Avarian Flu


Hospitals brought out their SARS suits to deal with a mysterious respiratory outbreak that has killed four patients and put dozens of others into quarantine.

“There is no guarantee that this is not the beginning of the next pandemic,” Dr. Allison McGeer, a microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital said yesterday, adding tests so far have shown the outbreak is not SARS, avian flu or influenza.

“This is a sizable outbreak and it’s somewhat unusual. We are doing everything we can to find the organism. We still have to identify it so this is serious.”

Experts have said it’s only a matter of time before a worldwide outbreak of a potentially deadly flu overtakes Toronto, infecting as many as 900,000 people.

This outbreak, which occurred at the Seven Oaks nursing home at 9 Neilson Rd. in Scarborough, began on Sept. 25 and has killed four and affected 68 other residents and five employees.

Fifteen residents have been taken to Scarborough hospital and Rouge Valley hospital and have been quarantined.

One patient died in hospital. The other three died at Seven Oaks. The patients were in their fifties, seventies and nineties.

“We don’t know what it is. The patients have severe flu-like symptoms and we have them in isolation,” said Katie Cronin-Wood at Rouge Valley hospital, which is caring for 12 patients.

James Sturcke, The Guardian (UK), reports:

A global influenza pandemic is imminent and will kill up to 150 million people, the UN official in charge of coordinating the worldwide response to an outbreak has warned.
David Nabarro, one of the most senior public health experts at the World Health Organisation, said outbreaks of bird flu, which have killed at least 65 people in Asia, could mutate into a form transmittable between people.

“The consequences in terms of human life when the pandemic does start are going to be extraordinary and very damaging,” he said.

BNATALIE OBIKO PEARSON, Associated Press Writer, :

TOKYO Aug 22, 2005 — Authorities have detected another outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm near Tokyo, the Agriculture Ministry said Monday.

Officials have extracted and identified a virus in the H5 family from chickens at a poultry farm in Ibaraki state, the ministry said in a statement.

All birds at the farm will be culled except for those kept in enclosed poultry houses that were unaffected, the ministry said. Kyodo News agency said about 260,000 chickens would be culled.

The strain involved is less virulent that the H5N1 variety that has ravaged poultry and killed more than 60 people in Southeast Asia since 2003.

The BBC reports:

Bird flu has led to a cull of poultry in parts of Siberia

Bird flu has spread west to a sixth region in Russia, triggering the slaughter of hundreds more birds.

The disease has reached the Chelyabinsk region of the Ural mountains which separate Asia from Europe.

Bloomberg reports:

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) — Mongolia said 80 migratory birds were found dead in a lake, killed by an avian influenza virus, the World Organization for Animal Health reported.

Laboratory diagnosis yesterday of the wild ducks, geese and swans that were found on Aug. 2 has confirmed they died from `A’- type bird flu. The Paris-based animal health organization said in an e-mailed statement that it received the information today from Ravdan Sanjaatogtokh, director of the state veterinary services at Mongolia’s ministry of food and agriculture in Ulan Bator.

Photo: A farmer prepares to burn his dead chicken

A farmer prepares to burn his dead chicken, suspectedly of bird flu, at a farm in Makassar, Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, Wednesday, July 27, 2005. There is no evidence linking pigs to the bird flu outbreak and countries should focus their efforts on chickens and other fowl, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rizky Noval via )

Patricia Doyle, PhD () relays Xinhuanet via ProMED-mail, via Rense:

The mysterious death of at least 300 egrets in a Guangzhou forest park sparked fears that the bird flu was to blame, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.

A party secretary of the park’s management firm, the Huangpi company, has dismissed the claims saying he had yet to receive any reports of deaths.

People living near the park in Baiyun District had been finding 20 to 30 dead egrets every day, according to a report by the China News Service, quoting the Guangzhou-based TVS online.

The residents, who said they had discovered the birds in the past few days, estimated the death toll had reached 300.

Some villagers blamed the heat, but others feared it was linked to the bird-flu virus and urged the government to investigate.

The report followed an outbreak of bird flu on an island sanctuary in May 2005 that killed thousands of migratory birds in Qinghai. Some 6000 birds died in the outbreak, officials said.

“What is surprising is that there are people who have started eating egrets, with some being cooked on barbecues,” China News Service said. People had also caught the sick birds to sell at markets, the report said.

The BBC, reports:

Flu viruses can swap many genes rapidly to make new resistant strains, US researchers have found.
Scientists previously believed that gene swapping progressed gradually from season to season.

