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    » 11/14/2005, 00.00

    ASIA

    Bird flu: scientists fear the virus has become "more contagious"



    A viral form which attacks mammals with more ease has been identified in Vietnam. New cases of human infection have been in Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. There were another two deaths in Indonesia and one in Vietnam.

    Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – New cases of infection have been confirmed in Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Vietnamese researchers warn that the virus has mutated into a strain more perilous to man.

    Vietnam. Two new cases of infection were confirmed today. One was a student taken to hospital after eating a hen's egg and the other was a 78-year-old woman who died on Friday 11 November from pneumonia in the central province of Quang Binh. The Agriculture Minister said the virus has now spread to 10 of the 64 provinces: last weekend more than 1000 geese and hens died in the northern port of Haiphong. The culling of all birds in Ninh Binh and the northern province of Hung Yen was ordered. The Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city authorities have said it is forbidden to have live poultry farms in the cities. Birds found will be culled.

    Cao Bao Van, head of the Molecule Biology Department, said yesterday the H5N1 virus found in a patient, who later died, had mutated in a form "which allows it to reproduce in the tissue of mammals and become very contagious". This virus appears immune also to Tamiflu.

    China. Roy Wadia, China spokesman for the World Health Organisation, confirmed that they are waiting for the outcome of testing on a peasant, a woman, from Liaoning, feared infected. There has been a new outbreak of infection in the central province of Hubei, with 2,500 dead birds and 30,000 culled. The Agriculture Ministry published an open letter to 800 million farmers on the ministry website, to explain that the bird flu scenario is "very serious" and to urge them to take more precautions and to be more watchful. 

    Indonesia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono admitted that two more people died of the disease (a 13-year-old girl who died on 8 November and a 20-year-old woman who died on 12 November) in Jakarta's Sulianti Saroso hospital.  This beings the country's death toll to seven. "Special attention" for the populated areas of the capital has been announced; "11 confirmed cases of infection, seven of them now dead" came from there. A 16-year-old girl admitted to hospital on Friday 11 November was also confirmed to be infected. Testing was undertaken in Hong Kong labs.

    Thailand. An 18-month old baby has been admitted, thought to have been infected by dead birds around its home on the eastern outskirts of Bangkok. Since the start of October, there have been two outbreaks of infection in 10 of the country's 76 provinces, especially in the central region. Since 2003, 21 people have been infected, and 13 of them have died.

    Malaysia. Chua Soi Lek, Health Minister, said that in cases of human infection, quarantine will be imposed on a zone stretching up to a 3km radius. A total of 3.4 million US dollars has been allocated for poultry vaccinations.

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    See also

    27/10/2005 ASIA
    Suspected new cases of bird flu in humans in China and Thailand
    No official confirmation has been forthcoming. International discussions over countermeasures and antiviral drugs continue. Concern is mounting over the danger that the virus might spread to Africa.

    10/11/2005 ASIA
    Bird flu suspected in new death in Indonesia
    Virus is spreading in China despite government measures. New outbreaks reported in Liaoning province and Vietnam.

    17/10/2005 ASIA
    Asian battleground key to beating bird flu virus
    For World Health Organisation, the virus appeared in South-East Asia and it is here that the risk of pandemic is the greatest. International aid is necessary to prevent it.

    28/10/2005 CHINA – ASIA
    In China no information about the dangers of the avian flu
    Local media are not covering the issue, especially in the areas where it is most needed. International health organisations are concerned. Hunan girl thought to have died of the bird flu died of pneumonia instead.

    31/10/2005 CHINA - ASIA
    Bird flu in China very serious, say official sources

    Migrating birds can carry the infection anywhere. The death of a girl in Hunan is still the subject of debate. Beijing stands accused of "excessive use" of an antiviral drug which has led to resistance of the virus. New cases are reported in Japan and South-east Asia.





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