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News Reports for March 1, 2012

by: NewsDiary

Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 15:07:54 PM EST

Reminder: Please do not post whole articles, just snippets and links, and do not post articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Thanks!

•  Second Cheung Chau bird flu scare in days (Link)

•  Bandung: Suspect Bird Flu Patient Condition Not Improved (translated) (Link)
•  Bandung: Patient Suspect Bird Flu in RSHS Increasing Critical (translated) (Link)
•  Bandung: Saliva Samples Suspect Bird Flu Investigated Soon (translated) (Link)
•  WHO reports human H5N1 case (Link)

•   Reports on bird flu cases denied in hospital (Link)

•  Thai authorities takes extra precaution in bird flu-prone areas (Link)

United States
•  FDA approves first vaccine to protect against 4 strains of common flu virus (Link)

•  US: Avian flu - Work by South Alabama researchers published in Journal of Virology (Link)
•  Genetically Altered Bird Flu Virus Not as Dangerous as Believed, Its Maker Asserts (Link)

•  H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for March 1, 2012

News for February 29, 2012 is here.

Thanks to all of the newshounds!
Special thanks to the newshound volunteers who translate international stories - thanks for keeping us all informed!

Other useful links:
WHO A(H1N1) Site
WHO H5N1 human case totals, last updated February 28, 2012
Charts and Graphs on H5N1 from WHO
Google Flu Trends
CDC Weekly Influenza Summary
Map of seasonal influenza in the U.S.
CIDPC (Canada) Weekly FluWatch
UK RCGP Weekly Data on Communicable and Respiratory Diseases
Flu Wiki Main Page

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China: Second Cheung Chau bird flu scare in days
(Note: Cheung Chau is a small island located about 6 miles from Hong Kong.)

A dead oriental magpie robin, which was found in Cheung Chau, has tested positive for the H5 bird flu virus in preliminary checks (Snip) This is the second bird of the species found with the H5 virus on the island within two days this month.

In the latest incident, the robin, which is common to Hong Kong, was found and collected at Hok Loo Lane. (Snip) A dead oriental magpie robin was found on the rooftop of a building on Hing Lung Back Street in Cheung Chau on Saturday. Testing also revealed H5 and confirmatory test results are pending.

"It is not a huge surprise that the two birds of the same species were found dead in Cheung Chau within two days, especially in winter," (Snip) "One bird may come in contact with another which has already contracted the H5 avian influenza virus."

The department also announced on Tuesday that a crested goshawk, which is not common to Hong Kong, also tested positive for H5. It was found at Diocesan Boys' School in Argyle Street, Mong Kok, on Friday. Seven dead birds were confirmed with bird flu H5N1 in January and February this year. (Snip) http://www.thestandard.com.hk/...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Avian flu: Work by South Alabama researchers published in Journal of Virology
MOBILE, Alabama -- The work of two researchers at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine was published in the January issue of the American Society for Microbiology's "Journal of Virology." Dr. Troy Stevens, professor of pharmacology and internal medicine and director of the Center for Lung Biology, and Dr. Ron Balczon, associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience and a member of the Center for Lung Biology, co-authored the article along with Dr. Terrence Tumpey, a graduate of the USA College of Medicine doctoral program and the senior microbiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The research, university officials said, focuses on highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses, which continue to cause sporadic human infections with a high fatality rate. "We all know that the flu is something to avoid, especially in children, the elderly, and in adults who are immunocompromised," Dr. Stevens said. "While the H1N1 and H3N2 influenza viruses are responsible for the well-known flu symptoms, some influenza strains such as H5N1 are more virulent, or highly infective, and cause even worse symptoms."

This research identifies a mechanism of virulence used by H5N1 to cause acute respiratory lung disease, where blood and fluid seeps out of blood vessels in the lung and into the airspaces, preventing patients from oxygenating tissues, USA officials said.

Stevens and Balczon said that for strains like H5N1 to illicit such responses, the virus must interact with human cells, where it replicates and is released in higher numbers. Research shows that H5N1 replicates in cells that line blood vessels and is released into the bloodstream, allowing the virus to spread.