The National Institutes of Health team found instead, influenza A exchanged several genes at once, causing sudden and major changes to the virus.

The findings in PLOS Biology suggest strains could vary widely each season, making it potentially harder to treat.

MosNews, via Rense.com, reports:

Large quantities of poultry were killed by the bird flu virus type AH5 in the city of Novosibirsk, the chief spokesman for Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said Thursday.

Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD, Recombinomics Commentary, reports:

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari told reporters lab tests from Hong Kong showed the 38-year-old man and his two children, 9 and 1, had the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

She said the tests done in Hong Kong were based on specimens from the father and one of the daughters, but it could be concluded that all three had died of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD, Recombinomics Commentary, via Rense.com,

Patient’s infection source is the chicken which edible includes the virus, the duck, the goose and its the egg product or the above living specimen contact. The patient after the infection internal heat birds and beasts flu, the virus meets the ambush, the usual incubation period is 15 days, crosses the patient after the incubation period to be able to appear the blood to be hot, the hands and feet department massively sheds skin, has the red spot phenomenon, the patient lungs can appear the high fever which continues, causes cough which the patient appears suppresses with difficulty, and has the discontinuity to have a poor appetite, dizziness, the body becomes emaciated and so on the symptom, the partial partners have the flu symptom, the partial crowds have the immunity to this type virus, this virus at present treats unusual complex, belongs to the stubborn disease, at present China’s many places merely list as this disease the simple chronic pneumonia, the chronic bronchitis, virulent flu, Chinese medicine rebirth all kinds.


From Patricia Doyle, PhD, via Rense, reports:

A US-based Chinese-language news website known as Boxun, or “Abundant News”, has riveted the online medical community over the past month with a series of reports from China’s Qinghai province about an alleged bird flu cover-up. One report - said to be leaked by a Chinese official - claimed that 121 people were dead from avian influenza, or H5N1.

Sabin Russell, (SF) Chronicle Medical Writer, reports:

An outbreak of deadly bird flu among wild geese at a remote mountain lake in China is adding to the international concern about a rogue strain of influenza that could evolve into one capable of killing millions of humans.

Teams of American and Chinese researchers published two separate reports Wednesday on the incident at Qinghai Lake, in central China, where 1,500 birds perished in May from a strain the so-called H5N1 flu that has killed millions of domestic ducks and chickens in Vietnam and Thailand, a thousand miles to the south.

Although H5N1 is a bird disease, it has stricken 108 people in Southeast Asia since December 2003, killing half of them. There is no evidence to date that the bird flu virus can be transmitted readily among humans, but epidemiologists fear that it could easily mutate into one that does.


As a 5-year-old on his family’s farm in the Netherlands, Harm Kiezebrink wondered why his father instructed him to drown newly hatched male chicks in a large plastic drum inside the hatchery.

The answer: male chicks are slaughtered because they won’t be able to lay eggs and because they will be too scrawny for meat.

Mr. Kiezebrink grew up to become an expert in this unusual field. Today, his family company sells killed chicks to zoos and falconers. And it has developed technology for efficiently killing birds.

Japan Today reports:

MITO — The Ibaraki prefectural government began culling the entire stock of about 25,000 chickens at a farm in the city of Mitsukaido on Monday, a day after announcing that chickens there had been infected by the H5N2 virus, a weak strain of avian influenza.

Some 60 workers, including employees of the prefectural government’s livestock industry division and a local public health center, were involved in the culling at the Arebamento Kanto farm shortly after the prefecture issued an order to cull all chickens there. They ended the day’s work shortly past 4 p.m. by culling 3,532 chickens. (Kyodo News)

Source: http://www.peacehall.com/news/gb/china/2005/06/200506032331.shtml

After the two photos of 1000’s of dead or dying birds on May 27 on Bird Island on Qinghai Lake was published, the associated reporters were arrested. A third photo was added to the June 3rd report.

This photo appears to be more of the same, except more birds are standing and it appears to have been taken mid-day because the shadows of the standing birds are very short. The two earlier shots appeared to have been near sunrise or sunset because the shadows of the birds were long.

The pictures of the birds are in marked contrast to Bird Island tourist pictures showing many birds walking around and sitting birds with heads much higher in the air.

The recent photos look much like the suffocating bar headed goose in the May 5 official media report describing 178 bar headed geese who had died but were reported to have not died from bird flu.

The arrest of reporters in association with these pictures is alarming and will fuel speculation on the scope of the H5N1 bird flu outbreak and its spread to humans and other mammals.

Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, The Independent (UK), reports:

International experts fear that bird flu is mutating into a strain that will cause a worldwide pandemic, killing many millions of people after the mass deaths of wild birds in China.

Unconfirmed reports say that more than 100 people have also died, suggesting that the virus may have evolved to pass from person to person, breaking the final barrier preventing a worldwide catastrophe.

The Chinese government, while denying the reports of human deaths, has adopted emergency measures in Xinjiang, its remote north-western province, and has sealed off affected areas with roadblocks and closed all nature reserves.

DONALD G. McNEIL Jr., The New York Times, reports:

Two reported new outbreaks of avian flu among birds in western China have raised fears that the virus is being spread widely by migrating birds and mutating rapidly.

The regional director for the World Health Organization, Dr. Shigeru Omi, told reporters in Beijing yesterday that the two recent outbreaks in remote areas in which hundreds of birds died were worrisome because they involved migratory waterfowl and domestic geese, birds that until now had been fairly resistant to the disease.

More than 13,000 geese were destroyed in Tacheng, in the Xinjiang autonomous region, after about 500 died of H5N1 avian flu, China’s Agriculture Ministry reported.

Poultry markets were closed and roadblocks set up in the area, the official Xinhua news agency said.

In late May, the government reported that hundreds of bar-headed geese, gulls, ducks and cormorants had been found dead on an island in a salt lake in the Qinghai region that lies on an important migratory route.

Scott Van Voorhis, Boston Herald, reports:

The mystery killer that has dropped greyhounds at a Revere racetrack is part of the deadly canine flu ripping through racetracks across the country, test results reveal.

State regulators initially downplayed as “kennel cough'’ the malady that eventually killed 18 greyhounds at Revere’s Wonderland track.

But test results just back from a University of Florida lab prove what activists argued from the start: that the mystery plague is canine influenza - the same killer canine flu that has infected an estimated 10,000 dogs across the country.

Charles Arthur, The Register - UK, reports:

You may think this is overblown. But discussion of the possibility of a flu pandemic has fallen out of the news. And as the security consultant Bruce Schneier says: “One of the things I routinely tell people is that if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. By definition, ‘news’ means that it hardly ever happens. If a risk is in the news, then it’s probably not worth worrying about. When something is no longer reported - automobile deaths, domestic violence - when it’s so common that it’s not news, then you should start worrying.”

The risks posed by an outbreak of flu passed from chickens in the Far East, in coutries such as Vietnam and Thailand, burst into the news in February. But now they’ve passed out of the news. Since then we’ve had more important things, like the Crazy Frog ringtone, to concern us.

Time to worry. And the scientists are. In fact, they’re edgier than I’ve seen them since the BSE outbreak was in its earliest days and people were wondering if it might pass to humans. Quite a few scientists stopped eating beef at that point. Oh, you didn’t know?


The Associated Press, via TBO.com, via Rense.com reports:

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Authorities ordered the slaughter of 17,000 chickens after 6,000 chickens died from a mysterious respiratory illness in a central western Brazilian state, officials said.

Sanitary authorities do not know what kind of disease the chickens had, but expect to identify it by the end of this week, Gladys Raquel, an animal sanitation manger with the state government of Mato Grosso do Sul state, said Tuesday in a statement.

David Cyranoski, Nature, in Tokyo reports:

Concerns over the presence of a dangerous strain of avian flu virus in Indonesia’s pigs are growing, as government tests confirm the existence of infection. In some areas, the H5N1 virus could be infecting up to half of the pig population, without causing any signs of disease.

The initial discovery was made earlier this year by an independent researcher working outside national and international surveillance systems. Chairul Nidom, a virologist at Airlangga University’s tropical-disease centre in Surabaya, Java, found the H5N1 virus in five of ten pigs tested from Banten in western Java.

The presence of the virus in pigs is a particular worry because the animals can harbour both bird and human flu viruses, and act as a ‘mixing vessel’ for the emergence of a strain of avian flu that can easily infect humans. There are now signs that the virus could be spreading unchecked through the pig population.

KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times, reports:

Chickens in North Korea are suffering from a rare outbreak of H7 avian influenza, and not the more lethal H5N1 strain that has infected poultry across Southeast Asia, a United Nations official said. The H7 virus showed a greater capacity for human-to-human transmission during an outbreak in 2003 in the Netherlands but tended to produce less serious illness, often limited to conjunctivitis. The presence of the disease in northeast Asia is surprising, the official said, adding that no human cases had been found in North Korea. Keith Bradsher (NYT)