The H5N1 bird flu virus has struck again in western Europe, perhaps newly introduced via wild birds. Labs in Germany and the UK say the viruses that killed swans in two outbreaks in the German states of Bavaria and Saxony last month were "closely related, but distinguishable". This means they did not pass directly between the birds, but had been circulating - perhaps widely. The labs say the strains are very close to the H5N1 found in 2006 in wild water birds in Italy, Siberia and Mongolia, and poultry in Afghanistan and Siberia. The H5N1 found on Czech turkey farms, also in June, is similar to the Bavarian virus too, and slightly different from any previously found in the European Union, the UK's Veterinary Laboratories Agency reports. The VLA had warned that novel H5N1 strains could emerge as wild birds congregate for the summer moult.
Bird Flu: A quick case history. In 1997. Since 2004 it has ripped through poultry and wild bird populations across Eurasia, and had a 53% mortality rate in the first 147 people it is known to have infected. Health authorities fear this strain, or its descendent, could cause a lethal new flu pandemic in people with the potential to kill billions.
Flu has been a regular scourge of humanity for thousands of years. Flu viruses each possess a mere 10 genes encoded in RNA. All of the 16 known genetic subgroups originate in water birds, and especially in ducks. The virus is well adapted to their immune systems, and does not usually make them sick. This leaves the animals free to move around and spread the virus - just what it needs to persist. But sometimes a bird flu virus jumps to an animal whose immune system it is not adapted to. In chickens - originally a forest bird and not a natural host - it causes a moderate disease but can readily mutate to a more severe, highly pathogenic strain. Just such a strain of H5N1 flu, named after its surface proteins, began rampaging through large chicken farms in east Asia sometime before 2003. (Source).
BALI has recorded its first human death from bird flu and authorities have begun culling all birds in the area in a bid to contain a possible outbreak. It is also suspected that the dead woman's daughter died from the H5N1 avian flu virus earlier this month – but she was buried before the possibility was realised.
Yesterday agriculture authorities destroyed 400 birds in a 1km radius of the village of Tukadaya in Jembrana regency, in northwestern Bali, where the victims lived. The National Bird Flu Control Committee confirmed that Ni Luh Putu Sri Windani, 29, who died in Bali's Sanglah hospital in Denpasar late on Sunday, had tested positive to bird flu. She was taken to the hospital three days earlier with pneumonia-like symptoms.
Her daughter Dian, 5, had died on August 3 at a local hospital with similar symptoms. Chickens belonging to a neighbour of the dead woman had previously died, and have tested positive to the virus as well. A two-year-old child from the same village is currently under observation in Sanglah Hospital with similar symptoms, but doctors said late yesterday that her condition was improving. Her grandmother Wayan Norni said chickens belonging to her family had previously died, and the dead woman lived about 200m away in the same village.
Authorities are very keen to ensure that Bali does not fall victim to a mass bird flu outbreak – which would be another blow to the island's tourist industry, hit by a series of terrorist bombings from which it has just begun to recover.
The affected village is, however, about three hours' drive from the main tourist centre of Kuta.
Indonesia has now confirmed 82 bird flu deaths from 103 cases since July 2005.
Dewi Made Oka, the head of Bali's Health Department, said yesterday that a team of officials had gone to the village to cull birds, spray disinfectant and ensure that no more birds were bought into the area.
He said there were no more reports so far of villagers with symptoms. (Source)
Why am I posting an article on Bird flu? H5N1 which is the correct name for what we know as bird flu is in Europe, the picture above came from a laboratory in Germany and is the latest place the H5N1 strain is found in birds - the strains are related, but not the same as, those from previous European outbreaks. If you look back at a post called "Foot and Mouth flood theory" I mention that a Professor Oxford talks about Foot and mouth, the Ebola virus and the H5N1 virus in reference to Pirbright and Merial Animal research labs. With the bird flu already in Germany and the history of Pirbright I think it may be just a matter of time before the H5N1 virus lives upto its name and hits the UK, then what will the authorities do with a truly airboird virus in more than one way, a virus which by the looks of it can mutate to be accepted into a variety of hosts. There are those who think that there is more to the bird flu pandemic that meets the eye, the ease that it seems to move from one host to another or from one country to another, at the moment I can not comment on this as I have not looked that far into it "yet".
Anyway Boys, Girls and those of you who are of a mixed or no gender, thats realy about it for now, I have just had Duck and beanshoots for my tea so I am going to settle down, watch an alien conspiracy movie on the Sci Fi channel and have a beer.