Nearly 5% of poultry in Vietnam bear bird flu viruses
HANOI, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Nearly five percent of 15,000 samples from healthy poultry in different cities and provinces in Vietnam have been tested positive to bird flu viruses, local newspaper People reported Wednesday.
Nearly 1.8 percent of tested waterfowls have bird flu viruses, the newspaper quoted a recent survey by the country's Department of Animal Health as reporting.
Fowls having high rates of bearing the viruses are raised in Lang Son, Ha Nam and Thai Binh in the northern region, Ha Tinh, DaNang and Quang Nam in the central region, and Long An, Dong Thap, Ca Mau and Tra Vinh in the southern region.
Bird flu is now hitting northern Thai Nguyen province and southern Tra Vinh province, said the department.
yesterday detained 15 different health directorates new cases were suspected of being infected with avian influenza to exceed the number of detainees in different governorates 55 cases of suspicion, while tests proved negative 33 others were detained were also monitoring 21 hotbed new in 8 days at the level of the Republic. In Western [Al Gharbiyah] Province, were detained 9 cases of family fully assess the village Alsjaih.
The father Hamada Darwish 45 years and wife Iman Musaad Desouki, 40 years and 20 years Fawzi son, Karim 15, and Muhammad 12 years, in addition to Huda Abd al-aged 28 and 14 years old Fathiya Bakry student Hospital salt and Mahala were detained while Ghada Abdel Ibrahim 30 years, Zeenat 37-year old Mohammad Rifai, hospital salt Tanta.
In Mansoura [Dakahlia] detained by the Directorate of Health both: Abdulaziz Shimaa 10 years, Center Line, Zakia Ibrahim Hamdi 45 years from the village swapbody, and Ibrahim Youssef Mohammed Aezzasenh Center Address, in a hospital Sadr addition to the existence of previous cases of Madiha Ibrahim, aged 55, and Jasmine just Mohamed 3 years, and Mohamed Adel Mohammed year and a half science, Hanan Mahmoud Aelchenaiti 28 years, the quality of Mr. Mohammed, aged 26, and Mahmoud Al quality of Mr. 25, and Abdel-Rahman Mahmoud Abdallah 58 years, Mr. Mahmoud Abdulwahid 49 years old, and Fatma Mohammed Eid 45 years, and insist Safnz Alija 25, and Mohammed Hamdi Muawwad 18, and Reza, Solomon and the `Nora, and the blessing of Muhammad Muhammad Abdul Hamid 35 years.
The central laboratories has shown some positive samples taken from them.
The above translation creates a confusing picture of the situation in Egypt. The number of admitted patients continue to accelerate (see satellite map) and many of the admissions are clustered, either by geography or family. The translation above has the highest number of negatives, but since the number of hospitalized suspect cases described in local media in the past week is approximately 200, identifying the negatives is difficult.
The family of nine is the largest familial cluster thus far, and the list in Mansoura is the longest list of named patients for a specific region. A week ago 10-25 patients were being admitted each day. Now the numbers are closer to 25-50 per day.
The finding of positive(s) by the central lab, raises concerns that the large number of hospitalized patients represents more than an over abundance of caution.
The number of locations reporting H5N1 positive birds continue to rise (see satellite map), and the hospital admissions follow the bird positives.
However, prior to the announcement above, there was no indication that the suspect cases were testing positive.
Flu Vaccine: Cell Death Suppression Increases Efficacy Of M2 Vaccines
ScienceDaily (Jan. 16, 2008) — Significant public attention has recently been focused on the development of new anti-influenza (flu) vaccines that provide protection against a broad spectrum of viral strains. One proposed strategy is to utilize conserved viral protein, M2. Clinical trials of M2-containing influenza vaccines were recently initiated by US and European companies.
Scientists from Cure Lab, Inc. in collaboration with Boston University School of Medicine published new findings indicating that unmodified M2 may have a negative effect on anti-influenza vaccination. The researchers also demonstrated how this detrimental effect of M2 can be eliminated, thereby allowing any future M2-containing vaccine to be both broadly protective as well as safe. This study appears in the January 16th issue of the online journal PLoS ONE, which provides free access of its publications to scientists and the general public.
