Saturday, November 24, 2012

Recombinomics: Renal Failure In Riyadh Betacornavirus Fatal Cluster

Recombinomics Commentary 05:45
November 24, 2012
WHO reported a cluster of four cases in October in a family living in the same household in Saudi Arabia, in which a father and son both fell ill with symptoms including pneumonia, fever and respiratory problems. The father, 70, died after developing renal failure. His son was hospitalized shortly afterward and died four days later after multiorgan failure. The son was confirmed with the coronavirus while the father's results are pending.

The above comments provide additional detail on the Riyadh fatal cluster, which support human to human transmission.  The detail includes the time gap between disease onset / hospitalization dates, which supports infection of the son by his father.  Moreover the report of renal failure in both cases further support novel betacoronavirus infection, even though lab confirmation in the father has not been reported.

The first two confirmed cases also had renal failure.  The case in Saudi Arabia died, while the Qatar case was placed on an ECMO machine to assist breathing after both lungs were severely damaged.  Reports of renal failure in all three fatal cases, as well as severe confirmed cases bear striking similarities to the 2002/2003 SARS cases.  Renal failure was reported in 5-6% of the cases and the vast majority of such cases were fatal.

Thus, the report of renal failure in at least 4 of the 8 confirmed / suspect cases strongly suggests that a much larger number of cases have not been reported / detected.  The failure to confirm the novel coronavirus in one of the symptomatic family members raises additional testing concerns.

Although media reports continue to emphasize the lack of confirmed human transmission, the delayed onset dates and renal failure in the two fatal cases in the familial cluster support human transmission in cases other than the 8 confirmed / suspect cases reported to date. 

Recombinomics: Egypt H5N1 Matches In Fatal 2011 Cases Raise Concerns

Recombinomics Commentary 21:30
November 15, 2012
The CDC has released a series of H5N1 sequences from cases in Egypt.  Full sets of sequences were released for cases through the end of 2011.  The three most recent sets were from fatal cases who died in December, 2011.  The first case (F), A/Egypt/N11126/2011 was 24 weeks pregnant and developed symptoms on November 26 (which was also true for her young child, who was also H5N1 confirmed, but survived).  The mother died on December 3 (the sample was collected on December 1, when the mother was admitted) and was from Dakahlia Governorate.  The second fatal case (29M), A/Egypt/N11470/2011, was also from Dakahlia.  He developed symptoms on December 8 and died December 19 (the sample was collected on December 15, when he was admitted).  The third fatal case (42M), A/Egypt/N14976/2011, was from Menofia Governorate.  He developed symptoms on December 16, and died on December 22 (the sample was collected on December 21, when he was admitted).

Although the cases were from two distinct governorates, and from cases that developed symptoms more than three weeks apart, all three sequences were virtually identical.  Sequences for PA and NS were identical in all three patients.  Five other genes (PB2, HA, NP, NA, MP) where identical in the two male patients, and the female sequence had one nucleotide difference in each of the five genes.  The PB1 sequence was also closely related in all three cases and mapped on the same branch in phylogenetic analysis.

The near identity in all three cases (which would almost certainly be closely related to the child who was also H5N1 confirmed, raises concerns that H5N1 is evolving toward more efficient transmission in humans in Egypt.  The adaptations had been noted previously, since all recent human cases have been from the same sub-clade, which has the 3 BP deletion in HA.

More information on relationships between these three cases, as well as sequences from 2012 H5N1 cases would be useful. 

WHO: Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Uganda - update

As of 23 November 2012, a total of 20 (probable or confirmed) cases, including 9 deaths have been reported from4 districts in Uganda (Kabale, Ibanda, Mbarara, and Kampala).
The last confirmed case was hospitalised on 31 October 2012.
The Ministry of Health continues to conduct active surveillance and investigation on all cases alerted in the 4 districts. Close contacts of the Marburg cases are being followed-up for a period of 21 days.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Vietnam has good control of influenza A/H5N1


Vietnam has good control of influenza A/H5N1 and the mortality rate is not high in the countries of the world. Information on TS. Gregory A Hartl - Communications coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Geneva, Switzerland to share at the Media Workshop A/H5N1 flu risk by the Department of Preventive Medicine, Ministry of Health, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) jointly organized on 22/11 in Hanoi.According to Dr. Gregory A Hartl, the ability of patients survived influenza A/H5N1 depends on the patient to the hospital sooner or later. TS. Gregory A Hartl also recommended, to prevent the risk of death from influenza A/H5N1, the patient needs to BV early, avoid hospitalized late, when the disease was severe leading to a higher risk of death.

