chickens a day into Lang Son, one of 6 Vietnamese provinces along the Chinese border, flouting a chicken import ban. In doing so, heath experts say, they have also repeatedly smuggled the highly lethal bird flu virus from its source in southern China into Viet Nam, where the disease has taken a devastating toll on farm birds and killed at least 42 people since 2003.

As bird flu continues to spread across the Eastern Hemisphere, international health experts warn that illegal trade in poultry, poultry products and other birds is often the primary cause. "Both between and within countries, commerce is an incredibly important factor," said Juan Lubroth, chief of infectious animal disease for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. "We try to press with governments that it has to be controlled or managed better. But like trafficking in humans, weapons and drugs, with poultry it's not any easier."

Vietnamese veterinary officials disclosed in April [2006?] that they had found bird flu in a sample taken from smuggled chickens confiscated in Lang Son during a bust on the border. Days later, officials in the remote, neighboring province of Cao Bang reported the virus in poultry samples taken from 3 farms on the Chinese border, after dozens of chickens had started dying, and smuggling was suspected. These 2 episodes were the 1st official cases of bird flu in Viet Nam since December 2005.
(Promed 7/30/06)

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Vietnam: Man tested for avian flu after consuming duck
35 year old man from Viet Nam's southern Kien Giang province has been hospitalized after eating meat from a duck that died and then exhibiting bird flu symptoms, local media reported on Thursday [3 Aug 2006]. The man from Giong Rieng district was admitted to the Kien Giang General Hospital on 30 Jul 2006 after having high temperature and respiratory failure, and the doctors said his lung has been severely damaged, according to Youth newspaper.

The patient's relatives said he slaughtered [butchered?] and ate a dead duck offered by a neighbor one week before hospitalization. Three days after eating the meat, he had high fever and took medicine at home. Specimens from the patient are being tested for [H5N1 avian influenza virus].

Vietnamese news media have reported that ducks from two households in the southern province of Tay Ninh recently died suspiciously and test results were pending. Tay Ninh is also on the Cambodian border.
(Promed 8/4/06, CIDRAP 8/3/06 http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/)

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China: Highly pathogenic avian influenza in China (Update)
Information received on 21 Jul 2006 (up to 20 Jul) from Mr Jia Youling, director general, Veterinary Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing: New outbreak: An outbreak occurred in the Xinjiang autonomous region in Akesu region. It occurred in a village, Yinglanganawatis, on 14 Jul 2006 and included 6000 susceptible birds with 3045 cases and deaths. The report does not describe what happens to the rest of the birds.

Description of affected population: poultry (chickens).

Results: hemagglutination inhibition test; RT-PCR; virus isolation in SPF eggs; intravenous pathogenicity index test on 19 Jul 2006 were positive

Source of outbreak or origin of infection: unknown or inconclusive;

Other details/comments: A total of 356 976 susceptible animals have been destroyed in and around the outbreak.
(Promed 7/31/06)

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China: Most recent case of avian influenza virus infection released from habitual care
China's latest bird flu patient was discharged from hospital on Wed [2 Aug 2006] in Guangdong Province, local health authorities said. After being treated in the Donghu Hospital for 50 days, the patient, 31, a truck driver from Shenzhen, had recovered sufficiently to leave, the Shenzhen municipal health department said.

On 15 Jun 2006, the Ministry of Health confirmed that the patient had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, bringing China's total human infections to 19. The truck driver had been to a local market where live poultry was sold several times before developing symptoms of fever and pneumonia on 3 Jun 2006.

The truck driver's condition was the most serious of all the bird-flu patients who have recovered in China, according to the department. He has been doing well since late June. Examinations showed the avian influenza virus was no longer in his system by 22 Jun 2006, and by 5 Jul he was able to breathe without the use of a respirator. Health workers will monitor his physical condition after he leaves hospital, the department said.
(Promed 8/4/06)

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Americas
USA (North Carolina): Experts seek cause of death for local ducks
The N.C. Department of Agriculture still doesn't know exactly what killed several ducks and left others sick earlier this week in downtown Swansboro. But it's definitely not bird flu, state officials said Thursday [27 Jul 2006]. Representatives from the Department of Agriculture were in Swansboro Wednesday collecting samples from sick Muscovy ducks. A necropsy -- an animal autopsy -- was also done on one of the dead birds, but the cause of death isn't known yet, said Brian Long, spokesman for the Department of Agriculture. "We are still working on it," Long said. "We haven't turned up any cause yet. It could take several days."

State officials are running a variety of tests -- everything from toxicology to bacterial tests -- in an attempt to rule things out.
(Promed 7/29/06)

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USA: USDA releases 180-day report on avian influenza efforts and supplemental spending
The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released its 180-day report on avian influenza (AI) efforts and the use of $91 million appropriated in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation to Address Pandemic Influenza six months ago. The report details USDA's efforts both internationally and domestically to combat highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1).

"We're working with federal and state government partners, as well as industry to prepare the public for the possibility of a highly pathogenic avian influenza detection in the United States," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner. "From the emergency response teams we have dispatched to affected countries to the testing of both wild and domestic flocks in the U.S., our approach will help to slow the spread of the virus overseas and prepare for the possibility of a detection here."

USDA plays many important roles in the government's response and is leading the efforts to confront this disease in birds. USDA is prepared to quickly and decisively respond in the event of a detection of HPAI H5N1 in U.S. poultry.
(USDA 7/29/06 http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2006/06/0228.xml)

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Africa
Cote d'Ivoire: Avian influenza in Cote d'Ivoire (update)
Translation of information received on 20 Jul 2006 from Dr Kanga Kouame, director of veterinary services and quality, Ministry of Animal Production and Fish Resources, Abidjan:

End of previous report period: 15 May 2006 (Disease Information 2006; 19[21]: 407, 25 May) End of this report period: 20 Jul 2006.