"What is perhaps an even greater concern is that other emerging influenza strains will adapt the strategy of H5N1 to replicate in endothelium," Balczon said. Continued: http://blog.al.com/live/2012/0...  

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Genetically Altered Bird Flu Virus Not as Dangerous as Believed, Its Maker Asserts
The scientist who made a deadly bird flu virus transmissible in mammals, touching off public fears of a pandemic, said Wednesday that the virus he created was neither as contagious nor as dangerous as people had been led to believe.

His new revelations have prompted the United States government to ask that the experiments be re-evaluated by a government advisory panel that recommended in December that certain details of the work be kept secret and not published, for fear that terrorists could use them to make bioweapons. Critics of the work had also warned that the virus might leak out of the lab accidentally and start a pandemic.

"We heard many times that this virus would spread like wildfire if it would come out of our facility," said Ron Fouchier, the leader of the team that genetically altered the flu virus, at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "We do not think this is the case." Continued: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03...

(Note: Hat tip to cottontop who alerted me to Fouchier changing his story. She heard it yesterday on NPR. My question is, "what happened to him talking about it scaring him when he found out how easy it was to make the H5N1 airborne and how it killed all 40 ferrets?" Plus all the other things he said about it's lethality. It was the things he said about the experiment that made other scientist, etc. so afraid of the research information getting into the wrong hands. Sounds like this is just a desperate play to get the research published and IMO, it takes a lot away from his credibility.)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


This is outrageous!
This man has just lost all creditability with me! These people who call themselves "scientists" are not, but rather smart men who's pockets can be lined!! Hmmm, a new breed of politician. sigh

This will also affect the flu people who volunteer to bring a vital public health service to the world. We fight and struggle to maintain we are not a bunch of crazies and this, IMO, is a major blow to the flubies and our community.

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
Clearing up this mystery
I have been sitting on why such back tracking about the ferrets should appear now, and why would someone change their story. This is just bothering me  because something totally doesn't make sense. I need to know for my own piece of mind what has happened to the best that I can find and understand. And if I have wrongly accused someone of "being less than creditable" than I need to correct that and show why.

I have scoured the interenet, reading every article published on this, comparing notes, looking for a "culprit" that would explain this back tracking of the 40 dead ferrets. Here are some examples of what I found:

"Fouchier and his team's biggest discovery, however, was based on what he termed a "stupid" experiment. He and his team introduced mutations, under strict laboratory safety procedures, by reverse genetics into laboratory ferrets. They then collected a nasal wash from each infected ferret and inoculated another ferret after a few days. They repeated this process ten times. The result? H5N1 had been transmitted to three out of four ferrets."

"This virus is airborne and as efficiently transmitted as the seasonal virus," said Fouchier. His research team found that only 5 mutations, 3 by reverse genetics and 2 by repeated transmis- sion, were enough to produce this result. "This is very bad news, indeed," said Fouchier.


"The second misperception is that the virus would be highly lethal," Fouchier said. "It's absolutely clear that H5N1 is highly pathogenic for chickens, but in mammals this is simply not the case."

When ferrets are inoculated with very high doses of the mutant H5N1 strain in the lower respiratory tract, they die, but when they are simply exposed by the nasal route, "they might get sick but they don't die," he said.

Fauci and Fouchier commented further on the point in a question period later. At the WHO meeting, Fauci said, most participants thought that the mutant H5N1 virus spread easily among ferrets via sneezing and that all the infected ferrets died. "That is not what happens," he said. "When a ferret sneezes on another ferret, that ferret gets sick but does not die."

Fouchier added, "This virus does not kill ferrets when they are sneezed upon." He said he has never seen "severe disease" in ferrets infected by the aerosol route.

Regarding transmissibility, he said, "If anything, our data suggests that this virus spreads poorly. . . . Whether this virus if it would escape our laboratory would start spreading, we don't know."


