Swans and bird flu across the world – 02/18/2006

  • November 23, 2013 at 1:46 am #1134

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    ‘The H5 subtype of bird flu was found in a dead wild duck in France, and the government said Friday it was almost certainly the lethal H5N1 strain. If confirmed as H5N1, it would be France’s first case of the disease.

    Bosnia reported its first suspected case of avian influenza in two
    swans on Friday and further tests will show whether it is the deadly
    H5N1 strain. “Initial screening method was positive to avian
    influenza but the slower analysis should be completed on Monday and
    then we will know whether there is bird flu in Bosnia,” chief
    veterinary official Jozo Bagaric said by telephone. Bagaric said
    bird flu was suspected in two of four swans that were culled after
    inspectors spotted them on a lake in western Bosnia this week. “They
    had symptoms that pointed to avian influenza,” he said. The further
    tests were being carried out at Sarajevo University’s veterinary
    faculty, Bagaric said. “The samples would also be forwarded to the
    European Union’s reference laboratory in Weybridge (in Britain) but
    we will have to wait 5-6 days to get results from there,” he added.
    Bosnia, situated in the Western Balkans, is on one of the paths for
    migratory birds from central and northern Europe flying

    Austria found two cases of deadly H5N1 bird flu virus near Vienna on
    Saturday, raising the total number of cases there to seven and
    prompting a nationwide order to confine poultry indoors, the health
    ministry said. Health Minister Maria Rauch-Kallat told a news
    conference that a dead swan found in the Vienna suburb of Donaustadt
    and a dead duck found in nearby Lower Austria province had tested
    positive for suspected H5N1 infection. She said a poultry protection
    zone already established in southern Austria, where four swans and a
    duck tested positive for H5N1 earlier this week, had been extended
    throughout the Alpine republic as a result of Saturday’s discoveries.
    – Bird flu has killed its 19th human victim in Indonesia, a 23-
    year-old man, according to tests by the U.S. Centers for Disease
    Control and Prevention in Atlanta, an Indonesian health ministry
    official said on Saturday. “We have received the test result from
    CDC Atlanta. Purnomo (the victim) was positive,” said Hariadi
    Wibisono, director-general of control of animal-borne disease at the
    health ministry.

    The Ministry of Health in Iraq has confirmed the country’s second
    case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The
    case, which was fatal, occurred in a 39-year-old man from the
    northern province of Sulaimaniyah. He developed symptoms on 18
    January and died on 27 January. He was the uncle of the country’s
    initial case, a 15-year-old girl who died 17 January, and provided
    care for her during her illness. He also had a documented history of
    exposure to infected domestic birds. Problems with the shipment of
    patient specimens for external diagnostic confirmation have been
    solved. Samples from an initial 15 patients under investigation for
    possible infection were tested today at a US Naval Medical Research
    Unit located in Cairo, Egypt. Apart from the 39-year-old fatal case,
    all test results were negative. A second shipment of samples from
    additional patients under investigation arrived yesterday in Cairo.
    Results are expected within the next few days. Duplicate samples are
    being sent to a WHO collaborating laboratory in the United Kingdom
    for further testing and analysis.

    Three dead swans have been found on Poland’s Baltic Sea coast near
    the town of Krynica Morska, a spokeswoman for the town said. The
    carcass of the birds have been hand over to veterinary officials,
    who will conduct tests to determine if the birds were infected with
    the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, spokeswoman Anna Dyksinska said.
    Results of the tests were expected tomorrow, she added. The
    discovery of the dead birds in Poland comes after the European
    Commission said dead swans found on the German Baltic Sea island of
    Ruegen were infected with the H5N1 form of bird flu. Ruegen is just
    50 kilometers (30 miles) from north-western Poland.”

    Three dead wild swans found in southern Hungary have tested positive
    for the H5 avian influenza virus, the European Commission said on
    Wednesday. The European Union’s executive arm said samples from the
    birds were being sent to a specialist laboratory in Weybridge,
    Britain, to determine whether they had the H5N1 strain which can
    kill humans. “The Hungarian authorities are applying the same
    precautionary measures as other member states in which the H5N1
    virus has been confirmed or in which it is suspected in wild birds,”
    the Commission said in a statement. The H5N1 strain has been
    confirmed in wild birds in EU member states Greece, Italy and
    Germany, and is suspected in Slovenia and Austria. “The Commission
    will adopt a decision at 17:00 (1600 GMT) today on the precautionary
    measures to be applied in Hungary, just as it did for the other
    affected member states,” the statement
    said. Precautionary measures include setting up a 3 km protection
    zone around the area where the swans were found, and a surrounding
    surveillance zone of 10 km.