Statistics of the Department of Preventive Medicine showed that, in 2012, Vietnam recorded four cases of A/H5N1 flu, including two deaths. Also in 2012, the world has recorded 30 cases of A/H5N1 flu in six countries, including 19 deaths. 

WHO: Novel coronavirus infection - update

WHO has been notified of four additional cases, including one death, due to infection with the novel coronavirus. The additional cases have been identified as part of the enhanced surveillance in Saudi Arabia (3 cases, including 1 death) and Qatar (1 case). This brings the total of laboratory confirmed cases to 6.
Investigations are ongoing in areas of epidemiology, clinical management, and virology, to look into the likely source of infection, the route of exposure, and the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus. Close contacts of the recently confirmed cases are being identified and followed-up.
So far, only the two most recently confirmed cases in Saudi Arabia are epidemiologically linked - they are from the same family, living in the same household. Preliminary investigations indicate that these 2 cases presented with similar symptoms of illness. One died and the other recovered.
Additionally, 2 other members of this family presented with similar symptoms of illness, where one died and the other is recovering. Laboratory results of the fatal case is pending, while the case that is recovering tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
WHO continues to work with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other international health partners to gain a better understanding of the novel coronavirus and the disease in humans. Further epidemiological and scientific studies are needed to better understand the virus.
WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and is currently reviewing the case definition and other guidance related to the novel coronavirus. Until more information is available, it is prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases. Member States should consider testing of patients with unexplained pneumonias for the new coronavirus even in the absence of travel or other associations with the two affected countries. In addition, any clusters of SARI or SARI in health care workers should be thoroughly investigated regardless of where in the world they occur.
Of the 6 laboratory confirmed cases reported to WHO, 4 cases (including 2 deaths) are from Saudi Arabia and 2 cases are from Qatar. 

Family cluster of novel coronavirus cases reported in Saudi Arabia

November 23, 2012
Posted by Declan Butler

The World Health Organization (WHO) this afternoon reported four new lab-confirmed cases of a novel coronavirus infection bringing the total number of cases identified since June to six.

Two of the cases are from the same household, raising the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus, although it’s also possible that they both contracted it independently from an animal source in the area.

Three of the new cases occurred in Saudi Arabia, including one who died, while a fourth case was reported in Qatar.

The WHO gave few further details of the cases, such as their age or sex, or their current medical condition. That the new cases have been found likely reflects increased surveillance for the virus since it’s identification as a novel virus. They follow two cases reported earlier — a 60 year old man from Saudi Arabia who fell ill, and died in June, and a 49-year-old man from Qatar who fell ill in September and has since recovered — see SARS veterans tackle coronavirus. None of the contacts of those two men are known to have contracted the virus, which suggests that the virus likely doesn’t transmit, or doesn’t transmit easily, between humans. The novel coronavirus, identified as such in September, is genetically most-closely related to bat coronaviruses, and bats and possibly intermediate animal hosts, are likely to be the virus’ reservoirs.

Among this new batch of cases, two of the four cases in Saudi Arabia were from the same family, living in the same household — one died and the other recovered. Moreover, two other family members showed similar symptoms, and one has died; the WHO is waiting on the results as to whether the fatal case tests positive for the coronavirus too; the recovered case tested negative.

Household clusters of cases of a novel virus raise the possibility of human-to-human transmission, and so immediately catch the attention of epidemiologists, who along with clinicians and virologists, will be urgently seeking to tease out the likely source of infection, how the people contracted the virus, and whether they each caught it independently from an animal reservoir, or is there any human-to-human transmission going on.

The WHO gave no description of the symptoms, but the cases in June and September had severe pneumonia and acute renal failure. What’s also striking so far is the very high case mortality rate – so far two out of six cases, and three out of seven if the unconfirmed fatal case tests positive. Now, one can’t put a firm figure on case mortality rates until one knows the true number of deaths and cases, in particular as more asymptomatic or recovered cases may be going unnoticed — pinning that down will require more surveillance and epidemiology data, including seroprevalence surveys to test if people not showing infection have antibodies to the virus, and so have been exposed to it. But the symtoms are serious, and the death rate in this particular cluster suggests the mortality rate could be high. 

