NEWS SCAN: H5N1 in Egyptian poultry, Russia vaccinates birds, Jakarta's poultry shelters, UK flu-shot policy, TB-infected doctor

Apr 13, 2009

Egypt reports two more H5N1 outbreaks
Animal health officials in Egypt recently reported two new H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in backyard poultry, according to the Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR). The virus infected 12 chickens in a village in Suez governorate, and the vaccination status of the birds was not known. Meanwhile, the virus hit 34 unvaccinated poultry of various kinds in a village in Beni Suef governorate. The outbreak was detected through active surveillance.

Russia targets poultry vaccination to migration hotspot
Russia's agricultural oversight agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, today announced the start of a major push to vaccinate backyard poultry in the Altai region against the H5N1 avian influenza virus, Itar-Tass, Russia's news agency, reported. Officials said the Altai region is at risk for H5N1 outbreaks because it is on a route for migrating birds from Asia, where the H5N1 virus is more prevalent.

Jakarta to consolidate backyard poultry
In an effort to control the spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus, Indonesia's agriculture ministry recently announced plans to corral all poultry in residential Jakarta neighborhoods into four centrally located poultry shelters, according to a report in the April issue of Poultry Indonesia magazine. The city government said it will build the four structures and that all chickens in the city must be confined to the areas by Apr 24, 2010. Construction on one shelter, designed to hold 1 million birds, is nearly complete, but work hasn't begun on the other three.

Report says UK won't urge flu shots for children
The United Kingdom's expert panel on immunization has decided not to recommend influenza vaccination for children, according to Pulse, a weekly newsletter for British physicians. The UK Department of Health had asked its medical advisers to review the issue after a modeling study by Health Protection Agency researchers predicted that vaccinating children could reduce flu in the general population by up to 70%, the report said. But the minutes of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation make clear that flu shots would not be recommended for children, according to Pulse. Professor Andy Hall, chair of the committee, said there was not enough evidence that current flu vaccines are effective in young children. The British policy contrasts with that of the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children aged 6 months to 18 years receive annual flu immunizations.

Chicago health officials track contacts of TB-infected doctor
A 26-year-old pediatric resident working in Chicago was diagnosed as having tuberculosis (TB) on Apr 7 and might have exposed patients at three area hospitals to the disease, the Chicago Tribune reported on Apr 11. None of the woman's patients or coworkers have so far been diagnosed with TB. Though the three hospitals have said the risk to patients is "minimal," they are contacting patients who were exposed to the resident. Northwestern Memorial Hospital said in an Apr 10 press release that at least 17 patients—some of them women who delivered babies—were exposed to the woman at its Prentice Women's Hospital between Nov 3 and 19, 2008, and that another 100 may have received care from her. Evanston Hospital said today that a limited number of patients and staff in the facility's special infant care unit were potentially exposed to the doctor between Feb 11 and Mar 12. She most recently worked at Children's Memorial Hospital, where hospital officials said she had contact with at least 150 children and more than 300 workers, the Tribune reported. Susan Gerber, MD, chief medical officer of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the woman's infection was "susceptible and sensitive" to treatment and that health officials are investigating a trip she made as a medical student in late 2007 to an HIV clinic in Botswana.


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