New outbreak: An outbreak in San Pedro region, near Grand Bereby occurred at the SO.GB industrial rubber plantation village, 550 km south west of Abijan, on 10 Jun 2006. About 890 chickens, around 100 ducks and around 10 pigeons (free-ranging system) were susceptible and 5 birds affected. It appears that a wild bird was also found dead.

Description of affected population: 5 traditional chickens and a wild bird found dead.

Other details/comments: Despite a heavy concentration of susceptible animals, there has not been the high mortality usually associated with avian influenza. In San Pedro region, an awareness and information campaign for consumers, producers, poultry merchants and the general public has been carried out. Posters and leaflets have been distributed to the Prefecture, the Regional Directorate for Agriculture and SO.GB. The implementation of regulatory sanitary measures has enabled the outbreaks of avian influenza in Abidjan district to be contained. This led to the reopening on 10 Jun 2006 of 57 poultry markets, which had been closed in compliance with the conditions laid down in an order regulating the opening of poultry markets.
(Promed 7/31/06)

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1. Updates
Avian/Pandemic influenza updates
- WHO: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/en/index.html.
- UN FAO: http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/subjects/en/health/diseases-cards/special_avian.html.
- OIE: http://www.oie.int/eng/en_index.htm. See the update on avian influenza in animals (8/2/06)
- US CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian/index.htm.
- The US government’s web site for pandemic/avian flu: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/.
- CIDRAP: http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/. Frequently updated news and scholarly articles.
- PAHO: http://www.paho.org/English/AD/DPC/CD/influenza.htm.
- American Veterinary Medical Association: http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/default.asp.
- US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center Avian Influenza Information:
http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/avian_influenza/index.jsp. Very frequent news updates. See update on H5N1 in poultry and wild birds (8/3/06)
(WHO; FAO, OIE; CDC; CIDRAP; PAHO; AVMA; USGS)

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2. Articles
Recommendations from FAO and OIE International Scientific Conference on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds (Rome, Italy 30-31 May 2006)
The rapid spread of HPAI H5N1 in wild birds has made its mark on public perception of such birds, and the international scientific community now faces the challenge of improving understanding of their epidemiological role in avian influenza outbreaks in Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa over the last two and a half years.

Between 30 and 31 May this year, FAO and OIE organised an international scientific conference on avian influenza and wild birds designed to start just such a process. The scientific committee of that conference has now officially issued its recommendations.
http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/subjects/en/health/diseases-cards/conference/documents/FinalRecommendations.pdf
(FAO 8/4/06)

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Lack of transmission of H5N1 avian-human reassortant influenza viruses in a ferret model
Summary: Avian influenza A H5N1 viruses continue to spread globally among birds, resulting in occasional transmission of virus from infected poultry to humans. Probable human-to-human transmission has been documented rarely, but H5N1 viruses have not yet acquired the ability to transmit efficiently among humans, an essential property of a pandemic virus. The pandemics of 1957 and 1968 were caused by avian-human reassortant influenza viruses that had acquired human virus-like receptor binding properties. However, the relative contribution of human internal protein genes or other molecular changes to the efficient transmission of influenza viruses among humans remains poorly understood. Here, we report on a comparative ferret model that parallels the efficient transmission of H3N2 human viruses and the poor transmission of H5N1 avian viruses in humans. In this model, an H3N2 reassortant virus with avian virus internal protein genes exhibited efficient replication but inefficient transmission, whereas H5N1 reassortant viruses with four or six human virus internal protein genes exhibited reduced replication and no transmission. These findings indicate that the human virus H3N2 surface protein genes alone did not confer efficient transmissibility and that acquisition of human virus internal protein genes alone was insufficient for this 1997 H5N1 virus to develop pandemic capabilities, even after serial passages in a mammalian host. These results highlight the complexity of the genetic basis of influenza virus transmissibility and suggest that H5N1 viruses may require further adaptation to acquire this essential pandemic trait.
Maines TR, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jul 31; [Epub ahead of print]

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OFFLU Network on Avian Influenza
Recognizing the global threat posed, particularly by the H5N1 epidemic, the international organizations OIE and FAO agreed in 2005 to establish a network of expertise to support international efforts to monitor and control this disease in poultry and other bird species. The network was designed from the start to interface with the existing WHO influenza network, which was focused on the threat to human health. The new animal influenza network was named OFFLU. Edwards S. OFFLU Network on Avian Influenza. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Aug [date cited]. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no08/06-0380.htm
(CIDRAP http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ )

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Qinghai-like H5N1 from domestic cats, Northern Iraq
Natural infection of several cat species with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses in Thailand (1–4) and experimental infection of domestic cats with similar viruses have been reported (5,6). Thus, literature describing HPAI H5N1 infection of cats is limited to descriptions of infections with a subset of clade I viruses. HPAI H5N1 viruses, highly similar to viruses isolated from Qinghai Lake in western People's Republic of China in spring 2005, are now rapidly disseminating throughout Eurasia and Africa. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a Qinghai-like virus detected in domestic cats. This finding is noteworthy because the host range of influenza viruses is determined by the antigenic characteristics of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase molecules; clade II viruses are antigenically distinct from clade I viruses, and Qinghai-like viruses are genetically distinct from other clade II viruses. Yingst SL, Saad MD, Felt SA. Qinghai-like H5N1 from domestic cats, northern Iraq [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Aug [date cited]. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no08/06-0264.htm
(CIDRAP http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ )

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 apecein@u.washington.edu