NEWS SCAN: Avian flu, tainted Baxter flu materials, anthrax attack findings , drug-resistant malaria, homeland security, E coli in well water

Feb 26, 2009

Avian flu detected in Vietnam, England
The H5N1 virus struck poultry in another Vietnamese province, Dien Bien in the northern part of the country, raising the number of affected provinces to 11, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. Authorities culled about 1,460 ducks and destroyed more than 1,000 eggs to stop the spread of the virus. Elsewhere, British officials have detected avian influenza at two small Bernard Matthews turkey-breeding farms in England, but have so far ruled out H5 and H7 strains, the United Kingdom's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said today
[Feb 26 Xinhua story]
[Feb 26 DEFRA press release]

Czech lab incident update
New details about H5N1-contaminated virus samples that caused a scare at a Czech Republic lab emerged today in a report from the Canadian Press (CP). The tainted Baxter International product was an "experimental virus material" that was supposed to contain the H3N2 virus. The product was distributed to an Austrian company to subcontractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany. Officials continue to investigate.
[Feb 26 CP story]

Scientists share anthrax investigation findings
The chemical components of the Bacillus anthracis spores sent in letters in the 2001 bioterrorism incidents don't match the bacteria in a flask linked to Bruce Ivins, according to experts who presented their findings at an American Society for Microbiology biodefense meeting on Feb 24, Nature News reported yesterday. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Jason Bannan, however, said that spores from the flask could have been removed and grown under different conditions that exposed them to different chemicals. The FBI has alleged that Ivins, who committed suicide, mailed letters in 2001 that contained the deadly pathogen.
[Feb 25 Nature News story]

WHO says drug resistance could stonewall malaria control
Parasite resistance to artemisinin detected at the Thailand-Cambodian border could undermine global efforts to control malaria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement yesterday. The parasite can adapt more easily to monotherapies, so health officials have instead supported treating uncomplicated infections with a combination therapy containing artemisinin. The WHO said it has received a $22.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help contain the spread of the resistant parasites.
[Feb 25 WHO statement]

White House orders homeland security review
The Obama administration issued its first presidential study directive (PSD) in Feb 23 ordering an interagency team to review how the White House coordinates its homeland security and counterterrorism capacities, Federal News Radio (FNR) reported yesterday. The White House has replaced homeland security directives with PSDs, FNR reported.
[Feb 25 FNR story]

E coli turns up in wells near outbreak site
Seventeen of 74 private wells in Locust Grove, Okla., tested positive for Escherichia coli, a pathogen that caused an outbreak linked to a local restaurant, the Tulsa World reported yesterday. The state's attorney general has said poultry litter from area farms may have contaminated the restaurant's water supply, which was found to contain poultry DNA earlier this month.
[Feb 25 Tulsa World story]

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