Not surprisingly, WHO is urging all countries to continue careful surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections, and warns that until more is known, it would be “prudent to consider that the virus is likely more widely distributed than just the two countries which have identified cases”. The WHO also seems to have upped the urgency of screening. It’s current case definition only calls for testing any unexplained pneunomias in places “where infection with novel coronavirus has recently been reported or where transmission could have occurred”. Today’s report says testing of such cases for the novel coronavirus should be considered “even in the absence of travel or other associations with the Middle East”, adding that any clusters of serious pneumonia, or cases of such illness, health care workers “should be thoroughly investigated regardless of where in the world they occur”. For the moment, there’s no evidence that the virus so far transmits between people, but scientists and public health official will be keeping a close eye on it, and seeking to quickly understand every aspect of the virus and its ecology. 

Vietnam: The risk of outbreak of A/H5N1 flu infected poultry trade


This is the warning information in risk communication workshop on A/H5N1 flu organized by the Ministry of Health in Hanoi on 22-11. Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, Deputy Director, Department of Preventive Medicine, said the latest research through the investigation of the veterinary authorities in Vietnam have found the C branch of the A/H5N1 flu virus but have not recognized the spread of this new virus to humans.
However, before the state of transport and trade of poultry disease poultry complex of unknown origin took place today, the risk of avian influenza H5N1 outbreak and spread to humans is very high if the authorities do not adequately control measures.
Moreover, the smuggling of poultry diseases in the past is a huge risk for the spread of the A/H5N1 flu outbreak from country to country, or from one region to another.

Vietnam: A/H5N1 flu still at risk of outbreak

Since early this year, the country has discovered four cases of A/H5N1 flu, including two deaths. Predict future risk and return of the A/H5N1 flu outbreak is great.

At the workshop on risk communication A/H5N1 flu morning 22/11, Tran Thanh Duong, Deputy Director of the Department of Preventive Medicine, said, next time A/H5N1 flu continued outbreaks in poultry as well as affecting people if the authorities do not adequately control measures. Meanwhile, the trade of trafficking and smuggling of poultry diseases in recent years is a huge risk for the spread of the A/H5N1 flu outbreak from one region to another, from one country to other countries.

According to statistics of the Department of Preventive Medicine, since early 2012, the A/H5N1 flu has appeared scattered on both poultry and humans. The outbreak appears small, scattered, mainly on waterfowl Forum in the household. In particular, in Vietnam, the A/H5N1 flu cases have a high mortality rate.
Caused by strains of the virus circulating in the country have high virulence and the majority of these cases admitted to the hospital late. In 2012 there were 4 people with, including two deaths.Announces Recent Animal Health Department (Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development) on the results of analysis to explain gene that appeared branched virus new bird in North, Central and Western Highlands. Protective effect of the vaccine before the new strain of bird flu this decline, only 35 - 40%. This makes the risk of A/H5N1 flu on increasing.
Direct contact with infected poultry is the main transmission. In fact the last time showed that most cases of influenza A/H5N1 were related to breeding, slaughtering and eating poultry. So, to prevent disease, Department of Preventive Medicine recommends people to discover sick poultry, died absolutely slaughtered and use that to notify local authorities handled promptly.
Transport, purchase and sale of poultry of unknown origin, especially in areas with outbreaks in poultry; ensure cooked, boiled drinking; wash hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet. When symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath related to avian influenza immediately to the nearest medical facility for examination and treatment in a timely manner. Avoid late to the hospital because it was sick, high risk of death.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Japan: Overview of the Law Concerning Special Measures against pandemic influenza, etc. H3N2v

[Translation.  Editing is mine]
Past Pandemi virus to mutate
In August this year, to infect human cases have been reported over the total of 200 influenza H3N2v swine in several states of the United States. It is thought that this virus, it is assumed that gene of pandemic influenza that occurred in 2009 in the influenza H3N2 in Hong Kong has been crossed, it is like the one who developed infection and many children were in contact with rich and live pigs, such as fair agriculture there. The force is so weak that virulence is weak, the infection from person to person, which is not considered a major problem stage Luckily, there is a need to follow carefully.

