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News Reports for March 2, 2013

by: NewsDiary

Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 19:50:06 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!

• Cambodia orders action to stop deadly bird flu (Link)

• SARS, 10 years later: One family's remarkable story (Link)

• Hong Kong: Update on cluster of Human Metapneumovirus cases in Pok Oi Hospital and cluster of Influenza A cases in Castle Peak Hospital (Link)

• One million chickens in Mexico are slaughtered after contract avian flu (Link)
• H7N3 virus outbreak affecting 39 Mexican poultry farms (translated) (Link)

• Certain groups entitled to free (H5N1) avian flu vaccinations  (Link)

United States
• Let us study gun violence, physicians beg Congress (Link to article by Maggie Fox, featuring FW's own DemFromCT)
• NIH scientists attempt to understand deadly new coronavirus (Link)

Bird flu research restarts (Link)

• Is This Scary New Virus the Next SARS? (Link)
• Medical Experts Worried about New Deadly SARS-like Virus  (Link)

• Recombinomics: Bat and Human Beta2c Coronavirus Comparisions (Link)

• H (Link)

NewsDiary :: News Reports for March 2, 2013

News for March 1, 2013 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 15, 2013
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

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Cambodia orders action to stop deadly bird flu
Phnom Penh on Friday ordered urgent action to stem the "worrying" number of bird flu deaths in Cambodia, following a surge in the number of fatalities from the virus.

Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive for police, agriculture and health departments to join forces to combat the virus, which has killed eight people since the beginning of the year -- the worst recorded outbreak in a nation that has seen a total of 27 bird flu deaths in a decade.

"Although there have been preventive measures taken by specialist institutions, the spread and the rate of human deaths from bird flu is at a worrying level," the order said.

The latest fatality was a 35-year-old man who died this week after eating infected duck.

Friday's directive ordered a mass disinfection of all poultry farms and markets across the country, as well as efforts to monitor birds' health and to stop illicit cross-border poultry transportation.


The country has seen 30 recorded cases of the H5N1 virus -- all but three fatal -- since a major worldwide outbreak in 2003. Continued: http://www.france24.com/en/201...

(Note: Of the 30 recorded cases in Cambodia since 2003, 9 of them have been in the first 2 months of this year. Click on the picture in the article to enlarge it and you will see ducks and chickens drinking water out of the same container at the same time. Not good!!)

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


One million chickens in Mexico are slaughtered after contract avian flu

There have been discrepancies about the number of infected birds and the number that were slaughtered. Agriculture Minister Enrique Martinez said that more than 2.1 million chickens had been killed earlier this week, including 519,000 egg-producing chickens, 722,265 breeding chickens and 900,000 chickens raised for meat.

Javier Usabiaga Arroyo, a state agriculture official, later put the total number was about 1.2 million, (Snip).

Officials have vaccinated 1.9 million birds since the outbreak began earlier this month, and they plan to vaccinate millions more. (Snip).

"The outbreak of avian influenza is controlled," Mexico's food safety agency said in a statement.

Other strains of bird flu have spread to humans, (Snip). (In 1998) Hong Kong authorities ordered all chickens for sale in markets to be destroyed after the H5N1 strand infected 18 people, killing six.

A major outbreak of the H5N1 virus in West Bengal, India last year led to the culling of 2.6 million birds.

There were 65 outbreaks of H5N1 worldwide in 2006, killing a total of 115 people, the highest number to die from the disease in a single year.

A new strain of avian flu, H3N8, killed 162 harbor seals in New England after jumping from birds to humans in July last year. Scientists warn it could be even more dangerous if it jumps to humans. http://www.catholic.org/health...


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


Mexico: H7N3 virus outbreak affecting 39 Mexican poultry farms

The H7N3 virus epidemic affects 39 plants producing chicken egg and in the states of Guanajuato (center) and Jalisco (West), reported Friday the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development.

Until 28 February "have been identified as positive 23 production units" in different municipalities of Guanajuato and "16 affected poultry units remain unchanged" in Jalisco, the agency said in a statement.

The secretary said he has inspected 66 farms and 33 backyard farms in the affected area, with a population of 7.4 million birds.

Mexican authorities had reported on 25 February that although the infection was under control, it was a highly pathogenic virus and exotic, for which Mexican birds have no natural defense. Country scientists have developed a vaccine to prevent the spread of avian diseases.

The slaughtered birds since the epidemic began in February are about 3.2 million, said the statement.


The unit, which plans to expand the application of inoculation in nine states for prevention, said that this week would be distributed 40 million vaccines, but the goal to apply about 210 million monthly vaccinations.

Another outbreak of avian influenza affected farms west of the country in June, when 22 million chickens were slaughtered.... Continued: http://translate.google.com/tr...  