    The German government said that preliminary tests on two dead swans
    showed they were apparently infected by the H5N1 strain of bird
    flu. ‘On Thursday we will have confirmation from the (European
    Union’s) laboratory but the experts who I’ve spoken to personally
    and who did the (preliminary) tests indicated that it’s very
    probably this very dangerous virus,’ Consumer Protection Minister
    Horst Seehofer told public television channel ARD. He said he had
    called an emergency meeting on Wednesday of the country’s epidemics
    crisis group, Agence France-Presse reported. A spokeswoman for the
    agriculture ministry said four dead swans had been found on the
    island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea and two appeared to have the H5N1
    strain of the virus, which has cropped up in several European
    countries in recent days.

    Two swans found dead in the south of Austria are strongly suspected
    to have been infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus after
    having been tested for the strain, Austria’s Health Ministry said on
    Tuesday. If confirmed, these would be Austria’s first cases of
    H5N1. “There is the strong suspicion that the two swans … are
    infected with H5N1. That arose from first laboratory tests,” the
    ministry said in a statement, adding that samples had been sent to
    the EU’s reference lab in England for confirmation.

    The deadly strain of bird flu has killed 135 swans on the Iranian
    part of the Caspian Sea coast, the government said Tuesday. The
    official Islamic Republic News Agency said laboratory tests
    confirmed that the H5N1 strain of bird flu killed the swans at two
    locations in the Anzali marshlands. The H5N1 strain has killed at
    least 91 people in Asia and Turkey since 2003, according to the
    World Health Organization. The virus has been detected in Iran’s
    neighbors Turkey and Iraq. Almost all the human deaths have been
    linked to contact with infected poultry, but experts fear the H5N1
    strain of the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily
    among people, possibly starting a human flu pandemic.

    Romanian authorities identified an H5 subtype of the bird flu virus
    on Sunday in a southeast village near the Black Sea, the state
    Rompres news agency reported. The case was detected after dozens of
    domestic fowls and chicks died on a farm in the village of Topraisar
    in Constanta County. Two children, aged seven and four, were also
    reported to be suffering from mild respiratory problems and taken to
    hospital. Local authorities have sent samples of the virus to the
    national laboratory in Bucharest for verification. Topraisar was
    being sealed off for quarantine, with villagers receiving medical
    checkups and vaccinations. Rompres also reported that the three dead
    hens found last Tuesday in the village of Cetate, Dolj County, close
    to the border with Bulgaria, had proven to be killed by the highly
    pathogenic H5N1 strain, which can also infect human beings. The
    report came one day after the Agriculture Ministry confirmed the H5
    bird flu virus had been found in poultry in the Danube Delta village
    of Jurilovca. The virus was detected in preliminary tests Thursday,
    causing the culling of thousands of birds. Since the first outbreak
    of bird flu in October 2005, the epidemic has spread to nearly 30
    villages across Romania. No human case has been reported in the
    country so far.

    Greece said Monday two people had been placed in quarantine pending
    the results of tests for possible bird flu, just two days after
    confirming the disease in three dead swans. In both cases, initial
    tests have been negative, but the results of a second round of tests
    are expected in the next one to two days, officials said. “The
    procedure now requires that the two be placed under quarantine,”
    Panayiotis Efstathiou, head of the government coordinating committee
    on bird flu, told Greek radio. The first case involves a young man
    who came into contact with a swan nine days ago and showed flu-like
    symptoms. The second was a hunter who killed three wild ducks a week
    ago. Both are in quarantine in separate hospitals in the northern
    Greek city of Thessaloniki, close to where the initial cases of H5N1
    bird flu were found last week. Last week, the deadly strain of the
    bird flu virus was found in three wild swans, while tests are now
    being conducted on a wild goose from the Aegean island of Skyros.

    Athens, Feb 14: Greece yesterday confirmed a second outbreak of the
    H5N1 avian flu virus, after tests on a dead goose from the Aegean
    Sea Island of Skyros returned positive from an EU laboratory near
    London. The announcement comes two days after three dead migratory
    swans in northern Greece were also found to be carrying the virus,
    leading local authorities to impose zones of protection around the
    areas in question.

    Several wild swans died of H5N1 in southern Italy, Health Minister
    Francesco Storace said on Saturday, confirming the arrival in the
    European Union of the strain of the bird flu virus that can be
    deadly for humans. “Of the 17 dead swans, the majority (died) of
    H5N1, but this does not mean all (of them died of that strain),”
    Storace said on the sidelines of a news conference. “It is certain
    that the virus has arrived (in Italy),” he said. A ministry
    spokesman quoted Storace as saying some of the cases were the highly
    pathogenic strain of H5N1. Another EU member state, Greece, also
    confirmed on Saturday that three swans had tested positive for
    deadly H5N1, which has killed at least 88 people in Asia and the
    Middle East since early 2003. Non-EU member Bulgaria had also found
    a case, the European Commission said.