Mutations in the gene is intense, influenza viruses are waterfowl, but is host intrinsic, out to infect humans and pigs occasionally and repeat mutations, so as to have the power to infect efficiently from person to person become. If the type that does not have a lot of people it has infected, it may due to the lack of immunity, cause (Pandemi) a global pandemic, causing serious damage at the same time. It is a Spanish flu the most serious things that are known all over the world in the past years struck 1918-19. Because they were not noticeable during the First World War, which killed 40 million people, also referred to as the world, he gave the victims of more than 380 000 people in Japan. (H3N2) has become Pandemi Asian flu of the year 57 ~ 58 (H2N3), Hong Kong flu of 68-69 years thereafter.

Ceva Announces Breakthrough with Launch of Vectormune AI

21 November 2012
[Editing is mine]
EGYPT - Ceva Santé Animale has launched Vectormune® AI, a vaccine for poultry against Avian Influenza following licence approval from the USDA in April 2012. Ceva expects to launch in several countries where avian influenza is endemic over the coming months.
The vaccine is suitable for layers, broilers and breeders. It has been developed using contemporary science and novel technology which has been applied to a 50-year-old proven vaccine, a frozen Marek's vaccine (HVT).

The science developed has managed to by-pass Maternally Derived Antibodies which prevent day-old chicks from taking up vaccines and securing immunity to strains of AI at an early age.

Moreover, the application of the vaccine within the controlled environment of a hatchery when the chick is one day old, means that chicks are protected earlier in their lives, are at significantly less risk of infection during their lives and will live, healthily and productively to provide safe proteins (eggs and meat) to consumers.

Vectormune AI's protection has been evaluated against different strains of the AI virus (H5N1), isolated from around the world belonging to different clades (categories of strains) of this rapidly spreading and fast mutating virus. It efficacy is well proven ensuring a survival rate of between 80 and 100% of flocks within the test, no matter the provenance of the AI strain. Once vaccinated the vaccine remains in the chick.

Avian Influenza remains a major threat to the global poultry industry. Amongst the different strains of this mobile and fast changing virus, the H5 and H7 strains carry the highest risk to birds. The spread of these strains of virus are inducing high levels of mortality in infected birds and there is a risk of the virus 'jumping' to humans and affecting human health. Governments of producing and importing nations are seeking a powerful and effective vaccine which has the capacity to reduce mortality within a flock to ensure that commercial chickens are healthy and that their protein (eggs/meat) is safe to eat.

Speaking at the launch of the product, attended by over 300 representatives of the Egyptian poultry industry and leading figures from the Animal Health Services Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Ceva CEO Marc Prikazsky said: "Avian Influenza threatens the livelihood of millions of poultry producers and deprives communities of an important source of animal protein. The disease is also zoonotic and therefore directly threatens the human population living close to affected birds.

"Our innovative vaccine Vectormune AI is a real scientific breakthrough and marks the first step towards potentially eradicating this disease and improving the lives and livelihoods of millions of people world-wide."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

H5N1 strikes Bangladesh poultry farm

November 19, 2012

Livestock officials in Bangladesh yesterday announced an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak at a commercial poultry farm in Dhaka division, according to their report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The outbreak, which began on Oct 23, killed 156 of 4,191 susceptible birds, and the remaining ones were culled to curb the spread of the virus. Officials haven't yet determined how the flocks were infected. The country's last H5N1 outbreak occurred in April, when the virus struck nine poultry farms in Dhaka, Khulna, and Rajshahi divisions.

HHS to host international workshop on H5N1 research issues

November 19, 2012
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will host a 2-day workshop Dec 17 and 18 to discuss issues related to dual-use H5N1 avian influenza research. The event will take place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md., and is open to the public but will not be webcast, according to the meeting announcement. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the NIH, hinted about the upcoming meeting in an editorial on H5N1 research moratorium published last month in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology. In a flyer about the meeting the HHS said the goal of the meeting is to provide a forum for multidisciplinary and multinational perspectives on experiments that explore how H5N1 might evolve to become a greater threat to humans. As part of developing its own funding policies, the HHS said it is interested in hearing from various stakeholders and how other governments and funders approach similar H5N1 research issues. Speakers will include experts from around the globe who have expertise in influenza, other infectious diseases, dual-use research (which could be used for both good and bad ends), bioethics, public health, biosecurity, epidemiology, national security, public health surveillance, agricultural and the World Health Organization, law, and medical countermeasure development.

