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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Back - like a B horror movie, Avian influenza keeps coming back

From The Extinction Protocol
Hong Kong culls chickens at market, bans trade, as H5N1 found

December 21, 2011 – HONG KONG – Workers began culling 17,000 chickens at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong on Wednesday after a dead chicken there tested positive for the deadlyH5N1 avian virus, a government spokesman said. The Hong Kong government also suspended imports of live chickens from mainland China and the trading of live chickens for 21 days in a bid to prevent any spread of the disease, which is normally found in birds but can jump to humans. “We do not know if the dead chicken was imported from China or if it’s a local chicken,” the government spokesman said, adding that the market would be emptied of birds and thoroughly disinfected. People do not have immunity to the H5N1 virus and researchers worry it could mutate in humans into a form that would spread around the world and kill millions of people. The virus passes easily among birds and has becomes active in various parts of the world, but especially in east Asia, over recent years, especially in the cooler months of the year. The current strain of H5N1 is highly pathogenic, kills most species of birds and up to 60 percent of the people it infects. The last two large poultry culling exercises in Hong Kong took place in June 2008, after checks uncovered H5N1 in chicken fecal samples, and in December 2008 when the virus killed scores of chickens at a chicken farm. In 1997, six people died from the H5N1 virus in the territory and 1.3 million chickens were culled. Hong Kong’s last recorded human case of H5N1 was in November 2010 — the 59-year-old woman, who came down with the illness after returning from a trip to mainland China, survived. Since making its first laboratory-confirmed appearance in Hong Kong in 1997, it is now endemic in many places in Asia and also Egypt. Since 2003, it has infected 573 people around the world, killing 336. The virus also kills migratory birds but species that manage to survive can carry and disperse the virus to new, uninfected locations. The virus can kill birds and humans in a matter of days but can survive far longer durations in a moist, cool environment. The ban on trading of live chickens in Hong Kong for 21 days is to ensure that the virus runs through its full lifecycle. –Yahoo News 
Biological weapon: The virologist who created a potentially dangerous, mutant strain of the deadly bird flu virus has agreed to omit methodology details from his published reports on the new strain. The decision came after the U.S. government warned Tuesday that published details of the experiment could be used to create a biological warfare weapon. Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, said he created the contagious form of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain “easily” by mutating a few genes within the strain. Officials feared the virus could kill millions if it were unleashed. The study results were to be published in the U.S. journal Science, but in an unprecedented move, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, an independent committee that advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies, recommended against full publication after it determined the risks outweighed the benefit. “Due to the importance of the findings to the public health and research communities, the NSABB recommended that the general conclusions highlighting the novel outcome be published, but that the manuscripts not include the methodological and other details that could enable replication of the experiments by those who would seek to do harm,” the committee said in a statement Tuesday. The researcher has doubts about the U.S. recommendation but will observe it. -ABC   excerpt

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