To prevent health hazards in chicken, the Korean government is making farmers increase rrthe size of the birds’ cages.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Monday, the minimum legal size of cages in local poultry farms will be expanded from 0.05 square meters (5 square feet) per bird to 0.075 square meters. Providing at least 0.075 square meters of space per hen is the standard currently in place among the European Union countries.

The new standard will go into effect on Sept. 1 with a grace period of seven years so existing farms can gradually upgrade their facilities.

An official from the Agriculture Ministry explained that the regulations announced Monday are a follow-up to measures introduced in the wake of the pesticide egg scandal that swept the country about a year ago.

“It was pointed out that overpopulation of hens in tight spaces caused the spread of ticks and mites, which were essentially the cause of the contaminated egg scandal,” explained the official.

Chickens stuck in small cages are unable to remove ticks on their own, which forces farmers to spray pesticides to kill them. These pesticides, used to keep chickens “healthy,” end up in the eggs they lay, which are consumed by the public. The pesticide-egg scare last year led to a drastic fluctuation in the price of eggs as the government scrambled to provide safe eggs to consumers, going as far as importing them from abroad.

“It was apparent that we needed to improve the living conditions of the birds to prevent or minimize such incidents in the future,” the official said.

The new standard is also a part of the government’s effort to prevent the spread of a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N6 avian influenza, a deadly virus that can also infect humans.

In addition to the enlargement of the bird cages, the government will also make it obligatory for farmers to install cameras at the entrance of their farms and inside hen houses.

This could help authorities figure out how a virus has spread and anticipate where it might end up next. Farms will also be required to install inspection facilities when they register for a business permit.

Bird flu has been a headache for the Korean government, spreading through the country almost every year.

The latest case detected was in March when a highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 avian influenza was discovered on some farms in Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong.

The government slaughtered more than 200,000 birds that month. More than six million birds were culled since November last year, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

“Bird flu occurs during the winter starting in November,” explained the Agriculture Ministry’s official. “We designate the months from October to May as needing extensive disinfection.”

Some experts, however, say that expanding the size of cages may not be sufficient, explaining that EU countries are banned from raising hens in battery cages and required to use so-called enriched cages instead, which are cleaner and more comfortable for the birds.



This Strain of Bird Flu Kills One-Third of Patients


A bird flu that started in China five years ago has slowly started to spread. Some experts worry it could be this year’s “Disease X.”

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New fears are starting to grow as there’s a strain of bird flu that’s killed over one-third of those it infects. Some experts warn that it has the potential to be the next pandemic.

As of June 15, 1,625 people in China have become infected with this virus and 623 are now dead — a total of 38 percent.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, has multiple subtypes. But, two have become the most concerning.

One strain of the bird flu, identified as H7N9, was first detected in people in 2013 in China, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Before 2013, this strain hadn’t been seen in any other population except birds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In the five years after the disease was found in humans, health officials have battled multiple outbreaks.

Are we prepared for the next pandemic?


‘The Gates Foundation estimates that if a global flu pandemic hit now, 33 million people would die’