Annual vaccinations against seasonal flu are known to be insufficient to fully prevent disease. The cause of this is a single predicament: current vaccines predominantly target two viral surface proteins, hemaglutinin and neuraminidase that are constantly mutating. Thus, a particular vaccine can be protective against a viral strain carrying matching hemaglutinin and neuraminidase, but will lose efficacy as soon as these proteins change (gradually or even in a single step). The latter process is known to continuously occur in nature.
In their attempts to make current strain-specific vaccines effective, the World Health Organization (WHO) has to annually predict the most likely viral strains that will be responsible for the next seasonal flu outbreak. This process takes place just a few months before flu season starts. This process is error prone, that is, it is possible that the vaccine may be manufactured against non-matching viral strains and not the one that may actually cause the epidemic. Moreover, as long as vaccines remain to be strain specific, it will be impossible to both manufacture them in advance and to enable their stockpiling. This, in turn, drives up the vaccine cost and makes its efficient world-wide distribution almost impossible.
Finally, the new strains of flu virus usually emerge in Asia and then migrate to Europe and North America. Recently, Indonesia demonstrated its reluctance to cooperate with WHO and restricted information exchange regarding the nature of a novel influenza strain. Several other countries in the region were sympathetic to Indonesia's actions. These and many other problems will never be fully resolved until anti-flu vaccines cease to be strain-specific.
However, all of the problems mentioned above could be alleviated by the development of a new generation of vaccine. Such a vaccine should be based on conserved flu proteins, which to a significant degree remain constant among all flu strains.
In addition to continuously mutating proteins, flu virus also possesses nucleoprotein (NP), and major matrix protein (M1), that reside inside the viral particle, and do not generate a strong antibody response. This may be the reason why these proteins do not naturally undergo significant mutagenesis and posses a striking degree of similarity among all influenza strains. Another conserved flu protein that is strongly expressed in virus-infected cells is a nonstructural protein 1 (NS1).
In the March issue of the scientific journal "Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses", Massachusetts-based biotech company Cure Lab, Inc. reported that vaccinating mice with a combination of genes encoding these three conserved proteins of flu virus, NP, M1 and NS1, protected mice against human as well as avian strains of flu virus. In particular, this included an experiment demonstrating protection against bird flu virus that encodes type 5 hemaglutinin or H5. The challenge with this viral strain was used as a model of potential pandemic outbreak, which many believe may be caused by spreading of avian H5N1 virus to the human population. Moreover, in the same paper, Cure Lab reported that the same combination of three conserved viral genes provided significant protection against H5-carrying influenza strain in the chicken model.
In addition to Cure Lab, several other companies are also pursuing attempts to utilize genes encoding conserved flu proteins as vaccine components. This includes the California-based company Vical, known for its chemical adjuvant Vaxfectin. Vical included another extremely conserved flu protein, M2 into its proposed anti-flu product. M2 is present in low copy numbers at the surface of influenza viral particles, but is expressed abundantly on the surface of infected cells. Most of the research groups, including British biotech company, Acambis, have attempted to utilize only an extracellular domain of M2 protein called M2e.
Despite some encouraging results demonstrating that if used at very high doses, M2e may induce a protective antibody response, the current opinion in the field is that it should be used only as a supplement to more potent antigens. One of the reasons may be that M2e lacks possible protective epitopes located within the intracellular and trans-membrane parts of M2. In addition, at least one recent report demonstrated that vaccination with M2e-encoding gene used in combination with the NP gene, exacerbated disease and increased mortality in pigs. In contrast to the Acambis strategy, Vical has included the gene encoding a full-size M2 into its vaccine prototype. The company reported that it had initiated clinical trials already.
"As it often happens, path-finding research starts as a result of an unexpected failure," said Dr. Alex Shneider, the senior author on the PLoS ONE paper and Cure Lab's CEO. "Initially, we believed that simply adding a gene encoding the full size M2 to our previously developed vaccine prototype would further increase the protective properties of the vaccine. Instead, we observed exactly the opposite".
