NEWS SCAN: China's avian flu progress, H5N1 in waterfowl, international flu strategy, new norovirus strain

Apr 15, 2010

UN official praises Chinese progress on avian flu
China has made notable progress in planning and implementing its H5N1 avian flu control measures, a senior United Nations (UN) official said yesterday, according to a report today from Xinhua, China's state news agency. David Nabarro, the UN's senior system coordinator for avian and human pandemic influenza, made the comments at a press briefing to unveil a UN draft report on animal and pandemic flu. Nabarro said he met with a Chinese delegation at a meeting in March that was attended by officials from five countries that are most affected by the H5N1 virus, one of which is China. He told reporters that he was impressed by the candor of China's new chief veterinary officer and by reports that health and agriculture officials are encouraged to travel anywhere in the country to assess prevention and outbreak situations.
Apr 15 Xinhua story

H5N1 affects different waterfowl species differently
Highly pathogenic H5N1 infections in migratory waterfowl varies by species, according to a report from researchers at the US Department of Agriculture's Southeastern Poultry Research Laboratory in Veterinary Pathology. The five species included mute swans, greylag geese, ruddy shelducks, Mandarin ducks, and mallard ducks. The birds were intranasaly inoculated with the virus or were exposed through contact. Mute swans had the most severe disease, with 100% mortality and viral detection in various parenchymal cells. All of the ruddy shelducks died, but not as quickly and with more limited organ lesions. Infections were similar in Mandarin ducks, but the disease wasn't as lethal. Greylag geese had neurological symptoms, but the infections weren't deadly. Mallard ducks had asymptomatic infections. The researchers note that the findings are useful, because the pathobiology of H5N1 infections in migratory waterfowl is poorly understood.
Apr 9 Vet Pathol abstract

International group releases draft of animal and pandemic flu report
An international group of agriculture and health ministers and the UN have released a draft report on sustaining momentum against animal and pandemic influenza in advance of a meeting later this month in Hanoi, where they will finalize the report. The gathering will be the sixth such high-level meeting over the past 4 years and will be attended by health officials from more than 100 countries and leaders from a host of international organizations. The report's goal is to provide a framework for sustaining momentum in the fight against animal and pandemic influenza. Some of the topics in the 42-page report include broad-based prevention and control, incentives, measuring progress, and building financial and technical assistance.

New norovirus strain cited in Louisiana cases
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that a new strain of norovirus has caused about half of the country's recent norovirus outbreaks, according to a news release today from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. In Louisiana the strain has sickened dozens and led to the closure of some oyster harvesting grounds. Such norovirus mutations are common, but, because the strain is new, few people are immune to it. The CDC named the strain "GII.4 New Orleans," after the city from which the first confirmed samples came. Symptoms of norovirus infection typically appear within 24 to 48 hours of exposure and usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. It may also cause a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. Exposure may come from contaminated food or surfaces or from exposure to an infected person. The release cautions that "persons who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for at least 2 to 3 days after they recover from their illness."
Apr 15 Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals news release

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