When I was a child, my family would often go on hikes across Dartmoor, that glorious hilly wilderness in the south-west of England. One of my favourite pastimes on these trips was spotting the ruins of old villages, tucked under heather; these, I was told, were settlements that had been abandoned in the 14th century when the Black Death swept through Europe, killing between 30 per cent and 60 per cent of the population. It was a haunting memory; so much so, that when I recently took one of my daughters riding in the same hills, I pointed out the stones, and explained they were a small monument to the horrors of pandemics. “Could it happen again?” my daughter asked solemnly, looking at the ruins. I carefully proffered the same reassuring answer that my parents had once given me: unlike the 14th century, we now have powerful medicines and a much more advanced understanding of infection and how to control it. This, in theory, should easily prevent another Black Death. But as I uttered the words, part of my mind was asking: “Really?” After all, if you talk to the medics or philanthropists involved in the fight to prevent contagious diseases, there is a clear — and rising — note of anxiety. Take Bill Gates, the tech billionaire. In recent years, he and his wife Melinda have battled to improve global public health and say they are very optimistic about the stunning possibilities offered by 21st-century science. But there is one area where they are pessimistic: pandemics. The Gates Foundation recently modelled what might happen if a flu pandemic like the one in 1918 (in which between 50 million and 100 million people died) erupted today. The research suggests that if a comparable airborne respiratory pandemic hit now, about 33 million people would die within six months. And, as Bill Gates observed in a speech last month: “Given the continual emergence of new pathogens, the increasing risk of a bioterror attack, and how connected our world is through air travel, there is a significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” Our globalised world and love of travel makes it easy for pathogens to spread. But another significant problem is a dire lack of co-ordinated action. In theory, the US has plenty of cutting-edge science and money to fight disease. However, the Trump administration has shown little interest in tackling this issue; on the contrary, last week the White House global health security lead, Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, abruptly resigned from the National Security Council. John Bolton, head of the NSC, does not have plans to replace him, even though — in a ghastly irony — Ziemer left on the very same day that Democratic Republic of Congo reported a new outbreak of Ebola. Some Trump officials argue that the private sector should take the lead. But pharmaceutical companies do not have much incentive to develop speculative drugs unless there are government subsidies. And while it would ideally make sense for international bodies such as the UN to take charge — since pandemics move across national borders at lightning speed — much of the time the UN is depressingly slow-moving, bureaucratic and underfunded. Is there any other solution? Gates, for his part, is now frantically assembling philanthropic coalitions to develop a universal flu vaccine. He is also begging the US government to stockpile “antiviral drugs and antibody therapies that can be . . . rapidly manufactured to stop the spread of pandemic diseases or treat people who have been exposed”. Separately, in a welcome flash of proactive innovation, the UN is exploring ways to improve its own cross-border initiatives: last year, for example, it floated a plan to issue so-called pandemic bonds to give it more pre-emptive funding to fight pandemic risk. Entrepreneurs are responding too. Take Nathan Wolfe, a well-known epidemiologist who has spent most of his career working with public sector groups to combat disease. Today, though, Wolfe runs a California company, Metabiota, that harnesses big data to model disease, helping to create pandemic insurance for companies and governments. This might seem like a sideshow, given that what we really need to do is prevent another pandemic, not just protect against financial hits. Yet, after a lifetime of frustration working with the public sector, Wolfe told me that one of the best catalysts for government change might be getting the private sector to model the risk of pandemics; after all, there is nothing like paying for protection to concentrate the mind. Let us all hope so. But the next time I hear about a new Ebola, Zika, bird flu — or “normal” flu — scare, those images of the Dartmoor ruins will pop into my mind. Yes, the miracle of technology is what separates us from the 14th century, as I cheerfully told my daughter; but technology only works if we use our brains and collaborative spirit. And in that respect, we are not always so different from medieval Europe.

Flu pandemic could wipe out 300M people in two years, expert warns

AP Photo

AP Photo

A flu mutation with the potential to become the deadliest pandemic in history could arise any day, with few options left to humans to stop it, chair of the U.S.-based Global Health Council warned this week.

“The big one is coming: a global virus pandemic that could kill 33 million victims in its first 200 days,” Dr. Jonathan Quick wrote Tuesday. “Within the ensuing two years, more than 300 million people could perish worldwide.”

The mutated flu strand would likely arise from a cross between avian flu and another animal’s flu, which would make it more powerful, with a potential to wipe out a large portion of the globe. Quick compared this to the Spanish flu, which killed 100 million people in 1918.

“At the extreme, with a disrupted supply of food and medicines and without enough survivors to run computer or energy systems, the global economy would collapse. Starvation and looting could lay waste to parts of the world,” said Quick.

The flu expert warned that factory farms, which he called “fetid incubators of disease” are the main source of these flu strains. The H1N1 swine flu, which killed about 575,400 people in 2009, originated from bird flu mixing with human flu genes at an industrial farm.

Strains of the flu killed scores of Americans this year, with over 100 deaths among children recorded. Other bird cases of flu and animal cases of flu have hit East Asia and other spots around the globe, leaving doctors and scientists scrambling for cures.

Mutated bird flu strain ‘could kill 300 million people’

A top scientist has warned the global economy could collapse because of a pandemic.

A deadly strain of flu could claim as many as 300 million lives.

That is the warning from one of the world’s top health scientists after a winter plagued by the ‘Aussie flu’ outbreak in the UK.

Global Health Council chair Dr Jonathan Quick said the flu virus is “the most diabolical, hardest-to-control, and fastest-spreading potential viral killer known to humankind”.

And he was warned that if there was a global outbreak of a newly mutated strain it could kill up to 300 million people.

This winter’s flu outbreak was a warning that the world needs to be prepared for a new strain of bird flu, which is most likely to break out, reports the Daily Mirror .

Flying 2,500 miles is arduous enough. Imagine having to do it by flapping your arms

Dr Quick has warned that vital infrastructure including hospitals, and the global economy could all collapse under the pressure caused by a pandemic.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Quick warned: “The conditions are right, it could happen tomorrow”

“It seems that’s what happened in 1918 with Spanish flu and 1956 with Asian flu.

