Avian flu surveillance, prevention efforts expand in Asia

Feb 10, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Thai officials this week stepped up surveillance and prevention efforts against avian influenza, mirroring events taking place across Southeast Asia.

Thai authorities announced they had 100,000 doses of avian flu vaccine in event of a serious poultry outbreak in Thailand, the Thai News Agency reported today. More laboratories also have been opened in the country to speed testing.

Six Thai provinces have been under close scrutiny this year owing to avian flu outbreaks among chickens, the Bangkok Post reported: Phichit, Suphan Buri, Rayong, Nakhon Pathom, Phetchabun, and Phitsanulok. Thousands of volunteers have gone door to door in villages to warn people about the threat of another outbreak and to teach them to protect themselves with rubber gloves and masks before handling poultry.

Across the border in Cambodia, health officers are conducting similar education and surveillance activities, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Feb 9.

A radio station in southwest Cambodia, the region that includes the home of Cambodia's first human victim of H5N1, is broadcasting information on precautions every hour, the AP reported. A 25-year-old woman from Kampot died from H5N1 on Jan 30 in a hospital in Vietnam. Investigations into her death continue.

In China, authorities announced they had developed two new poultry vaccines for H5N1 flu. Developers touted the vaccine as a breakthrough in an AsiaNews story on Feb. 8. However, a source close to the institute where the new vaccines were developed told AsiaNews that the vaccines are not different from existing products.

Meanwhile, A Feb 8 story on the Science and Development Network Web site describes the new vaccines as longer-lasting and safe. Deng Guohua, one of the researchers, said one of the vaccines combines fowl-pox and H5N1 viruses, and called it safe for poultry and mammals.

China has not reported any poultry outbreaks of H5N1 to the World Organization for Animal Health since June 2004.

See also:

Feb 2 CIDRAP News story on Cambodian case
www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/avianflu/news/feb0205cambodian.html

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