Puzzled with such a counterintuitive result, Cure Lab went from product development to a basic science approach and asked the question: "Why would M2 decrease the efficiency of influenza vaccination?" Interestingly, for a number of years M2 was known to be insufficiently immunogenic in vaccine studies, which in fact, necessitated the utilization either of high doses of M2 or the shift to M2e-peptide as mentioned above. Earlier, Cure Lab demonstrated that M2 on its own may kill the cells producing this protein (uninfected with influenza). The scientists hypothesized that this is the underlying reason for the undesirable effect of M2 on vaccination. If this assumption was correct, then it would immediately suggest how to resolve the problem.
In order for M2 not to be able to exercise its negative functions, the protein should be "trapped" or neutralized in such a manner that prevents it from cell killing. Therefore, Cure Lab fused M2 with other proteins constituting a vaccine in such a way that NP, M1 and NS1 proteins restrict M2 functionality. This specific composite poly-protein, which did not kill the host cells, was selected based on its biochemical properties and cell-based assays.
Further animal testing demonstrated that the fusion construct containing all four conserved influenza proteins including "neutralized" M2, possesses much more promising protective properties than the same poly-protein without M2. "It shows us that the M2-gene can indeed be a valuable component of a novel anti-influenza vaccine if its negative effect is eliminated. One such approach is delineated in the PLoS ONE publication. Other possibilities are prevention of M2-induced cell death by introduction of specific mutations into the M2 gene or combining vaccination with drugs targeting M2, for example, amantadine"- said Dr. Alex Shneider.
"Our data does not necessarily indicate that clinical trials of vaccines utilizing genes encoding a full-size influenza M2 protein is unsafe" -- stated Dr. Petr Ilyinskii, Principal Scientist at Cure Lab. "At the same time, it may suggest that the efficacy of M2-containing vaccines is not optimal for clinical trials and medical applications".
Meanwhile, pandemic flu continues to be one of the major threats to society. It remains to be seen whether it will be eliminated through the development of novel vaccines similarly to smallpox and polio or, at least, becomes controllable.
Citation: Ilyinskii PO, Gambaryan AS, Meriin AB, Gabai V, Kartashov A, et al (2008) Inhibition of Influenza M2-Induced Cell Death Alleviates Its Negative Contribution to Vaccination Efficiency. PLoS ONE 3(1): e1417. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001417 www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0001417
KOLKATA, India, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The chief minister of India's West Bengal state, where a bird flu outbreak reportedly is spreading, Friday called the disease situation "very serious."
The description by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee came as more areas in the eastern state reported chickens dying, the Press Trust of India said. The new areas included Burdwan and Bankura districts.
There were reports of crows and owls dying in Kolkata but the chief minister said they were no cause for alarm, PTI said.
But in the avian flu-affected areas, which cover four districts, Bhattacharjee was quoted as saying, "We will have to kill (400,000) birds in the affected districts," where he said the situation is "very serious."
He said the culling process would be completed in a week.
In some villages, government officials said residents had been demanding cash instead of official compensation certificates for participating in the culling.
India has successfully controlled previous outbreaks of bird flu.
Between 27 December and 4 January three swans were found in Abbotsbury Swannery and the vicinity in the Chesil Beach area in Dorset. Preliminary reports suggest that two of the swans were still alive when found but were euthanised due to injuries.
The above comments from the OIE report released today suggest the H5N1 found in England may have literally be found by accident. If the two swans injured by accident had not be found and euthanized, there would have only been one dead swan in the period between December 27 and January 4, and the one dead swan may have not been sent for testing, or missed in the screening.
Although DEFRA asks for reports of dead birds, they frequently discourage reporting of single dead birds. The surveillance in the past has been poor, and the recent detection of H5N1 involved a single whooper swan on the shores of Scotland in 2006, as well as the more recent outbreak in free range turkeys in Suffolk. In 2006 and 2007 there were also H7N3 and H7N2 outbreaks in domestic poultry, but the wild bird sources for the three domestic poultry outbreaks were never identified.
The OIE report suggests that two of the H5N1 infected birds were asymptomatic, and it is not clear that the infection contributed to the accidental injuries. H5N1 is rarely found in live asymptomatic birds, but a recent report suggests that mute swans may be one species that sheds higher levels of the Qinghai strain of H5N1, the strain reported for all outbreaks west of China.