“The most likely culprit will be a new and unprecedentedly deadly mutation of the influenza virus. The conditions are right, it could happen tomorrow.”

Here's how to protect yourself against flu.

Dr Quick warned the potentially the most dangerous strain of flu, is bird flu, reports Cornwall Live.

The last pandemic hit in 2009-10 when swine flu emerged in Mexico, while the deadly Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 claimed up to 100 million lives.

Also known as avian flu, three strains have caused concern in recent years – H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6.

Of those H5N1 poses the greatest threat of mutating and sparking the next killer pandemic, according to Dr Quick.

He said: “If a new and highly contagious strain of H5N1 were to evolve and hitchhike with an unwitting passenger on to an aeroplane, the pandemic situation would quickly assume disaster movie proportions.”

Aussie Flu is on the way.

But he said disaster could be averted if more investment was put into looking for a universal vaccine for the flu

A new vaccine being developed by scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles hopes to bring us one step closer to that reality.

In the meantime we are left with more conventional ways to contain a a flu outbreak.

Public Health England (PHE) has repeatedly plugged their Catch It, Bin It, Kill It campaign, in the wake of the Aussie flu and Japanese flu outbreaks that hit the UK this winter.

Dr Paul Cosford, medical director and head of health protection at PHE, said last week: “In order to prevent the spread of flu, it is important to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene and to avoid close contact with others who have flu symptoms.”

The latest figures showed flu is still proving a problem across the UK, but that infections have “peaked”, PHE said.

Earlier this winter, Plymouth was in the ‘red zone’ for parts of the country affected by so-called Aussie flu.

Deaths were confirmed in the UK and in Ireland following the outbreak.

It is not clear if any cases were ever reported in the city.

But it did lead to wide-scale warnings from Public Health England.

The bird flu is killing the Queen’s swans

London (CNN)Bird flu has killed at least 30 swans from Queen Elizabeth’s flock, with more expected to succumb to the disease, UK officials say.

“We are currently at the river recovering bodies of the dead swans,” said David Barber, the official responsible for the Queen’s swans. “This is the first time in my 24 years as Swan Marker that bird flu has hit the Thames — naturally, we are all very upset about the situation.”
An alert was initially sent to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by Swan Support, a rehabilitation center, after they noticed several of the animals near the Queen’s residence at Windsor Castle, west of London, appeared to be ill.
“We found a few dead swans, but we find dead swans all year round,” Wendy Hurmon, director of operations at Swan Support, told CNN. “But then we noticed that some of the other swans did not look very well and we thought ‘something is not right here.'”
After seven swans died in the Queen’s flock, which is actually called a bevy, their remains were analyzed and five were confirmed to have the disease, DEFRA said.
On January 18, DEFRA introduced an Avian Flu Prevention Zone that makes it a legal requirement for anyone who keeps a bird to follow strict protocol and advice to prevent the spread of the disease.
“We are continuing to see cases of bird flu in wild birds across the country which is why, if you keep birds, it is absolutely essential that you do all you can to protect them and help prevent the spread of the disease,” UK Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said in a statement.
Although bird flu is an illness that usually only affects birds, an outbreak in China in October 2017 left 460 people sickened with the disease.
However, scientists said the risk of human-to-human transmission is low.
Barber confirmed to CNN that the outbreak is unlikely to affect the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in Windsor in May.

Tanzania vets condemn burning of Kenyan chicks


Tanzania police incinerated 6,400 one-day-old chicks from Kenya, on suspicion they could spread bird flu. PHOTO | THE CITIZEN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Tanzanian veterinarians have condemned government’s decision to burn 6,400 chicks that were illegally imported from Kenya.

The chicks worth TSh12.5 million were impounded on Monday through the Namanga Border Post in Longido District, Arusha Region.


They were set alight on Tuesday.

Expressing his concern, Executive Director of Tanzania Animal Welfare Society Thomas Kahema said the government had alternative ways of curbing disease outbreak but ignored them.

Northern Zone veterinarian Obedi Nyasebwa cited prevention against  outbreak of bird flu and other diseases as the reason for burning the illegal import.

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Senior veterinarian Medard Tarimo said complaints about chicks smuggling had been rife.

“They are mostly smuggled at night, endangering the health of Tanzanians because we already know of avian influenza, which broke out in neighbouring Uganda.”

But according to Dr Kahema, the best option was to return the chicks to the owner, if the reason was to really protect the outbreak of diseases.

“The decision has slightly dented our image and relation with our neighbours. Nobody expected if they would reach that decision,” he told The Citizen.

The chicks were owned by Arusha-based businesswomen Mary Matia who is still in police custody.

Tanzania banned poultry imports in 2007.

