Bad News - Bird Flu Strains
Might Combine

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

This is not good news. H7 is the strain that was identified in North Korea. Then, we also have the WSN/33 genes in pigs in S. Korea. Talke H5, H7 and WSN/33 and we might have pandemic.
Authorities are also wondering how the H7 arrived in N. Korea as there has not been an outbreak of H7 in east Asia before.
WHO Expert - Bird Flu Strians Could Combine
By Alisa Tang
Associated Press
BANGKOK, Thailand - Two strains of bird flu in Asia may combine to create a highly lethal and easily transmissible virus, a U.N. health official warned Wednesday, amid widespread fears that the disease could cause the next human pandemic.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday confirmed that birds in North Korea were infected with the H7 bird flu strain that sickened nearly 90 people and killed one in the Netherlands two years ago. It is distinct from the H5N1 strain that has decimated poultry populations across Asia since December 2003 and killed at least 50 people in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
Both strains can jump from birds to humans but only the H7 virus has been shown to spread from person to person, raising concern that it could unite with the deadlier H5N1 strain and cause a global pandemic.
"The fact that two viruses - one with a proven track record of transmitting easily into people and another with a mortality rate of between 50 and 80 percent - are circulating in Asia at the same time is something to keep a very close eye on," William L. Aldis, the World Health Organization representative in Thailand, told The Associated Press.
If H7 and H5N1 came into contact and exchanged genetic material, it could create an "organism with H5 lethality and H7 transmissibility," said Aldis.
H7 caused eye inflammation and flu-like symptoms in dozens of people in the Netherlands, but there have been no reports of human infections of any strain of bird flu in secretive North Korea. Health workers have killed some 219,000 birds on three farms near the capital, Pyongyang.
Governments of 10 Asian countries have slaughtered millions of fowl to arrest the spread of H5N1.
Based on the number of humans infected with H7 in the Netherlands, "one would have to assume that this H7 is not very lethal ... but it's highly transmissible," Aldis said.
Henry L Niman, PhD
Founder, President
Recombinomics, Inc
North Korean Bird Flu Outbreak Not The Feared Strain news service
By Debora MacKenzie
An outbreak of bird flu on three large poultry farms in North Korea has been tentatively identified as the H7 strain of the virus - not the H5N1 strain that has been killing people and poultry across east Asia for more than a year. But UN officials have revealed to New Scientist that the evidence for this is only indirect.
South Korea reported in March that its secretive northern neighbour had suffered bird flu outbreaks near the capital, Pyongyang, since early February 2005. Concern immediately flared that it was H5N1, which has killed at least 49 people across East Asia to date.
North Korea is extremely poor, with persistent food shortages and much of the population prone to disease. It is also slow to accept visits or help from outsiders, a combination that could allow an H5N1 outbreak to run out of control, possibly triggering a human pandemic.
North Korean authorities finally confirmed they had bird flu outbreaks last week, saying more than 200,000 birds had been destroyed on three large farms near Pyongyang. Hans Wagner of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) announced on Tuesday - after a week-long visit to the country - that the virus responsible is the H7 strain of avian influenza.
New Flu To Asia
But Juan Lubroth, head of infectious diseases at the FAO, told New Scientist that the evidence is indirect. "The North Koreans made a vaccine using virus from the sick chickens, and vaccinated chickens in the region around the outbreak," he says. "Those chickens show a high level of antibodies to H7."
So, it appears the outbreak was H7 flu. But this is a mystery, as an outbreak of H7 has never been recorded in east Asia before. "The North Koreans say they have destroyed all the sick chickens, and the outbreak is now over," says Lubroth. "That's good for the Koreans. But we'd like a sample of tissue from the infected birds so we can isolate the virus."
A genetic sequence might help trace the strain,s origins, and whether it has mixed with other Asian strains. H7 flu caused outbreaks in poultry in 2004 in the US, Canada, Pakistan and the Netherlands, where it also infected 245 Dutch chicken workers and their contacts. Most had no symptoms, but one vet died.
Pandemic Protection
Meanwhile, 11 new human cases of H5N1 have been confirmed in Vietnam in the past month, bringing the total number since the current outbreak began in December 2004 to 33, of whom 15 have so far died. A second case in Cambodia, who died, was also confirmed last week.
Klaus Stõhr, head of flu at the World Health Organization in Geneva, is calling for countries to set aside 5% of what they normally spend on flu vaccination for research into vaccines against a flu pandemic.
But only rich countries spend much on normal flu vaccination, and only about a quarter of the world,s vaccine was used outside the US, Canada, Western Europe, Japan and Australia in 2003, according to the WHO.
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health



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