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Avian Flu

January 7, 2009 | TIMES WIRE REPORTS
Chinese health authorities closed poultry markets in a province surrounding Beijing today after a woman died of bird flu, the first such death in the country in almost a year. The 19-year-old woman died of the H5N1 virus after coming into contact with poultry in Hebei province. In parts of the province, poultry markets were closed and the sale of live birds stopped as workers in masks sprayed disinfectant.
January 4, 2009 | Mary Engel
Just when you thought you could scratch bird flu off your list of things to worry about in 2009, the deadly H5N1 virus has resurfaced in poultry in Hong Kong for the first time in six years, reinforcing warnings that the threat of a human pandemic isn't over. India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and mainland China also experienced new outbreaks in December. During the same period, four new human cases -- in Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia -- were reported to the World Health Organization.
July 5, 2008 | Paul Watson, Times Staff Writer
Threats to shut down a U.S. Navy medical research lab here may undermine the hunt for mutating viruses that could set off the next flu pandemic, Western scientists warn. Indonesia suspended negotiations with the United States over the fate of Naval Medical Research Unit No. 2 last month after senior politicians said it didn't benefit Indonesia and could be a cover for spying. The U.S. Embassy firmly denied that the facility is used to gather intelligence, and said most of the lab's staff members are Indonesians helping with research carried out in cooperation with local health officials.
December 29, 2007 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Ordinary seasonal flu vaccines may provide a small amount of protection against bird flu, Italian researchers reported this week in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. Their study is among the first to support the idea that getting an annual flu shot may help people's bodies fight off the H5N1 virus, which has killed 210 people in 13 countries and infected 341. Researchers in Rome tested the blood of 42 volunteers who had been vaccinated against seasonal influenza.
December 28, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
The World Health Organization confirmed a single case of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 bird flu virus in a family in Pakistan, but said there was no apparent risk of it spreading wider. It said a team invited to Pakistan to look into an outbreak involving up to nine people from late October to Dec. 6 had found no evidence of sustained or community human-to-human transmission. All but the one brother who died have recovered. It was the first human-to-human H5N1 transmission in Pakistan.
December 17, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
International health experts are investigating Pakistan's first outbreak of bird flu in people to determine whether the virus was transmitted through human-to-human contact, officials said. Four brothers -- two of whom died -- and two cousins from Abbottabad, a small city about 30 miles north of Islamabad, were suspected of being infected with the H5N1 virus, World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said. Four WHO experts have been sent to Pakistan to investigate, Hartl said.
October 6, 2007 | From Reuters
The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said Thursday. The changes are worrying, said Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "We have identified a specific change that could make bird flu grow in the upper respiratory tract of humans," said Kawaoka, who led the study. "The viruses that are circulating in Africa and Europe are the ones closest to becoming a human virus."
March 5, 2007 | From Times wire reports
Think bird flu will become a worldwide threat this summer? Wanna put some money on that? In an unusual effort to better predict the advance of a potential flu pandemic, public health experts will be staked about $100 apiece to bet on the spread of bird flu. This type of grim futures market has also been created to predict hurricanes and temporarily, a few years ago, terrorist attacks.
February 28, 2007 | Denise Gellene, Times Staff Writer
A federal advisory committee on Tuesday recommended approval of the first bird flu vaccine for humans, despite concerns about its safety and evidence that the shots won't protect most people. The panel said although the vaccine had significant shortcomings, it was safe and effective for use during a pandemic or in high-risk situations, such as military deployment to regions facing an outbreak. The vaccine, produced by the French drug company Sanofi-Aventis, won't be sold commercially.
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