NEWS SCAN: Avian flu programs in Indonesia and Cambodia, free pandemic supplies, more Ebola testing

Mar 17, 2009

Experts criticize poultry vaccination for H5N1 in Indonesia
Experts quoted in an Indonesian poultry-trade magazine criticized the Indonesian government's policy of vaccinating poultry against H5N1 avian influenza instead of culling, saying that vaccination masks the virus. "Vaccinations press the virus and keep poultry from getting sick, but as a result, the virus is carried everywhere," said Chairul Anwar Nidom, a virologist at Airlangga University in Surabaya, as quoted in Poultry Indonesia. In the same article, James McGrane of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the overall incidence and spread of avian flu in Indonesia are decreasing, though the virus remains entrenched in some areas.

Cambodia kicks off flu-control project
Cambodia today announced that it has launched an $11 million project to control and prepare for avian and seasonal influenza, according to Xinhua, China's state news agency. Hun Sen, Cambodia's prime minister, said the country needs to expand its control efforts beyond extensive culling of sick poultry. The project is funded with International Development Association support, which includes donations from the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
[Mar 17 Xinhua story]

Alabama offers free supplies for pandemic planning
To encourage businesses and organizations to prepare for a flu pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is offering free preparedness supplies to groups that write continuity plans and receive pandemic preparedness education. Those who qualify have their choice of two kinds of free supplies: personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, sterilization products, face shields) or comfort-care items (fever and pain reducers, electrolyte drinks, antidiarrheal medicine, inflatable mattresses, disposable pillows, and blankets).
[Mar 12 ADPH press release]

Experts to test Philippines bats for Ebola Reston virus
Animal health experts will travel to the Philippines in May to test fruit bats to see if they are a reservoir for the Ebola Reston virus, BusinessWorld, a Manila-based newspaper, reported on Mar 14. The virus turned up in pigs for the first time at the end of 2008. Initial tests by the University of the Philippines and the University of Tokyo on fruit bats from Quezon and Aklan provinces were negative for the virus. However, officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the FAO will do further testing.

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