    Italy is continuing tests on the swans found dead in the southern
    island of Sicily and the regions that form the “heel” and “toe” of
    the Italian peninsula, Puglia and Calabria. The government will
    impose a ban on the transportation in those three regions of animals
    susceptible to the virus, Storace said, adding that no bird flu had
    been found in farm or domestic birds and there was no need to fear a
    risk to human health. A regional health official in Sicily said the
    swans were believed to have migrated from Russia. The news came as
    no surprise to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation
    (FAO), which has warned that migratory birds were likely to spread
    the virus into western Europe. A spokesman said the FAO was
    confident Italy was ready to deal with the outbreak and that the
    risk to humans was small.

    “In most of western Europe there are very effective veterinary
    services and the poultry industry is of an advanced sort, not
    the ‘backyard’ sort, so the likelihood of there being a danger to
    the human population is very much less than, say, in Africa,” the
    spokesman said. “We are confident that the Italian authorities have
    all the knowledge and experience and plans in place to take
    appropriate action,” he said. At present, humans can only contract
    bird flu through close contact with an infected animal, something
    that is far less likely with wild birds than farmed flocks. Asian
    countries affected by the virus have destroyed millions of birds.
    Experts fear that H5N1 will mutate just enough to allow it to pass
    easily from person to person. If it does so, it could cause a
    pandemic that could kill millions of people.

    Nigerian health workers are to test two children who fell sick on
    their father’s poultry farm to find out if they have been infected
    with bird flu, a state official said today. “We have received a
    complaint … from a farmer that the doves, geese and chickens he is
    raising are dying rapidly and his two kids are sick. They are
    coughing blood,” said Sa’idu Baba Chori, a Kaduna State agriculture
    official. “We’re now going there to take samples of the birds for
    laboratory analysis. The kids will also be examined to diagnose the
    nature of their ailment,” he told reporters outside Sambawa Farm, in
    northern Nigeria. The new suspected outbreak which may have affected
    the children is nearby, on the outskirts of the city of Kaduna, he
    said. Sambawa is one of four Nigerian farms now known to have been
    infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which can
    be transmitted from birds to humans and has killed 88 people in Asia
    and Turkey since 1997. Yesterday, Nigerian officials confirmed that
    they had found the first case of the disease in Africa after 45,000
    chickens fell sick and died in Sambawa. They are putting measures in
    place to contain the outbreak.

    Bulgaria has discovered two new cases of H5 bird flu in dead swans
    near its Black Sea coast and will send samples to a British
    laboratory to tell if it is the strain that can be deadly to humans,
    officials said on Thursday. The announcement comes a week after
    Bulgaria found its first case of bird flu in a sick swan in the
    Danube river. “We have two new samples from swans that have reacted
    to H5,” Agriculture Minister Nihat Kabil told journalists.

    Kabil said one of the newly discovered swans was found in the Shabla
    lake near the northern border with Romania, which along with
    Bulgaria’s southern neighbor Turkey, has been battling dozens of
    outbreaks of H5N1 since October. The other bird was found near the
    Black Sea port town Varna.Health Minister Radoslav Gaidarski said
    samples would be sent to an EU-certified laboratory outside of
    London on Monday.

    Greece said on Thursday it found samples of the H5 bird flu virus in
    three swans in northern areas of the country which borders with
    Turkey. The Bulgarian Health Minister urge calm, saying authorities
    had taken appropriate measures to stop the spread of the
    disease. “We shouldn’t panic the public,” Gaidarski said. “Even if
    we find new H5 cases, it’s not worrying if domestic birds are not in
    contact with wildfowl… We’ve taken additional measures to inform
    district officials to restrict domestic birds from going in the
    streets and lakes.”

    The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has been found in two more
    Nigerian states, the Agricultural Ministry said Thursday. The strain
    has been confirmed at two farms in Kano state and one in adjoining
    Plateau state, said Tope Ajakaiye, a ministry spokesman. The highly
    pathogenic strain of avian flu, found in Nigerian chickens, is the
    first time the strain has been found in Africa, the World
    Organization for Animal Health and the World Health Organization
    (WHO) reported on Wednesday.