Fouchier said that there are many misconceptions about the contagiousness and lethality of the H5N1 virus. While he did not provide details on the nature of the mutations that were created in his lab and enable aerosol transmission, Fouchier did say that the mutant virus "does not spread yet like a pandemic or seasonal flu virus" and that ferrets do not die when infected through aerosol transmission. Only when the virus was physically implanted into the trachea or nasal passages of ferrets did the infected animals die.
(sorry I forgot to save link to this)

"The concrete result of the research, he said, is a better understanding of what it takes for a flu virus to be transmissible through respiratory droplets among mammals.

The experiments involved "passaging" the virus among ferrets, he said. The wild-type H5N1 virus can be made to infect the animals, but it is not contagious to animals in nearby cages.

An animal infected with the mutated virus, on the other hand, will infect three of four animals in adjacent cages through coughing and sneezing.

That's an "important finding," he said. "We now know the mutations and the biological traits necessary for the H5N1 bird flu virus to be aerosol-transmissible between ferrets."

"But the ferrets only get seriously ill if they are deliberately infected intra-nasally with high levels of virus and then only in about one in eight cases, he said. "After aerosol transmission, we actually see no severe disease at all."


Over and over I read the same findings and these articles went back quiet far. Not one comment from the scientist that said all 40 ferrets died. So where then, did this "40 ferret death come from?" Than I stumbled upon something that pretty much cleared everything up to my mind. This time, the media got it wrong, and blew it. Apparently, from what I can find, it was ABC News who ran a news video report, about all 40 ferrets dying.  Nowhere is a scientist seen or heard on the video. The video hits associated press and away it went.


That was the link "All 40 H5N1 Exposed Ferrets Died Recombinomics Commentary" used that was also posted on FW:

I cannot find any creditable to the "40 ferrets die." Funny how this has turned out to be quiet the opposite of what we thought. When I think back, there wasn't any major news articles from publications that stated this. This wasn't news and if it had been stated in the scientist's findings, it would have been blasted all over every news channel all over the world.

So, becasue of this ABC News video I related to all the ferrets death, I beleived someone was backtracking last night from the intereview.(and at that point I had not read or seen any other articles on it.) I don't think that's so at this point. For now, I will retract my "no creditability" as I did not find evidence of backtracking. However, I reserve the right to reinstate it if I do find evidence. :-)

United we stand: Divided we fall

[ Parent ]
More on this
Reported in New Scientist http://www.newscientist.com/ar...


"The virus is transmitted as efficiently as seasonal flu," says Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who reported the work at a scientific meeting on flu last week in Malta.

They first gave H5N1 three mutations known to adapt bird flu to mammals. This version of the virus killed ferrets, which react to flu viruses in a similar way to humans. The virus did not transmit between them, though.

Then the researchers gave the virus from the sick ferrets to more ferrets - a standard technique for making pathogens adapt to an animal. They repeated this 10 times, using stringent containment.

The tenth round of ferrets shed an H5N1 strain that spread to ferrets in separate cages - and killed them.


Reported in Scientific American - The meeting where Ron Fouchier announced the findings of his research to a group of scientist in Sept. 2011 in Malta. http://blogs.scientificamerica...


Just across the hall, however, in the cannily named Eden Arena, the room was dark, as researchers prepared to mount the stage and explain some of the many ways that humanity might soon be threatened by a truly terrifying flu pandemic.

So maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic, but perhaps it should have felt more so. Less than an hour later, a suspiciously sniffly Ron Fouchier, a lanky virologist from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam with a wry smile and reassuringly understated manner, would announce that he and his lab had found a way to make the deadly H5N1 that would likely be just as transmissible from one human to the next as the seasonal flu.

So they "mutated the hell out of H5N1," Fouchier said, towering over the podium at the meeting's Monday morning plenary session. But as it turns out, they hardly needed to. With just a few genetic substitutions, the virus was able to affix to nose and trachea cells-a development "which seemed to be very bad news," he said. Fortunately for the lab's test ferrets, a common animal model for human flu transmission, the flu still didn't seem to pass airborne from animal to animal.

