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.

Deadly Bird Flu In China Evolves, Spreads To New Regions

A patient with the H7N9 avian flu is treated in a hospital in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province, in February of this year. The 2017 outbreak was the deadliest in China since H7N9 first appeared in humans in 2013.

AFP/Getty Images

This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013.

For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February.

During the 2017 season, the country reported nearly the same number of cases as all four previous years combined, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Thursday. The virus cropped up in more geographic regions. And it showed signs of evolving in ways that cause concern.

As NPR reported in April, the virus has picked up mutations that make it more deadly in poultry and less susceptible to antiviral treatments. “Our research shows it can kill all the chickens in our lab within 24 hours,” virologist Guan Yi told NPR.

H7N9 isn’t your run-of-the-mill bird flu. H7N9 is “the influenza virus with the highest potential pandemic risk,” the CDC writes in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In people, H7N9 can cause a severe form of pneumonia and progress into septic shock and multiorgan failure. “We know of only a small number of people who presented with influenza-like symptoms and then recovered without medical attention,” the World Health Organization says.

During the 2017 outbreak, the Chinese government reported 759 cases of H7N9. There were 281 deaths — about a third of those infected. By comparison in 2016 and 2015, the country reported 123 and 226 cases, respectively.

Although H7N9 has potential to evolve in a global threat, right now it has one severe limitation that restricts its potential to spread: The virus doesn’t transmit easily between people. About 90 percent of people catch the virus by handling poultry.

But person-to-person transmission is possible. During 2017, there were 14 clusters of cases in which a person passed the disease to at least one other person.

Since March 2013, there have been 1,557 cases of H7N9 reported worldwide. All infections were caught in China, Hong Kong or Macao. Nearly 40 percent of those infections were deadly.

Philippine leader feasts on chicken to allay bird flu scare

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ate grilled chicken, duck and eggs with other officials on Monday to help allay fears caused by the country’s first large outbreak of avian flu.

Accompanied by his health and agriculture secretaries and other officials, Duterte traveled to northern Pampanga province and feasted with his bare hands on the poultry, spread on banana leaves in a traditional feast in front of journalists and TV cameras.

“If it’s really your time, it doesn’t matter what you eat,” Duterte told the audience in jest.

 Authorities killed more than 600,000 chickens, ducks, quails, pigeons and game fowls at the height of the outbreak this month in poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija provinces, causing a drop in prices and consumption along with misery for farm owners and workers.

“I assure the public that the poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are safe for consumption,” Duterte said. He announced financial aid and loans to help affected businesses and workers recover.

Duterte thanked more than 300 soldiers and policemen who helped contain the outbreak.

Philippine agricultural officials said tests by an Australian laboratory showed the avian flu strain in Pampanga’s hard-hit town of San Luis was H5N6, a type that was discovered in China in 2005 and can be transmitted to humans.

The rate of past transmissions to humans, however, was very low, they said. More than 40 people were suspected of having been infected because of flu-like symptoms, but all tested negative for the virus, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said.

Health officials, however, will continue surveillance in affected towns until early next month, she said.

Bird flu a concern in fight to save Philippine Eagle

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News
Aug 22 2017
This handout photo taken on December 9, 2015 and released by the Philippine Eagle Foundation shows a 3-day old hatchling at the eagle center in Davao City. AFP

MANILA – Exposing the endangered Philippine Eagle to bird flu is a “big risk,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said Tuesday, as the government moved to contain the outbreak in 3 Luzon towns.

Dominguez hails from Davao City, home to the a conservation center for the monkey-eating raptor. He is also former chairman of the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

“You know what really my concern is with the bird flu? It’s the Philippine Eagle. If the bird flu goes there, we may have to kill all the eagles,” Dominguez said.

Hundreds of thousands of chickens, ducks and other birds have been slaughtered in the towns of San Luis, Pampanga and Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, where cases of avian flu were reported.

The affected towns were quarantined and authorities banned the shipment of birds and poultry products from Luzon to other parts of the country.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said on Monday that there have been no confirmed cases of bird flu in Mindanao, where the Philippine Eagle sanctuary is located.

Conservationists estimate there are about 800 Philippine Eagles remaining in the wild, though it is impossible to count accurately due to their remote habitats. International conservation groups say there could be as few as 250 left.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia earlier said the agriculture industry was “buoyant” and could weather the outbreak of the disease.

Philippine troops to help cull thousands of fowl in bird flu battle  

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines will deploy hundreds of troops to hasten a cull of about 600,000 fowl, the farm minister said on Wednesday, as part of efforts to rein in the Southeast Asian nation’s first outbreak of bird flu.

There has been no case of human transmission after the flu was detected on a farm in the province of Pampanga, about 75 km (47 miles) north of the capital Manila, but it has spread to about 36 other farms and nearly 40,000 birds have died.

“I have asked the Philippine army to provide us with additional warm bodies to help us in depopulating the farms,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol told a news conference.

“Six hundred thousand is no mean job. Our personnel are facing a difficult task and we lack people.”

Pinol said the government had about 200 men in the area, but fewer than 20,000 birds had been culled since the outbreak was reported.

Brigadier-General Rodel Mairo Alarcon said at least 300 soldiers would be sent to the province on Thursday to assist in the cull of chicken, quail and ducks.

“The Philippines army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines is 100 percent in support of this effort,” Alarcon said.

Soldiers will be given protective gear and doses of a drug, Tamiflu, to guard them against possible infection.

Two sick farm workers from the area have tested negative for the virus, health ministry spokesman Eric Tayag said.

Although the health ministry has yet to identify the specific strain of the virus that hit the Philippines, health and farm officials say initial tests have ruled out the highly pathogenic H5N1.

Samples are being sent to Australia for further testing to determine the presence of the N6 variety of the strain.

The Philippines is the latest country in Asia, Africa and Europe and Africa to suffer the spread of bird flu viruses in recent months. Many strains only infect birds, but the H7N9 strain has led to human cases, including deaths, in China.

Reporting by Roland Ng and Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez

Davao’s eagle sanctuary closes amid bird flu outbreak

 / 12:45 PM August 15, 2017

Philippine Eagle Center in Baguio District, Davao City. PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION

DAVAO CITY—The Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District here will be closed from August 15 to August 16 to assess the health status of its birds at the height of the avian flu outbreak.

“The avian flu outbreak poses a grave threat to the Philippine eagle population. This is to allow our team to set up necessary emergency measures and ensure the safety of the Philippine eagle and other raptors in the facility,” The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) said in a statement.

The PEF also said that they have yet to establish if this closure will be extended.

The PEF and its center, an 8.4-hectare area is located at the foothills of Mt. Apo and situated within the Malagos Watershed, is home to 27 captive-bred eagles and other raptors and other species.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed the avian influenza outbreak in San Luis, Pampanga. The DA has marked at least 132,500 birds in San Luis for extermination. JPV

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