    Africa’s first documented case was reported Wednesday in Nigeria’s
    Kaduna state, bringing the total to three states. “The federal
    government is doing everything to contain the disease within the
    three centers that have been located,” said Ajakaiye in a statement.
    The office of President Olusegun Obasanjo also confirmed the
    discovery of the disease. Alex Thiermann, special adviser to the
    director general of the World Organization for Animal Health —
    known as OIE, the initials of its French name — said the discovery
    of the disease in one part of Africa does not bode well for the rest
    of the continent. “We have been saying for a while that were the
    disease to get to Africa, it’s a continent where most countries have
    very weak veterinary infrastructure,” he told CNN. “And we know from
    our experience in Eastern Europe and in Southeast Asia that the
    rapidity to which the disease can be fought, and how quickly we can
    eliminate it … is very directly related to the quality of the
    veterinary infrastructures.”

    Sixteen other countries have reported outbreaks of the H5N1 strain
    of avian flu in birds. Human cases of the deadly strain have been
    found in seven of those countries. About half of those infected —
    88 of 165 — have died, according to the WHO. “It is disappointing
    that the virus has spread this far,” said WHO spokesman Dick
    Thompson. “This does not change our pandemic alert level. The virus
    is moving around, and it makes it more difficult to pry it out of
    the environment. This does not change the overall risk assessment in
    terms of a pandemic.” According to an OIE news release, the first
    outbreak occurred in a commercial setting in the village of Jaji in
    the northern state of Kaduna.

    Nigerian authorities quarantined the infected birds and began
    culling them. About 50,000 birds were affected, the organization
    said. Nigerian Information Minister Frank Nweke Jr. said three farms
    were quarantined, one each in the states of Kaduna, Kano and Jos and
    that they could be out of operation for up to a year. He said the
    government was paying farmers 250 naira ($1.95) for each bird culled
    to compensate for their loss and to encourage other farmers to
    report diseased birds. OIE spokeswoman Maria Zampaglione told CNN
    that the organization would assemble a team of bird flu experts to
    send to Nigeria by the end of the week and that the government was
    being helpful in its assistance.

    Part of the team’s job, she said, will be to determine how the birds
    came to be infected. Bird flu began ravaging poultry stocks across
    Asia in 2003, forcing the slaughter of 140 million birds and jumping
    to humans, killing dozens. It has since spread to Europe and the
    Middle East. Health officials had feared a deadly bird flu virus
    could enter impoverished, loosely governed African regions where
    many people raise chickens at home for personal consumption. Experts
    are also particularly concerned that H5N1 might mutate into a form
    spread easily among humans, triggering a pandemic capable of killing

    Iraqi and U.N. health officials said Monday a 15-year-old girl who
    died this month was a victim of the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird
    flu virus, the first confirmed case of the disease in the Middle
    East. Tests were under way to determine if the girl’s uncle, who
    lived in the same house, also died of the virus. He died 10 days
    later after suffering the same symptoms, officials said. Iraqi
    health authorities began killing domestic birds in northern Iraq,
    which borders Turkey, where at least 21 cases of the deadly virus
    have been detected. Turkey and Iraq also lie on a migratory path for
    numerous species of birds. “We regretfully announce that the first
    case of bird flu has appeared in Iraq,” Iraqi Health Minister Abdel
    Mutalib Mohammed told reporters in the Kurdistan city of
    Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad. Mohammed made the
    announcement after receiving results from the U.S. Navy Medical
    Research Unit laboratory in Egypt that conducted tests on the girl,
    who died Jan. 17. “The results show the inflection with the deadly
    H5N1,” he said. “We appeal to the World Health Organization to help

    In other recent developments:

    – A bird flu outbreak that killed four children in Turkey this month
    seems to have stabilized after authorities destroyed 1.5 million
    fowl to contain the virus, and no human cases have been reported
    since Jan. 18. But, a senior EU health official warned Friday that
    more Turkish cases of bird flu in humans are likely. “I would not at
    all be surprised if there were sporadic cases” of humans being
    infected by the H5N1 strain in Turkey, said Angus Nicoll, of the
    Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

    – Ukraine’s health minister has warned that the country may face a
    bird flu pandemic in the spring when wild birds migrate through the
    territory of this former Soviet nation, Channel 5 television
    reported Sunday. “Ukraine is among the countries where a bird flu
    pandemic may occur in the spring when birds migrate,” the TV network
    quoted Yuriy Polyachenko as saying in an interview late Saturday.

    – Cyprus was tightening controls to prevent bird flu on Sunday after
    tests on birds from the northern part of the island revealed they
    had died of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, a senior government
    official said Sunday. Ferdi Sabit, Prime minister of the Turkish
    Republic of Northern Cyprus, Soyer said on Sunday, “We have done
    everything we had to but I am not sure about the other side. I am
    calling them here openly to cooperate.”

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