Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#H7N9 Australian export kits to test bird flu in Asia

28 May 2013

Australian scientists have played a crucial role in developing a diagnostic test to detect the latest deadly strain of bird flu.
The H7N9 virus has killed more than 30 people in China since February, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Scientists from Australia's peak scientific research body, the CSIRO, have developed a blood test which can confirm the presence of the H7N9 strain in ducks or poultry.
Its Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong has prepared and sent the diagnostic kits to countries in South-East Asia including Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The kits, which contains about 8,000 tests, have also been sent to Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh.
With the region on alert for the deadly strain, the test kits will help to ensure a prompt response should the H7N9 virus spread into Asia.
Dr Kurt Zuelke, director of the CSIRO's Animal Health Laboratory, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia it is a simple test procedure that gets results.
"The sample taken is from blood. You can take blood from a bird, duck or chicken and then the reagents in the kit can be mixed with it," he said.
"And what the test does is detects the very specific genetic sequence of the new virus to identity that one compared to other viruses that are circulating."
Earlier this year scientists in China sequenced the virus' gene, making the information available to researchers internationally.
WHO estimates the H7N9 virus has killed more than 360 people globally since 2003.


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