FLU NEWS SCAN: WHO H5N1 attendees, avian flu poultry outbreaks, Vietnam's H5N1 vaccine

Feb 16, 2012

WHO details H5N1 meeting participants
The World Health Organization (WHO) today released a list of 22 experts participating in a meeting today and tomorrow on H5N1 avian influenza research issues. The meeting will focus on whether two controversial studies on transmissible H5N1 viruses should be published, and if so, in a full or redacted format, as well as mechanisms for sharing details with other scientists, according to previous reports. The list includes the two researchers who led the studies, Ron Fouchier, PhD, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD. Participants from the United States include Anthony Fauci, MD, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH, which funded the two studies), Nancy Cox, PhD, director of the WHO influenza collaborating center at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Paul Keim, PhD, acting chair of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB), which was asked by the NIH to review dual-use issues surrounding the studies and recommended that they be published without key details. The group also includes editors from Nature and Science, the two journals that are slated to publish the studies, health officials from several countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, and China, representatives from WHO influenza collaborating centers, and Jerome Singh, PhD, MHSc, head of ethics and law at Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in South Africa.
Feb 16 WHO statement
Feb 10 CIDRAP News Scan "WHO meeting on H5N1 studies to have narrow focus"

Nepal, Bhutan report H5N1 poultry outbreaks
Animal health authorities in Nepal and Bhutan reported fresh outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza in poultry, according to official and media reports. In Nepal, the virus struck four more sites, including a commercial farm and two villages in the Jhapa district of Mechi zone and a commercial farm in the Sunsari district of Koshi zone, according to a report yesterday to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Both zones are located in eastern Nepal. The four outbreaks killed 6,094 birds, and 6,120 more were culled to control the spread of the virus. The outbreak report is Nepal's second of the year.
In Bhutan, officials reported an H5N1 outbreak that killed 87 backyard birds near the southern border town of Phuntsholing, according to a report today from Keunsel Online, Bhutan's English national newspaper. Authorities killed the remaining 27 birds and burned three coops. Earlier this year the virus struck poultry in Bhutan's Thimphu and Chukha districts, according to earlier reports.
Official: Vietnam may produce H5N1 vaccine in 2013
Vietnam may start manufacturing H5N1 avian flu vaccine for people next year, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology's director Director Nguyen Tran Hien told Viet Nam News (VNN). The agency is currently producing an experimental version for safety and immunogenicity testing and has been researching the candidate vaccine since 2005, today's report said. "These tests will facilitate the production and use of the vaccine for humans," Hien said, adding that clinical trials could begin at the end of this year. Results would then be submitted to Vietnam's Ministry of Health. The country has confirmed two H5N1 cases this year, both of them fatal, and is one of only five countries to report human cases in 2012.
Feb 16 VNN report

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