New H7N9 bird flu strain in China has pandemic potential-study

CHICAGO, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Lab experiments on a new strain of the H7N9 bird flu circulating in China suggest the virus can transmit easily among animals and can cause lethal disease, raising alarms that the virus has the potential for triggering a global human pandemic, researchers reported on Thursday.

The H7N9 virus has been circulating in China since 2013, causing severe disease in people exposed to infected poultry. Last year, however, human cases spiked, and the virus split into two distinct strains that are so different they no longer succumb to existing vaccines.

 One of these has also become highly pathogenic, meaning it has gained the ability to kill infected birds, posing a threat to agriculture markets.

U.S. and Japanese researchers studied a sample of this new highly pathogenic strain to see how well it spread among mammals, including ferrets, which are considered the best animal model for testing the transmissibility of influenza in humans.

In the study published in Cell Host & Microbe, flu expert Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues tested a version of the new H7N9 strain taken from a person who died from their infection last spring.

They found that the virus replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets and non-human primates, and that it caused even more severe disease in mice and ferrets than a low pathogenic version of the same virus that does not cause illness in birds.

To test transmissibility, the team placed healthy ferrets next to infected animals and found the virus spread easily from cage to cage, suggesting the virus can be transmitted by respiratory droplets such as those produced by coughing and sneezing.

Two out of three healthy ferrets infected in this way died, which Kawaoka said is “extremely unusual,” suggesting that even a small amount of virus can cause severe disease.

“The work is very concerning in terms of the implications for what H7N9 might do in the days ahead in terms of human infection,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota.

Since 2013, the H7N9 bird flu virus has already sickened at least 1,562 people in China and killed at least 612. Some 40 percent of people hospitalized with the virus die.

In the first four epidemics, the virus showed few changes. But last flu season, there were some 764 cases – nearly half of the 1,562 total.

“The whole world is worried about it,” Osterholm said.

Washington: Bird flu advisory issued in Yakima

October 8, 2017

The Yakima Health District has been informed by the Washington State Department of Health that two bird flocks exhibited at the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima tested positive on September 28 for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).

Image/ National Atlas of the United States
Image/ National Atlas of the United States

LPAI is sub-set of “bird flu” with a low potential to cause serious illness, not the highly pathogenic bird flu that from time-to-time and place-to-place causes large die-offs of wild and domestic birds.

The bird flocks of concern originated from Lewis County, not Yakima County, and are being followed up by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The incubation period for this type of infection is 1-10 days. If any transmission did occur to fair-goers, bird-acquired illness probably would have already occurred and would not occur later than October 10.

Symptoms of bird-acquired influenza include the following: cough, fever, body aches, weakness and fatigue most commonly, but the illness can also include other symptoms like sore throat, runny nose, chills, and difficulty breathing.

In the recent avian flu outbreaks among US poultry, no human infections were identified. Low path avian flu is not infrequently identified among wild waterfowl in the US, again with no known human infections. In this situation, the risk of human infection is likely extremely low.

Deadly Bird Flu Rises Again in China Spreading in Newer Regions

Deadly Bird Flu Rises Again in China Spreading in Newer Regions

This previous year China had the biggest flare-up of a dangerous bird flu since the infection was first recognized in March 2013. For as long as five years, China had been flooding with virsues of H7N9 cases that took a toll around January and February.

Amid the 2017 season, the nation revealed almost the same number of cases as all four previous years’ together, analysts at the U.S. Communities for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday. The infection surged up in more geographic districts as well. Apart this, it hinted at advancing in ways that cause concern. As NPR revealed in April, the infection has grabbed transformations that make it all the more dangerous in poultry and less vulnerable to antiviral therapeutics. According to what virologist Guan Yi told NPR, “Our exploration indicates it can kill every chicken in our lab within 24 hours”. H7N9 isn’t your common bird flu. H7N9 is “the flu infection with the most noteworthy potential pandemic hazard,” as the CDC writes in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. In individuals, H7N9 can cause a serious type of pneumonia and advance into septic shock and organ failures. Although the World Health Organization says, “We are aware of just few individuals who gave flu like side effects and after that recouped without therapeutic consideration”.

Non-contagious Nature to Prevent Flu from Spreading at Large Scale

Amid the 2017 episode, the Chinese government announced 759 instances of H7N9. There were 281 deaths — about 33% of those affected by it. By correlation in 2016 and 2015, the nation revealed 123 and 226 cases, separately. In spite of the fact that H7N9 can possibly develop in a worldwide risk, at this moment it has one serious constraint that confines its capability to spread: The infection doesn’t transmit effectively between individuals. Around 90 percent of individuals find the infection by taking care of poultry.