NEWS SCAN: H5N1 death and outbreaks, sharing vaccine technology, smallpox drug, Ebola in pigs

Feb 23, 2009

Vietnamese woman dies of avian flu
A 23-year-old Vietnamese woman died of H5N1 avian influenza on Feb 21, marking Vietnam's first death from the virus this year, according to several media reports. The woman's case, which was first reported Feb 9, was officially Vietnam's first of this year (an 8-year-old girl who recovered from an H5N1 infection fell ill in late December). Another case was reported last week, in a 32-year-old man from Ninh Binh province. The 23-year-old's death raises Vietnam's H5N1 death toll to 53 out of 109 cases.
[Xinhua report on 23-year-old's death]
[Initial WHO report on case]

Three countries report more H5N1 outbreaks
Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt have reported fresh outbreaks of H5N1 influenza in poultry in the past few days. In Vietnam's Ninh Binh province, the virus killed 70 birds on three farms, according to a Xinhua report that was published today and quoted agricultural officials. In Indonesia, the illness killed 52 chickens in the Jembrana district on Bali, the island's second outbreak in 10 days, according to a Feb 20 report by the Jakarta Globe. And Egypt reported the virus in backyard poultry flocks in two governorates, 6th of October and Gharbiya, according to a Feb 19 report from Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR).
[Xinhua report of Vietnam outbreak]

Schering-Plough licenses flu vaccine technology to WHO
Schering-Plough Corp. today announced a license agreement with the WHO with the aim of giving developing countries access to pandemic flu vaccine manufacturing technology. The agreement between Nobilon, the company's human vaccines unit, and the WHO covers live, attenuated vaccines for seasonal and pandemic flu, the company said. Under the pact, WHO has the right to develop, make, and use the vaccines and to sublicense them to manufacturers in developing countries, which can provide the vaccines to the public sector without paying royalties.

Experimental antiviral may protect against smallpox
In a study by private and US Army researchers, the experimental antiviral drug ST246 fully protected nonhuman primates from a normally lethal dose of monkeypox virus, according to a report in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. The researchers used four different doses, starting treatment 3 days after infection. The findings suggest that a daily oral dose of 400 mg for 14 days would effectively prevent or treat smallpox in humans, the report says.
[Abstract]

Philippines plans to kill 6,000 pigs to stop Ebola-Reston
The Filipino government announced plans to slaughter 6,000 pigs on a farm north of Manila to stop the spread of the Ebola-Reston virus, according to a Reuters report published today. Officials have found the virus in 6 of 147 local people tested, but all 6 remained healthy, a government official said. The discovery of the virus in pigs was first reported in December.
[Reuters report]

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