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


[ Parent ]
Bird flu research restarts
Research is into artificial strains of H5N1 (bird flu) is resuming following a voluntary halt from scientists in January 2012 amid safety concerns. Professor Wendy Barclay from Imperial College London is one of 40 authors of a letter recently published in Nature, which outlines the situation and why some countries are restarting research. The letter declares an "end to the voluntary moratorium on avian-flu transmission studies" following a list of safety recommendations for this type of research from The World Heath Organization.

The letter in Nature says that the "benefits of this work outweigh the risks" with H5N1, as a "virus capable of transmission in mammals may emerge". The letter states: "We consider biosafety level 3 [BSL-3] conditions with the considerable enhancements (BSL-3+) to be appropriate for this type of work". BSL-3 is the second highest level of protection, which includes using fume hoods and filtered air to be released outside the lab. Continued: http://felixonline.co.uk/news/...

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


Bat and Human Beta2c Coronavirus Comparisions
Recombinomics Commentary http://www.recombinomics.com/N...

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


Let us study gun violence, physicians beg Congress

3 days ago
Photo caption:
Dr. William Begg, a physician who worked in the emergency room the day of the Newtown shooting, gets emotional as he speaks in front of a Senate panel on gun violence, stating "People say that the overall number of assault weapon deaths is small. Please don't tell that to the people of Tucson or Aurora or Columbine or Virginia Tech, and don't tell that to the people in Newtown. This is a tipping point and this is a public health issue."

By Maggie Fox, Senior Writer, NBC News

Dr. William Begg wiped away tears as he pleaded with Congress on Wednesday to help rescind laws that limit medical research into gun deaths and that restrict doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.


Dr. William Begg wiped away tears as he pleaded with Congress on Wednesday to help rescind laws that limit medical research into gun deaths and that restrict doctors from asking patients about guns in their homes.

Pediatrician Dr. Greg Dworkin agrees. He and about 100 other doctors from the Newtown area, Begg among them, have started a group called United Physicians for Newtown.
"We, the physicians, felt that we needed to do something and we needed to do it in a way that was consistent with our own profession," Dworkin said in a telephone interview.

"We got together as physicians to see if there was something we could agree on, knowing the whole issue of how to prevent violence like this is not so simple."

As in any community, the doctors in Newtown - who had begun calling one another and moving into place to help within minutes of learning about the shootings - have a range of political views.

"Newtown is a rural area," Dworkin said. It's full of hunters and sports shooting enthusiasts. Some people even have backyard gun ranges. The doctors were sensitive to fears that peoples' guns might be taken away from them.

[continued at link]

That's our own DemFromCT in the story above.
I can't tell you how much the Sandy Hook tragedy affected me personally. I was a first grade teacher and have a special love for this age group. As most of you did, I'm sure, I cried many tears for these children and their teachers. I will never forget it! We have got to curb gun violence in the United States! I know where my vote is going on this issue!

[ Parent ]
NIH scientists attempt to understand deadly new coronavirus

Published on March 1, 2013 by admin


Vincent Munster, a representative of the NIH's Virus Ecology Unit, attended the annual meeting of the Biodefense and Emerging Diseases sector of the American Society of Microbiology on Wednesday. Munster said the new virus is most closely related to coronaviruses carried by bats, but none of the people who got the disease had direct contact with bats, Science News reports.

The virus, which is related to the virus that causes severe acute respiratory disease, sickened 13 people and killed seven of them since last April in England and the Middle East. All but one of the infected were hospitalized with severe pneumonia. Several of the victims experienced kidney failure.

"We have a new and virulent virus," Gwen Stephens, a representative of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health in Riyadh, said, according to Science News. "We can only guess at its risks."

SARS infected approximately 8,100 people in 2002 and 2003, killing approximately 800 people. Unlike the SARS virus, the new virus does not seem to easily pass from person to person through the air. The cases suggest that people must come into direct contact with the virus, such as by touching a surface an infected person sneezed or coughed on.

[snip] The group was unsuccessful in an attempt to infect ferrets and mice, though it was able to cause illness in rhesus macaques. [snip]

Is This Scary New Virus the Next SARS?

By Disease DailyMarch 1, 2013

So does this new virus deserve to be compared with SARS, which took an estimated 750 lives and infected some 8,000 people? First, a quick biology lesson: All the organisms that cause us harm-called pathogens-can be divided into five groups: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and prions. Within viruses, there's a type of virus called "coronaviruses," and five of these can infect humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most of us are infected with a coronavirus at some point in our lives. The result is usually a mild respiratory infection; in fact, the common cold is caused by a coronavirus. But so is SARS.

Some scientists say that it's much too early to compare the new coronavirus to SARS. Volker Thiel, a researcher at Switzerland's Institute of Immunobiology, explained recently to a Chinese newspaper that we don't have yet enough information to tell which disease is more severe. What we do know is that there are distinct genetic differences between the two viruses. These differences have caused the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) to say definitively that this virus is not "SARS-like," and "will not become SARS."