Researchers say H5N1 viruses in Egypt may pose special pandemic risk

[editing is mine]
November 19, 2012
Most H5N1 avian influenza viruses in Egypt have two mutations that may make them more transmissible in mammals, thus posing a greater threat of sparking a human pandemic than H5N1 viruses elsewhere, according to experts whose research on H5N1 transmissibility sparked a major controversy in the past year. The finding was reported by Ron Fouchier, PhD, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, and three other authors in an opinion article published last week in PLoS Pathogens. Their conclusion was based on an inspection of publicly available hemagglutinin (HA) sequences from H5N1 viruses. Fouchier led a team that showed that as few as five mutations could give H5N1 viruses airborne transmissibility in ferrets, and Kawaoka's team showed that a hybrid virus containing H5 HA, with certain mutations, also could be an airborne spreader in ferrets. The studies were published in May and June after a long debate in science and government circles about whether the details should be released. The studies revealed, among other things, that a mutation involving loss of a glycosylation site at HA positions 154-156 appears to be critical for H5 virus transmission in mammals, according to the PLoS Pathogens article. When the team examined available HA sequences from avian H5N1 viruses, they found that more than 70% of Egyptian isolates lacked the HA 154-156 glycosylation site, versus about 25% of isolates from Vietnam and none from Indonesia. An analysis of human isolates from the three countries revealed a similar pattern. In addition, the researchers say the mutation PB2-627K, which is known to be involved in mammalian adaptation of avian flu viruses, is found in most H5N1 isolates from Egypt.
Nov 15 PLoS Pathogens article

FAO sees signs of decline in H5N1 outbreaks

Nov 19, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – The number of reported H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks in poultry and wild birds has decreased since mid 2011 and was down sharply in the second quarter of this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a quarterly update on the ongoing situation.
Six countries reported a total of 98 domestic poultry outbreaks and 5 wild bird cases or outbreaks from April through June of this year, which was far below the 508 outbreaks reported in the second quarter of 2011, the FAO said. The affected countries were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China (including Hong Kong), Egypt, India, and Indonesia.
The global number of H5N1 outbreaks dropped from 2003 to mid 2008, increased again from mid-2008 to mid-2011, and has dropped since then, according to the FAO figures.
Factors in the second-quarter decline included lower numbers reported from Egypt and Indonesia and an absence of reported outbreaks in countries where the disease has occurred sporadically, such as Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam, the agency reported.
But the FAO cautioned that not all outbreaks are reported, making it difficult to tell if the world has actually made progress in H5N1 control.
"Clinical signs [of disease] can be masked by the use of regular vaccination in poultry populations. As a result, outbreaks are underreported," the report says. Also, some countries have little information on the disease status in their commercial poultry sectors, it adds.
Outbreaks and affected countries were fewer in the second quarter than in the first quarter of this year, which is typical because the April-through-June period generally marks the end of the H5N1 season, the FAO said. From January through March there were 198 outbreaks in 11 countries.
Egypt reported 19 outbreaks in the second quarter, including 15 in mostly unvaccinated household flocks and four in vaccinated commercial flocks, the report says.
Among 374 Egyptian commercial farms where active surveillance was conducted, the virus was found on only three. Active surveillance conducted in household poultry in 103 villages produced two positive samples, the FAO said.
The report also notes that 76 samples from commercial farms in 11 Egyptian governorates tested positive for low-pathogenicity H9 flu viruses.
Indonesia continues to report "a high proportion" of H5N1 outbreaks, but outbreaks in the second quarter were lower than in previous years, the FAO said. Unlike other countries, however, Indonesia counts H5N1 outbreaks at the village level rather than the household level, and the report does not offer specific year-on-year comparisons.
Officers in Indonesia's Participatory Disease Surveillance and Response (PDSR) program visited 1,078 villages in May, of which 62 (5.8%) were infected, the report says. Fifty-seven of the 62 infections were new. Over the preceding 12 months, about 5.5% of villages visited were classified as newly infected, the FAO reported.
In China, three poultry H5N1 outbreaks were reported in three provinces, while five wild-bird cases were reported in Hong Kong, the report says.
Since 2011 China has had an apparent increase in outbreaks in several northern provinces and other areas outside the identified high-risk zones in the south and east, the FAO said. It said more investigation is needed to uncover the reason for the increase.
The agency reported the following about other countries and regions:
  • Bangladesh and India had one outbreak apiece, but the pattern of outbreaks in India suggests that H5N1 may be endemic in some regions.
  • Vietnam officially reported no outbreaks, but the virus may be endemic in the southern part of the country.
  • No outbreaks were reported in the Middle East. The last one in that region was reported in Israel in the first quarter of this year.
  • The last wild bird outbreak in Europe was reported in Russia in June 2010.
  • The last country to see its first H5N1 outbreak was Bhutan in February 2010.
The report says that nine confirmed human cases of H5N1 illness were reported in the second quarter of 2012 in four countries: Cambodia, China, Egypt, and Indonesia.
So far this year, 30 human H5N1 cases and 19 deaths have been reported, with the most recent case reported in Indonesia in August, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2011 there were 62 cases with 34 deaths. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Egyptian Ministry of Health launches campaign against influenza