And that was when "someone finally convinced me to do something really, really stupid," Fouchier recounted. They put the mutated H5N1 into the nose of one ferret, then took a sample of nasal fluid from that ferret and put it in the nose of another. After 10 ferrets, the virus began spreading from ferret to ferret via the air just about as easily as a seasonal flu virus.

In all that ferret hopping, the virus gained only five new genetic substitutions. And that was also "very bad news," Fouchier proclaimed, adding an "indeed" for emphasis, just in case the ramifications were lost on any of the hundreds of flu folks in the audience.

"This is a very dangerous virus," Fouchier said, posing the question so many in the audience had surely been mulling over: "Should these experiments be done?" His answer was cool "yes." He defends his lab's work, which was funded by grants from the U.S. government, and he has spent the past weeks reassuring interviewers that the virus is closely controlled. "It's important that we keep working with these viruses," he said. And he advocates that the findings have an important power to "send out the message that H5N1 could become airborne," he said. And that knowledge should spur scientists and policy makers alike to work harder to develop better vaccines and try to eradicate it in the wild.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


[ Parent ]
FDA approves first vaccine to protect against 4 strains of common flu virus
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal health officials have approved the first vaccine that protects against four strains of the common flu, offering one additional layer of protection against the influenza virus.

The Flumist Quadrivalent vaccine from MedImmune protects against two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.

Previously all vaccines contained two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B (Snip) Having an extra strain of influenza B increases the likelihood that the vaccine will protect against illness (Snip)

Similar to the previously approved Flumist, the new vaccine is a nasal spray that delivers weakened strains of the virus. http://www.orlandosentinel.com...  

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Thailand: Thai authorities takes extra precaution in bird flu-prone areas
BANGKOK: Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri has ordered concerned officials to prevent any outbreak of the avian influenza in Thailand (Snip) Wittaya has issued the order to over 300 concerned officials responsible for the prevention of the bird flu, caused by the H5N1 virus, in areas at risk in 43 Thai provinces nationwide, including those along frontiers with neighbouring nations.

The minister said on Thursday that Thailand has been free of any new avian flu patient for over five years since 2006 and free of infected poultry for over three years, reflecting effective disease control on both humans and animals in the country. From January 2004 to July 2006, Thailand recorded 25 avian flu patients, 17 of whom died.

The public health minister cautioned, however, that the poultry disease and its transmissions to humans remain possible in Thailand because the avian influenza was spreading in neighboring countries. (Snip)

The Thai health minister (Snip) is concerned over new outbreaks of the avian influenza in neighbouring Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia, where the death rate stands at 82 per cent on average, precautions in Thailand have, thus, covered both poultry at farms and wild ones. http://www.nst.com.my/life-tim...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. --Unknown


Pakistan: Reports on bird flu cases denied in hospital
RAWALPINDI: A Holy Family Hospital spokesman has denied reports regarding bird flu cases in the hospital. He said that some reports had been published in a section of the press that suggested that the disease had once again surfaced and cases were being reported at the hospital, "which are absolutely false and baseless". The Holy Family Hospital medical superintendent told the media that no such case had been reported in the hospital, and "all arrangements have been made to meet any emergency situation on this count".


United we stand: Divided we fall

Suspect Bird Flu Patient Condition Not Improved
March 1, 2012
BANDUNG, Indonesia:  The condition of 42-year-old man who allegedly contracted the H5N1 virus (bird flu) has yet to improve.  This man was referred to Hasan Sadikin Hospital (RSHS) from Immanuel Hospital on Wednesday (29/2) evening.  When arriving at RSHS at 18.00 pm, the man was put on a ventilator due to respiratory failure.  He had also suffered kidney failure and disorders of other organs such as the liver.  He immediately entered the Bubble Flamboyan, and received treatment such as the provision of medicines to stabilize his blood pressure.

"Currently, the patient was still unconscious, because he is using a ventilator. So far he has been rather stable, but not both," said a spokesman for Infectious Diseases Special Medical Team Dr. Primal Sudjana RSHS Bandung, when contacted by telephone on Thursday (1/3 / 2011).

