China, Russia report more high-path H5 outbreaks
China today reported another highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza outbreak in poultry, this time in backyard ducks in Hubei province, officials said in a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak began on Mar 3, and, of 767 susceptible birds, the virus sickened 134 and killed 86. Authorities culled the surviving ducks.
China has reported several H5N6 outbreaks in poultry since 2014, as well as 17 illnesses in humans, 6 of them fatal.
In other avian flu developments, Russia reported two more H5N8 outbreaks in backyard poultry in two cities in Moscow oblast in the western part of the country, according to a report today to the OIE. The events began on Mar 4 and Mar 10, killing 18 of 28 susceptible birds. Authorities destroyed the remaining ones and have ordered controls on poultry movement and have increased screening.
Legislators warn of cuts to pandemic flu readiness in letter to HHS's Price
Two US senators and three members of Congress penned a letter this week to Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), voicing their concern over President Trump's proposed cuts to government agencies whose work enables pandemic preparedness.
The legislators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said that recent reports of human cases of avian influenza in China have raised the threat of a global pandemic, and that since taking office, President Trump has issued at least seven threats of budget cuts to HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main agencies that would handle a flu pandemic.
The president has said he would propose a $54 billion budget cut on non-defense discretionary spending, which could include CDC and HHS. Moreover, in repealing the Affordable Care Act, the president proposes to cut the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) which makes up more than 12 % of the CDC's total budget.
In addition to budget cuts, the president has left several key public health administration roles empty, including a CDC director.
The letter concludes with several questions to Secretary Price about the president's understanding of public health preparedness, beliefs concerning vaccines, and executive orders. The legislators request a written response to their questions by Mar 27.
Mar 13 letter