20 - 11 - 2012

Dr. Amr Kandil, that the ministry attaches great importance to the prevention of risk of seasonal influenza, and monitor any mutation in the influenza virus, one of the indicators of risk in this disease. Kandil pointed out that the rate of deaths from the flu in Egypt up to 0.36 percent, which is less than the global average, which is 0.59 percent.

He pointed out that hygiene is the first line protection of human influenza. said Egyptian Minister of Health former Dr. Mohamed Awad Tag Eddin The flu symptoms are similar to the symptoms of the common cold, but influenza much sometimes to the point potentially life-threatening, via exacerbate diseases such as pneumonia, and landing ( failure) heart, and diabetes. pointed crown debt to the type of viruses released «WHO» warning him after his appearance in the Arabian Gulf belongs to the family «crowns» which include influenza.


India: Steps taken to check spread of bird flu

chickens Over £6.2m to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses

[Editing is mine]
Imperial College London
19 Nov 2012

Over £6.2 million of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding has been awarded to develop rapid responses to emerging poultry viruses. The funding boost will also help to establish the next generation of poultry virologists, to work in a scientific area where the UK has traditionally been strong.
The ‘Developing Rapid Responses to Emerging Virus Infections of Poultry’ project will enable the recognition of emerging viruses before widespread infections occur, prepare for the possibility of new subtypes of avian influenza, and help the process of developing better vaccines for poultry and humans.
The research will be led by Dr Michael Skinner, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. It will involve close collaboration with Professor Wendy Barclay (also at Imperial); Dr Laurence Tiley, Professor Jim Kaufman and Professor Ian Goodfellow (all at the University of Cambridge); Professor Steve Goodbourn (St George's, University of London); Professor Venugopal Nair (of The Pirbright Institute and a visiting professor at Imperial College London); and Professor Helen Sang at the University of Edinburgh’s The Roslin Institute.
This research will address important scientific challenges to allow better isolation and diagnosis of emerging viruses, as well as faster and better production of vaccines against them. Scientists will study endemic and exotic viruses, in an era when new poultry viruses rapidly cross national and continental boundaries to become global problems.
Dr Michael Skinner said: “One area of the research will help us to identify infections early. We are looking for distinct signatures that appear upon infection of cells in the lab. We can use these signatures to create means of detecting new viruses, especially in elite breeder flocks, where the UK and Europe has an important global commercial presence”.
Poultry virus research is vital, not only for the protection of an important source of animal protein to feed a growing world population, but also for human health. Poultry virus research enabled the development of the influenza vaccine and the use of interferons as antiviral medicine.
Dr Skinner added: “The study of poultry viruses has made an important contribution to the development of the modern science of virology. We also need to understand the way viruses interact with chicken cells because isolation and diagnosis of viruses is often conducted in eggs or avian cells and some important human vaccines, including those for seasonal and pandemic influenza, are produced in them”.
In addition to boosting knowledge, the funding will increase effort in poultry virology in anticipation of new facilities at The Pirbright Institute and the multi-million pound National Avian Research Facility, which is a collaboration between the Roslin Institute and The Pirbright Institute.
Professor Venugopal Nair said: “This funding will help secure effective capacity and closer working between the UK academic institutions, in advance of the commissioning of new world-class facilities, to enable the study of the world's most devastating poultry viruses.”

