NEWS SCAN: H5N1 outbreak in wild birds in China, Hamburg confirmed as FDA head

May 19, 2009

China reports H5N1 outbreaks in Qinghai province
Animal health officials in China on May 17 reported an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in wild birds in Qinghai province in the central part of the country, according to a report submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). According to the report, 121 birds have been found dead near Genggahu Lake since May 8. The source of the outbreak has not been determined. Though no poultry outbreaks have been reported, officials are culling nearby poultry, disinfecting farms, and restricting movement into the area, Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported today. In 2005, researchers reported that a large H5N1 outbreak among waterfowl that occurred that year in the province's Qinghai Lake—a wildlife refuge that hosts many migratory waterfowl species—could launch the spread of the disease throughout and beyond Asia.
[May 17 OIE report]
[May 19 Xinhua story]

Senate confirms Hamburg as FDA chief
The US Senate yesterday unanimously confirmed Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After the confirmation, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in a statement congratulated the new FDA chief. "Dr. Hamburg is an inspiring public health leader with broad experience in infectious disease, bioterrorism, and health policy," said Sebelius. "Her expertise and judgment will serve FDA well." President Barack Obama nominated Hamburg as FDA commissioner on Mar 14. She is a biodefense expert and former New York City health commissioner. Obama's choice of Hamburg drew praise from several consumer and public health advocacy groups.
[May 18 HHS statement]

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