Recently, Germany also reported H5N1 in an asymptomatic grebe, and like both recent H5N1 outbreaks in England, the outbreak involved the Uva Lake variant of the Qinghai strain.
Finding H5N1 in asymptomatic wild birds suggests infections are widespread in Europe, as H5N1 expends its geographical reach under the radar of existing surveillance programs.
We have been informed that, after primary screening, H5N1 virus has been identified.
On Sunday evening, the Bhopal lab sent a message to the state government confirming the presence of the bird flue virus.
The district's chief medical officer of health (CMOH), Sunil Kumar Bhowmick, said: "Preliminary tests have confirmed that this is bird flu. It has already been reported to the district administration. An isolation ward has been opened in Rampurhat hospital.
The above comments indicate H5N1 has been confirmed in West Bengal, India. Although some media reports cite six more days for confirmation, it seems likely that the six days are for a pathogenicity test. However, Qinghai H5N1 generally kills all experimentally infected birds in 1-2 days, so the test is completed quickly.
However, sequencing of the HA cleavage site is sufficient to determine that H5 is high path, as well as determine the strain. The Qinghai strain, and the Uva Lake derivative, has a characteristic cleavage site of GERRRKKR.
The large number of dead birds, coupled with ongoing H5N1 outbreaks in adjacent Bangladesh, indicated H5N1 was the cause of poultry deaths prior to testing.
The continued spread of H5N1 was suggested by the large number of outbreaks in the fall.
ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Flu vaccination rates among young U.S. children and high-risk adults are much lower than expected nationwide, a survey indicates.
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health found 26 states reported moderate flu activity with an estimated 40 million doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine still available,
Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Poll on Children's Health, said a poll released in October reported that 65 percent of parents planned to have their young children -- under age 5 -- vaccinated against the flu during the 2007-08 flu season. But the latest poll, conducted in December, found many parents did not follow through with those plans.
The latest survey found that among households with children ages 5 and younger, there was only a 36 percent vaccination rate by December. Eighteen percent of households polled said they still planned to vaccinate their children this season. Flu vaccination rates among high-risk adults -- adults ages 50 and older and younger adults with chronic diseases -- are well-below national vaccine target levels.
Davis encourages parents to act now to vaccinate themselves and their children against the flu.
ROCHESTER, Minn., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A U.S. review found nasal spray flu vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent flu in healthy, non-pregnant adults and children age 2 and older.
Influenza is a viral infection that affects millions of people each year and potentially can cause serious complications, especially in children and older adults. However, the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine, known as Flu Mist, has not gained widespread acceptance, said Mayo Clinic researchers in Rochester, Minn.
First author Dr. Pritish Tosh said that live attenuated influenza vaccine is a safe, highly immunogenic and effective vaccine that is well tolerated. Only mild and transient upper respiratory infection symptoms occur with the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine versus placebo, even in higher-risk patients with asthma or the early stages of human immunodeficiency virus.
The review, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that in the age groups for which it is indicated, Flu Mist is a safe and effective vaccine to prevent influenza infection.
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. Published: January 19, 2008 India’s third outbreak of avian flu among poultry is the worst it has faced, the World Health Organization said.
The chief minister of West Bengal State, which is trying to cull 400,000 birds, called the virus’s spread “alarming.” Uncooperative villagers, angry at being offered only 75 cents a chicken by the government, have been selling off their flocks and throwing dead birds into waterways, increasing the risk. New outbreaks were also reported this week in Iran and Ukraine.
Recombinomics Commentary 07:44 January 20, 2008 The bird flu panic reached Calcutta’s outskirts today when 15 hens died in Nilgunge at Barrackpore, North 24-Parganas. Samples have been sent for tests. Bolpur and Burdwan towns, too, reported their first chicken deaths.
Samples from South 24-Parganas, Cooch Behar, Purulia and Hooghly have tested negative so far.
The above comments describe additional poultry deaths, including Barrackpore, a northern suburb of Calcutta. The dead poultry southwest of Calcutta has tested negative, but those tests are almost certainly rapid tests, which have a low sensitivity. Poultry in Nadia initially tested negative on the rapid test, but subsequently tested positive on more sensitive tests.