WHO: Ebola in Uganda

The Ministry of Health (MoH) of Uganda has notified WHO of an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Luweero district in Central Uganda.
Four cases, including 3 fatal, have been reported. Samples were taken from two cases, for which laboratory confirmation of Ebola virus (species Sudan) was made by PCR and serology tests at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe.
The Ministry of Health, WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have sent a team to conduct preliminary investigation into the outbreak. Health authorities are conducting active case search and tracing close contacts of the confirmed and probable cases.
The isolation facility at Mulago hospital in Kampala is reactivated and another isolation facility at Nyimbwa Health Center IV at the epicenter is being established. The military hospital in Bombo, Luweero district is also serving a holding center until the isolation facility is properly set up at the Nyimbwa Health Center IV. Seven close contacts of the cases have developed symptoms and are being isolated in the isolation facilities.
WHO and partners, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Uganda Red Cross (URCS), African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and Médecins-Sans-Frontières (MSF) are supporting the authorities in the response activities. Experts in the area of field epidemiology, health promotion, logistics management, and infection prevention and control are being identified to provide additional support through the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN).
With respect to this event, WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restriction be applied to Uganda.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bird Flu Strain Suspected At A NSW Farm Seems Different From the Lethal H5N1 Flu

Though the results of the lab tests made with samples of the virus by CSIRO are still awaited, it seems to be another strain of bird flu at a hen farm near Maitland in the Hunter Valley.

The authority might have to quarantine about 50,000 chickens. Undoubtedly, the presently suspected virus does not seem to be similar to that of the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu. Since 2003, several outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu have taken place, in which approximately 359 people have been killed all over the world.

According to the NSW Department of Primary Industries, nevertheless 50,000 hens may have to be destroyed. The first response team of specialists from the department is already investigating the site. Lab tests results are expected this afternoon. Efforts are being made to prevent the spread of this virus. Initial tracing and observation are being taken on.
As said by Ian Roth, the chief veterinary of NSW, "The suspected virus is definitely not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has gained worldwide attention - nor is it closely related to that strain".
Earlier to this, a number of avian influenza virus outbreaks have arose in Australia but all of them were eradicated successfully in a short period of time. And with the same spirit, researchers are expecting to halt this virus very soon.

Scientists Linger On To Nail Down the Virus

A recent report confirmed the presence of avian influenza among the birds housed at Central Poultry Development Organisation & Training Institute (CPDOTI) in Hesaraghatta.

This news has certainly sent jitters in the society by raising fears that there can be an outbreak of the same among birds in the time to come.

 However, the team at the High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal has not been able to track down if the virus which affected the CPDOTI birds is a mutation or not. It is yet not clear if it can affect humans and if yes, then how?.

Basically, there are three types of viruses that cause avian flu -- H5, H7 and H9, and it is believed that among these three, H5 is the most infectious, which has the tendency to affect humans too. However, uncertainty if the virus is the basic H5N1 virus, the deadly mutated H5N1- virus, or a deadlier mutation than that remains intact in Bangalore or at HSADL in Bhopal. There is yet no confirmation from CPDOTI scientists about how they are going to deal with the same, but experts at HSADL claimed that they would keep on investigating in order to nail it down. "And it could turn disastrous if the virus that has attacked the birds now is a further mutated one", said one from the team.

Bird Flu Vaccine: Prototype For H5N1 Vaccine Backed By FDA Advisory Panel

By Ransdell Pierson

Nov 14 (Reuters) - An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday voted unanimously that a GlaxoSmithKline Plc prototype vaccine against bird flu appears to be safe and produces the desired immune-system response against the highly fatal virus.

The London-based drugmaker said the advisory panel of outside medical experts voted 14 to 0 to support its vaccine against the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The virus is spread among birds but sometimes infects people, with highly fatal consequences.

"Glaxo looks forward to the approval by the FDA of our vaccine, hopefully later this year," said Leonard Friedland, a senior U.S. vaccine executive for the London-based drugmaker.

If approved by the agency, Glaxo would be licensed to make millions of doses of the vaccine, which would likely be placed in a government stockpile for use in the event of a global epidemic.

The company would also be prepared to make as many other doses as required, perhaps including a slightly different strain of the virus than the Indonesia strain in its current prototype, Friedland said.

With such a tiny amount of needed antigen, Friedland said Glaxo could easily make "far more doses" of the vaccine than it otherwise could.

A special adjuvant boosts the effectiveness of the Glaxo vaccine, Friedland said, allowing for less antigen.

"It's the adjuvant that makes the difference," he said.