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» 10/26/2005
More birds infected in China but world leaders have few suggestions

There is concern about a human pandemic but little attention was paid by the Ottawa meeting to the key problem. Experts say intervening in Asia – where the virus is endemic – is a must.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The third breeding farm to be infected by bird flu in recent days has been discovered in China. Meanwhile the Ottawa meeting between experts and ministers from around the world has closed without any concrete proposals.

In Canada, after two days of meetings, experts and health ministers from 30 countries approved general statements about the need for more research and collaboration to find a vaccine and protect peoples. They also affirmed the notion that rich states should help the rest. Nations like Indonesia do not have sufficient funds to buy drugs nor to compensate owners of infected poultry farms. "The simple fact is that many impoverished families and farmers may consider it too risky to report sick animals," Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin told the conference. "They are the source of their food as well as their livelihood, so it's often customary to kill animals that get sick, to be eaten or sold." 

Mexico´s Health Minister said recognition of the need to step up production of antiviral drugs meant that countries with technical capacity and low costs should be allowed to produce them. This would be countries like India, Mexico and Brazil. On Monday, Taiwan and India declared their intention of giving the green light for the production of generic drugs identical to the antiviral Tamiflu – considered to be the most effective against the virus but too costly for poor countries – even without the authorisation of the company Roche which has the Tamiflu patent. Roche has shown itself to be in disagreement with such a move and has warned it carries the risk of producing a less-than-perfect drug.

China. After the breeding farms in Mongolia Interior and Anhui, a new epidemic has broken out in Wantang village, Xiangtan county, in the central province of Hunan. This was announced by the Agriculture Minister who considers "the infection to be under control". A total of 545 hens and ducks were killed by the virus and another 2,500 were culled as a precautionary measure. The WHO considers the H5N1 virus "endemic" in China´s breeding farms and in a large part of South-east Asia; it fears it is only a question of time until it becomes contagious among human beings. In Shanghai airports, dogs are being used to sniff out poultry which may be hidden in suitcases.

Indonesia. The government stands accused by Chairul Nidom, the microbiologist who revealed the existence of the infection in the country one day before the government admitted to it. The doctor, a researcher at the Centre for Tropical Diseases at the Airlangga University in Surabaya, has criticised the government for not offering swift and complete information about the disease and of reacting slowly. "If action had been taken promptly, the damage wouldn't have been great and the risks to humans could have been minimized," said Nidom. He also criticised the use of unspecific and dubious vaccines imported from China because of "financial considerations". Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary officer of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has also criticised Jakarta for its inadequate intervention. Experts say mass slaughter of birds in infected areas should take place but the government is limiting itself to restricted interventions because it claims it cannot compensate owners. Large poultry farms are taking adequate measures, said Domenech, but the same could not be said for the "small farms of millions of farmers. There still seems to be a lack of awareness in the rural and suburban communities about the threat the virus poses to humans and animals."

FAO wants to create control centres in the most affected areas and it is considering compensating farmers to make them become "the main allies in the war on bird flu".

Taiwan. Anyone coming from the People´s Republic of Chin is submitted to testing, with a request that they try their body temperature twice a day for 10 days. The government has allocated one billion new dollars (30 million US dollars) to help farmers take measures to safeguard their poultry farms.

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See also
11/04/2005 ASIA
Bird flu pandemic would cost Asia 300 billion dollars
12/18/2008 ASIA
Bird flu hits Asia again, from China and India to Egypt
11/09/2005 CHINA
Prime Minister admits bird flu contagion peril
09/22/2005 INDONESIA
Fears of bird flu outbreak spread in Indonesia after two children die
02/20/2006 INDIA
Bird flu strikes India's Maharashtra State
by Nirmala Carvalho
WHO denies exaggerating bird flu pandemic threat
Avian flu: chicken farms to be inspected in Hong Kong
Bird flu risks stopping Turkey's economic growth
There is no evidence that Tamiflu works against bird flu
Bird flu: more than 1.5 billion dollars needed to stem infection
Avian flu: Between good and bad news
Indonesian 13-year-old girl dies of bird flu
Bird flu risks rise as Chinese New Year approaches
Two people in China sickened by bird flu have died
Bird flu reaches Istanbul
EU says Turkey's bird flu is lethal H5N1 strain
Bird flu at the gates of Europe, second death in Turkey
Bird flu: Hong Kong stops poultry imports from Sichuan
Bird flu and terrorism cast a shadow over pilgrimage to Makkah
Bird flu feared more virulent in Eastern Europe than in Asia
WHO: China may have unidentified bird flu outbreaks
Bird flu: in China WHO says many human cases unreported
Sixth human case of bird flu in China
Five-year old boy is Thailand's 14th bird flu victim
Farmer who blew the whistle on bird flu outbreak is arrested
WHO urges China to share H5N1 virus samples
Bird flu kills again in Indonesia
Bird flu 38 times more infectious than SARS
Bird flu: "Impossible" for China to vaccinate 14 billion birds
New human bird flu case confirmed in Vietnam
Two more suspected avian flu deaths in Indonesia and Vietnam
Asia-Pacific Rim leaders urge common action against avian flu
More outbreaks and human bird flu cases expected in China
China admits to first human case of bird flu
Avian flu: China might not be reporting every outbreak
Bird flu: scientists fear the virus has become "more contagious"
New human bird flu cases suspected in Vietnam and China
Bird flu suspected in new death in Indonesia
Prime Minister admits bird flu contagion peril
A new death from bird flu in Vietnam
China admits to three possible human cases of bird flu
Fifth bird flu victim in Indonesia
Bird flu pandemic would cost Asia 300 billion dollars
Pandemic would be a disaster for Asia's economy
In China newspapers can report on the bird flu only if authorised
Thai woman tests positive for bird flu
Bird flu in China very serious, say official sources
Two more bird flu deaths feared in Vietnam
In China no information about the dangers of the avian flu
Suspected new cases of bird flu in humans in China and Thailand
Pandemic inevitable, say experts from around the world meeting in Canada
Bird flu: China and Thailand want tighter controls on bird farming and human housing
Beijing acknowledges bird flu situation is grave
Bird flu spreads and claims new victim in Thailand
Alarm bells sound in the West but the frontline against the bird flu is in Asia
Asian battleground key to beating bird flu virus
China: an incubator of bird flu
World ill-prepared to face bird flu pandemic
Suspect death in Jakarta fuels global bird flu fears
Bird flu: Ankara tries to allay western fears
Avian flue pandemic could kill up to 300 million people
Indonesia's bird flu toll is rising
Bird Flu: Are there risks, cures?

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pp. 176
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