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article imageBird flu outbreak reported in five countries

By Stephanie Dearing     Mar 14, 2010 in World
Reports are coming from Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam of bird flu outbreaks resulting in the deaths of thousands of birds thus far. Egypt is reporting more human cases of illness caused by the disease.
There is confusion in Kathmandu, Nepal where hundreds of birds are reportedly becoming ill quickly and dying fast. Health authorities have been experiencing difficulty getting the proper permission to take samples to confirm the deaths are being caused by H5N1, and thus a bird cull has not occurred yet, although it is anticipated that this will change shortly. One adult has reportedly contracted the virus.
In Bangladesh, the bird cull is well under way, with nearly 120,000 birds killed on one farm alone. After 400 chickens died suddenly on Saturday, a test confirmed bird flu, and most of Kazi Farm's birds were killed. Thousands of eggs were destroyed as well. So far there have been no reports of human contraction of the virus, and the virus has been found only on the one farm. The loss for the farm is approximately $6 million. It is not known if the virus has spread to other farming operations.
H5N1 has also been determined to be the cause of illness in a woman in Hanoi, Vietnam. An outbreak of the disease had occurred in a Vietnamese village in late February. Officials reported in early March the outbreak had been contained after thousands of birds were culled.
The deaths of thousands of chickens in Jambi, Indonesia in the past month have been confirmed as caused by the Avian flu. Officials in Jakarta are relocating illegal poultry slaughter houses in an attempt to curb the spread of H5N1. Backyard farming has also been banned. The death of one person in February was attributed to the bird flu in Jakarta, but the country has not released information on outbreaks of the disease.
Egypt is reporting more cases of human illness caused by bird flu, although it is not known how many birds have been affected.
While perfectly capable of travelling around the world, the virus has been most prevalent in China, Indonesia, Egypt and Vietnam, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The bird flu is feared because while the spread to humans has been limited, about one-half of all people infected will die from the virus. Seven deaths have been attributed to the virus this year, with a total of 289 deaths since 2003.
The WHO has long promoted Avian Flu as the possible source of a pandemic with the killing proportions of the influenza pandemics seen in the early 1900's, although the pandemic has not materialized.
While no one can safely predict how the H5N1 virus will mutate, there are fears that it will mutate into a virulently deadly form for humans in the near future. Vietnamese scientists report "The swine flu A/H5N1 virus has mutated into seven antigen groups since it appeared in the country."
A recent collaborative research project on the H5N1 virus has demonstrated the potential for the bird flu to become the source of mass human deaths remains viable.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced "substantial progress has been made in the preparedness and response mechanisms" for battling H5N1 avian influenza around the world." The FAO attributes those improvements to "... reductions in the numbers of outbreaks of HPAI in poultry, and the number of human cases occurring."
In 2005, the World Bank pegged the cost of a bird flu pandemic of $800 billion.
More about H5N1, Bird flu, Bagladesh, Kathmandu, Jimba indonesia
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