News Scan for Feb 18, 2014

H5N1 outbreak in China
Cameroon churches closed for polio views

H5N1 strikes Chinese farm

More than 300,000 poultry have been culled at a farm in Guizhou province in southern China after about 1,000 birds died and more than 3,600 became sick from H5N1 avian flu, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported today.

Disinfection has now begun at the farm, located near the city of Anshun, after 976 chickens died and 3,629 showed symptoms of avian flu beginning on Feb 13. Officials culled the remaining 323,292 birds to prevent disease spread. An OIE reference lab in Harbin confirmed H5N1 in samples taken from the poultry.

China's most recent previous H5N1 outbreak in poultry began on Jan 7 and involved a farm with 50,000 poultry in Hubei province, farther to the northeast. In that outbreak, the virus killed 3,200 birds and sickened 6,700. The remainder of the flock was likewise culled.
Feb 18 OIE report


Cameroon churches closed over polio beliefs

Cameroon's government is shuttering Pentecostal churches after its health ministry said that some church leaders were partly responsible for recent polio cases, Voice of America (VOA) reported yesterday.

From September through November last year, the country's West Region reported four polio cases 25 years after it eradicated the disease.

The first case was in a 7-year-old unvaccinated girl whose grandfather is a Pentecostal church official who opposes immunization efforts. Dr. Marie Ekobela, coordinator of national immunization in Cameroon's Ministry of Health, said the girl was the source of the outbreak. Ekobela and other public health experts said that hardline Pentecostal dogma against immunization aided the polio resurgence.

The government launched a nationwide door-to-door vaccination campaign in January targeting more than 6.2 million children 10 years old and younger. Two additional campaigns are planned through March, the VOA report said, and vaccine workers are meeting some hesitancy from parents.
Feb 17 VOA report

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