WHO Offers Countries Help on Reporting SARS-Like Virus

But there are also some similarities. Apart from that fact that both belong to the coronavirus species, both can also sneak past our innate immune systems-that's the first round of defense against microscopic invaders, as opposed to our adaptive immune system, which launches very specific attacks against specific pathogens. Both viruses also affect the respiratory tract and both popped up seemingly out of nowhere. And this last similarity may be why the comparison to SARS could work in describing the new coronavirus-it reminds us of the vulnerability we may have felt when SARS appeared on the scene a decade ago.

Jim Garrow of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health says that it does matter what we call something, since names signal to the public how we want them to react.  While some decry "SARS-like" for inducing unnecessary panic, Garrow credits the media for using language with which the average person can relate.

After all, SARS demonstrated that our global society is connected in ways we perhaps never fully understood, making it easier than ever for infectious diseases to travel thousands of miles and infect untold hundreds, thousands-or worse. The WHO suggests that the discovery of this new coronavirus demonstrates the value of the International Health Regulations, which require WHO member states to coordinate and manage threats to international public health. The SARS epidemic, in fact, helped provide a framework that allowed infectious disease specialists to identify this new virus early on.


Medical Experts Worried about New Deadly SARS-like Virus

Posted by: Hossein Forouzandeh Posted date: March 02, 2013

Khalid Hussain was the first person from Britain who died from the new SARS-type virus in late February. Hussain was just 38 and died at a hospital in Birmingham, England after his father infected him. His father had just returned from a trip to Mecca, when Hussain become sick.

The symptoms of the SARS-like coronavirus are shortness of breath, a strong cough and a fever. Those symptoms are similar to a common cold. Shortly afterwards, breathing becomes difficult and the lips on the person start to turn blue.

Hussain was the first to die in the UK and his death has put the Health Protection Agency in the country on high alert.

Emergency room personnel and doctors have been told to take additional blood samples if the patient has recently visited the Middle East or Pakistan.

Public health laboratories across Britain have started working round the clock attempting to find the genetic fingerprint of the new virus.
Scientists at Holland's Rotterdam University are examining swabs that had been taken at the beginning of the outbreak more than eight months ago.

Researchers fear a worldwide outbreak could one day take place but say that could be years away. However, they warn that vaccines need to be developed and stockpiled along with antiviral drugs that can fight the new strains that they see emerging.

Taiwan - Certain groups entitled to free (H5N1) avian flu vaccinations

Taiwan has begun to provide free vaccinations against avian influenza H5N1 to people at high risk of contracting the deadly virus, such as laboratory staff, a senior health official said Saturday.


Due to the deadly nature of the virus, from now to Aug. 31 this year, the CDC will provide free shots of anti-H5N1 vaccine to people aged above 18. These include staff at laboratories that handle the flu virus, as well as those who work in quarantine units, in the coast guard administration, in airports and at customs points, Chou said.

Pregnant women, however, are advised to not get the shot, Chou said.

The vaccination is available at designated health centers and hospitals in cities and counties around Taiwan, Chou added.

COMMENT Interesting. I'd be more worried if this was China but Taiwan may know more than they're saying.

Thanks for the article, UK-Bird. I hadn't seen this one. nt

[ Parent ]
SARS, 10 years later: One family's remarkable story

This article is much more than just one family's story. It's a recap of how SARS evolved and the special impact it had on Toronto. It could have spread worldwide if they hadn't managed to contain it. This article certainly renewed my commitment to FluWiki. Read the whole article at the link:

Nurse Susan Sorrenti caught SARS in the line of duty. A decade on, her family's story is a reminder of what went wrong and the lessons learned:

Update on cluster of Human Metapneumovirus cases in Pok Oi Hospital and cluster of Influenza A cases in Castle Peak Hospital

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

Regarding a male infirmary ward at Pok Oi Hospital (POH) in which some patients had been confirmed with Human Metapneumovirus and a male long stay ward in Castle Peak Hospital (CPH) in which some patients had been confirmed with Influenza A recently, the spokesperson for New Territories West Cluster (NTWC) made the following update today (March 2):

One more 74-year-old patient in the concerned POH ward had presented with fever and respiratory symptoms. Appropriate viral tests were arranged for the patient and the test results is pending.The patient is being treated under isolation and is in stable condition.

Human Metapneumovirus infection most commonly occurs in late winter and early spring.The virus was first reported in Netherlands in 2001.Human Metapneumovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus and belongs to Paramyxoviridae family, which includes Parainfluenza Virus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus.The spokesperson stressed that it is neither SARS nor novel coronavirus.

In addition, three more patients (aged 25 to 57) in the concerned CPH ward had presented with respiratory symptoms. Appropriate viral tests had been arranged for the patients and their test results were positive to Influenza A.


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