Detected H5N1 continues to spread to the south as two additional districts tested positive, as did additional blocks in southern regions of districts that had previously tested positive. The dead wild birds, including crows, pigeons, hawks, and owls raise the possibility that these resident birds are enhancing the H5N1 spread. Similarly, long range migratory birds are likely asymptomatic carriers of H5N1.
Additionally, more sensitive testing in the regions surrounding Calcutta, as well as resident and long range migratory birds would be useful.
As per the report of HSADL, Bhopal, the sample from district Bankura has also tested positive.
'Samples of dead chickens in Bankura district tested positive Sunday,' West Bengal animal resources minister Anisur Rahaman told Agence France-Presse.
The above comments describe confirmation of H5N1 in Bankura (see satellite map). The exact location(s) in Bankura is not given, but this represents the southern most spread for confirmed H5N1 in West Bengal.
The first quote above is from the Press Information Bureau of the Government of India, but raises questions on the aggressiveness of the testing program. The same report describe the receipt of 79 samples at HSADL, Bhopal from Howrah, South 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Kolkata, Burdwan, Bankura, Nadia, Malda, Pashim Midnapore and Birbhum districts on Saturday. The average of less than eight samples per district is low.
Other media reports described the shipment of 52 samples from multiple species, including wild birds, which may overlap the 79 samples. Thus, the confirmed positives may be significantly lagging the spread of H5N1in West Bengal.
Recombinomics Commentary 17:18 January 20, 2008 Reports of avian deaths have been reported from far-flung areas in Darjeeling and Cooch Behar triggering panic.
Bird flu in Saltora block of Bankura district has been confirmed by the HSADL
The above comments strongly suggest that H5N1 is present throughout West Bengal, India. The Saltora block is on the northwest corner of Burkana, adjacent to Jharkhand, India suggesting H5N1 is spreading into regions of India to the west of West Bengal.
Similarly, the reports of poultry deaths in Darjeeling and Cooch Behar are at the north end of West Bengal, bordering Nepal, China, Bhutan, Assam, and Meghalaya as well as Bihar in India.
Testing of dead poultry is trailing dead poultry reports, and the number of tests per region is minimal.
The widespread reports of poultry deaths coupled with confirmed H5N1 in Bangladesh suggest migratory birds are spreading H5N1 over a wide region of northwestern India and more H5N1 outbreaks are expected.
The contrast couldn't have been more stark. World Health Organisation officials were covered top to toe in what looked like space suits while a ragtag crowd of barely clothed villagers handled poultry with their bare hands, in the wake of an H5N1 avian flu virus epidemic in some districts of West Bengal.
The photographs, more eloquent than words, encapsulate the attitude: Caution and protection for officials, to hell with the rest.
Both WHO and government handouts warn of infection risk for those handling poultry without precautionary gear. Even inhaling the air or drinking water in the area contaminated with bird droppings or dust could lead to infection. Yet no efforts to protect villagers were evident though over 35,000 birds have already been culled over two days.
The slow pace of destroying birds suspected of carrying the deadly virus is also because of reluctance on the part of people to give up their birds without compensation. The delay in paying out compensation to poultry owners is an inexcusable failure of the government.
Babus must set aside normal procedure and treat this as an emergency. Poultry farmers are in a vulnerable position not only because of losing their livelihood abruptly but also because they are exposed to the risk of infection.
Reluctant to part with the birds without getting compensated first, many are resorting to hiding the birds in closed spaces in their homes.
When there was a suspected outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus in Maharashtra and Gujarat in 2006, swift action was taken. More than 5,00,000 birds were culled in a mere 24 hours under supervision of the national disaster management cell. What happened this time in West Bengal?
Epidemics like the avian flu virus don't announce their arrival. Therefore, dealing with its onset is always an emergency. The matter gets more complicated when agencies responsible for disaster management are lax and fail to coordinate preventive measures swiftly.
Worse, the WHO warns that more serious risk factors are associated with this current outbreak than those previously encountered. Also, this time the affected areas are more widespread. It is believed that the current infection has spread to West Bengal from Bangladesh. How much longer before the H5N1 virus extends to other bordering states?