This is the second case in 2012 of bird flu suspect cases that is being handled RSHS.  Previously, SA (37), a resident of Kampung Mengger Girang, Village Pasirluyu, District Regol who was suspected of having bird flu, has died at the Bubble Flamboyant Hasan Sadikin Hospital on Tuesday (02/07/2012) at 16:35 pm.

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."  Thomas Jefferson

Patient Suspect Bird Flu in RSHS Increasing Critical
March 1, 2012
Bandung, Indonesia:  A bird flu suspect patient with the initial A (42) and a resident of Ranch Sawo, Marga Asih Buahbatu District, is still in the infectious disease isolation room for treatment at  Flamboyan RSHS Bandung.  Spokesman for Special Handling Team of Infectious Diseases at Hospital Dr. Hasan Sadikin Bandung, Primal Sudjana, said that because his condition is more critical, the patient is now fitted with a ventilator or auxiliary breathing aid.

"His condition is getting critical. Now we have fitted our patient with a ventilator as a tool, because the patient had liver failure, kidney and (was not?) breathing well," Primal told reporters when met about conducting the examination.

Primal explained that on Wednesday (29/02/2012) at 16:00 when going to Immanuel Hospital, he was suspected to be infected with Avian Influenza.  Previously, the patient complained of fever, aches, cough and cold.  But two days later the patient experienced shortness of breath and then went to Ujungberung.  Because the equipment did not support him, he was then referred to Immanuel Hospital.  Once his condition worsened, the patient was referred to RSHS and ICU admission.

"According to information from the wife of A, this patient was working as a farmer and maintained certain birds such as chickens and ducks," he said.

Primal was also recognized as the second time in 2012 that RSHS dealt with avian influenza after a few weeks ago U.S. died.  But from the sample specimen, the U.S. was declared negative.

"I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."  Thomas Jefferson

Indonesia: Saliva Samples Suspect Bird Flu Investigated Soon
March 1, 2012

Bandung, Indonesia: The saliva samples of patients identified as a suspect bird flu in Bandung RSHS be examined to ascertain whether positive or not infected with avian influenza.  Patient suspect bird flu H5N1, or the current condition and continue to be monitored more critical Doctor Tim RSHS Special Handling of Infectious Diseases. In addition fitted with a ventilator, for his blood pressure was also helped by drug injection.

"We have sent last night samples from the patient specimens, including saliva, sputum, smear, and blood. Since the entry of yesterday afternoon, so we sent last night," said spokesman Tim Infectious diseases Special Handling RSHS dr Primal Sudjana told reporters, Thursday (03/01/2012).

He said the samples will show a positive or negative patients infected with avian influenza or bird flu.
"At this time the patient was getting worse, because it is not aware of a patient given the drug by injection, and also have installed a tool. While the samples have been sent, new possibilities could be the result tomorrow," he concluded.


United we stand: Divided we fall

Indonesia: WHO (belatedly) reports human H5N1 case

Avian influenza - situation in Indonesia - update

1 March 2012 - The IHR National Focal Point in Indonesia has notified WHO of one new case of human infection with avian influenza A (H5N1) virus.

The case was a 12 year-old male from Badung, Bali. He had onset of symptoms on 11 February 2012 and was admitted to a private clinic on 16 February 2012. His condition continued to worsen, resulting in severe difficulty breathing. He was referred to an avian influenza referral hospital on 20 February 2012 where he died on 21 February 2012.

Epidemiological investigation into the source of infection indicated contact with poultry, though no poultry deaths within the household or neighborhood have been reported. The risk factors are still under investigation.

Of the 186 cases confirmed since 2005 in Indonesia, 154 have been fatal.  

Canada: 5 reasons why flu season is M.I.A. this year
CBC News
There's far less sneezing, wheezing and coughing in the air this year - flu season is largely missing in action across North America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the lowest influenza infection rate in 30 years of tracking flu activity, as well as the slowest recorded start to the flu season.

FluWatch in Canada and Google Flu Trends confirm those trends, said Dr. Peter Lin, a Toronto family doctor and commentator on CBC's Metro Morning radio show.


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