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Thread: Man dies of bird flu as global experts meet

  1. #1
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    Oct 2005

    Default Man dies of bird flu as global experts meet

    By Ho Binh Minh
    HANOI, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A Vietnamese man has died of bird flu, the latest case in Asia that underlines the urgency for top health experts drawing up a strategy in Geneva to prevent the virus from spreading to humans around the globe.

    The World Bank says a flu pandemic lasting a year could cost the global economy up to $800 billion and health experts say it is imperative to control the spread of the H5N1 avian flu virus in animals before it mutates and spreads easily among people.

    The World Bank set out the possible financial cost at a three-day meeting in Geneva at which hundreds of experts are drawing up a strategy to prevent bird flu from developing into a pandemic in which millions could die.

    "Normally it takes six months to design a programme of this kind. We have three days," the senior U.N. coordinator for avian and human influenza, David Nabarro, said at the talks, stressing the need to boost surveillance and reporting.

    In Asia, where 64 people have died of bird flu since late 2003, that need is vital because many farmers live in close proximity to poultry and other livestock.

    In Vietnam alone, 42 people have died from H5N1. The latest case is a 35-year-old man who died late last month after eating a chicken with his family, Nguyen Van Binh, deputy director of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, told Reuters.

    "Other members of the family are still fine, but there is a poultry market near their house," Binh said on Tuesday.

    The man, from Hanoi, developed a slight fever after eating the chicken and was taken to hospital on Oct. 26 with respiratory difficulties. He died a few days later.

    China, which has not reported any human cases of bird flu, has asked for international help to double check whether the virus killed a 12-year-old girl and made two others sick.

    Malaysia said it is carrying out more tests after a second flock of pigeons was found dead in the country's northwest.

    The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed half of all people known to have been infected since the virus resurfaced two years ago, worrying governments about a health and economic crisis if the virus acquires the ability to pass between people.

    For now, H5N1 is hard for humans to catch and remains a disease of birds, leading to the death or culling of millions of poultry. It has recently spread to eastern Europe and is expected to move into the Middle East and Africa.

    World Health Organisation Director-General Lee Jong-Wook told the Geneva talks that migratory birds were carrying the virus into domestic poultry flocks around the world.

    He said it was only a matter of time before an avian flu virus, most likely H5N1, mutates into a pandemic form.

    "We don't know when this will happen, but we know it will happen," Lee said. "No society will be exempt."

    It is impossible to say how long any pandemic would last and how severe it would be, but it has the potential to cripple the global economy.
    In a report presented in Geneva, the World Bank said a two percent fall in global gross domestic product during an influenza pandemic would represent a loss of about $200 billion in output in one quarter, or $800 billion over a year.

    "We are broadly worried about trade in a globalised world, but two industries that would be particularly hit are tourism and agriculture," said Jim Adams, a senior World Bank official.

    The World Bank will launch an appeal for a $1 billion package at the conference, half of it to be provided through its grants or interest-free loans and half through a trust fund financed by donors, Adams said.
    Health officials have said compensation for farmers is a key part of any aid package after poultry flocks are culled. This provides an incentive to farmers to report outbreaks and limits the chances of more people becoming infected.

    This is crucial because people can act as a mixing vessel in which H5N1 and a closely related human influenza virus could exchange genetic material when infecting the same human cell, creating a new strain for which no one has immunity.

    Swiss drug company Roche said on Monday it was in talks with other drugmakers and governments to step up production of its anti-viral drug Tamiflu, seen as one of the most effective methods of fighting bird flu currently available.

    Roche said it had received more than 150 requests from third parties to produce Tamiflu and was in early talks with eight companies, selecting potential partners for more detailed discussions by the end of November.

  2. #2
    Elite Member LynnieD's Avatar
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    Oct 2005

    Default Re: Man dies of bird flu as global experts meet

    I hate those words 'Just a matter of time'. Lets freak everyone out why don't you??

    Could the drug companies be behind this hype?? The company making Tamiflu is surely going to be seeing a big jump in business.....

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