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Vietnam bird flu toll rises to 39

FluJun 30 05

A 73-year-old Vietnamese has died from bird flu, taking the country’s toll to 39, 19 of them since the virus returned in December, state-run media reported on Thursday.

The Hanoi resident, one of four people infected by the H5N1 virus being treated in hospital, died on Tuesday after being admitted on June 23, the Lao Dong newspaper quoted hospital officials as saying.

It gave no further details of the patient, and doctors at the hospital could not be reached immediately for comment.

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Flu pandemic could kill half million in US

FluJun 24 05

Half a million Americans could die and more than 2 million could end up in the hospital with serious complications if an even moderately severe strain of a pandemic flu hits, a report predicted on Friday.

But the United States only has 965,256 staffed hospital beds, according to the report from the Trust for America’s Health.

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Cost seen limiting use of flu drug on birds in China

FluJun 23 05

High costs will limit the use of an anti-viral drug to treat Chinese poultry infected with deadly bird flu, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation gave tacit confirmation on Tuesday that amantadine, an anti-viral drug meant for humans, had been used on birds at Chinese farms, a practice that threatens to make the medication useless for fighting human influenza.

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WHO probes China’s reported use of flu drug on birds

FluJun 21 05

The World Health Organisation is seeking clarification from China about reports it urged farmers to use a human antiviral drug to treat birds infected with a deadly strain of avian flu, breaking international guidelines.

Scientists fear the bird flu, which is infectious in birds but does not spread easily among humans, could mutate into a form capable of generating a pandemic in which millions of people without immunity could die.

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EU must prepare now for flu pandemic - commissioner

FluMay 29 05

Europe will almost certainly be hit by an influenza epidemic, possibly a mutation of bird flu which has already killed more than 50 people in Asia, the European Union’s health commissioner said on Friday.

Launching the EU’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in the Swedish capital, Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said EU states must make immediate preparations for tackling such an outbreak.

An “influenza pandemic seems inevitable,” he said.

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China hails bird flu vaccine amid prophesies of doom

FluMay 27 05

China has developed vaccines that block the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu among birds and mammals, Xinhua news agency reported, as scientists in the west warned of a possible global pandemic killing millions.

Scientists fear that avian flu, which is infectious in birds but does not spread easily among humans, could mutate into a form more capable of passing from animals to people.

The H5N1 strain first surfaced in poultry in Hong Kong and China eight years ago and has killed 37 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four in Cambodia.

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Time running out to stop bird flu - experts

FluMay 26 05

It could infect 20 percent of the world’s population, kill many millions and create an economic crisis but scientists say not enough is being done to combat a bird flu virus that could trigger a global pandemic.

The Asian H5N1 virus that first surfaced in poultry in Hong Kong and China eight years ago has killed 37 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand and four in Cambodia.

Global health officials fear it could mutate into a lethal strain that could rival the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 20 and 40 million people.

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Philippines culls 500 parrots on bird-flu fears

FluMay 25 05

The Philippines culled about 500 parrots imported from Indonesia as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the bird-flu virus from other Southeast Asian countries, officials said on Tuesday.

The Philippines, which has remained free of the virus that ravaged poultry farms and killed 53 people across large parts of Asia since late 2003, has banned the import of poultry from countries affected by bird flu.

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China rushes in vaccine after deadly bird flu found

FluMay 24 05

China has rushed more than three million doses of bird flu vaccine to a remote western province after migratory birds were found dead from the H5N1 strain which can be fatal to humans, state media said on Monday.

Poultry across Qinghai province, neighbouring Tibet and Xinjiang, had become the “target of a compulsory vaccination campaign”, the China Daily newspaper said.

Scientists had proved that the virus killed scores of geese in Qinghai in early May, media said at the weekend, the first report of H5N1 detected in China since last year.

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Resveratrol may have anti-flu activity

FluMay 24 05

Resveratrol, a chemical found in red grapes, blocks replication of the influenza virus in cell culture and in animals, Italian researchers report.

“Resveratrol merits further investigation as a potential weapon for combating the growing threat of influenza,” Dr. Anna Teresa Palamara of the Institute of Microbiology in Rome and colleagues conclude.

In cell culture experiments, resveratrol prevented influenza from replicating.

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Bird flu kills Vietnamese, toll hits 18 since Dec

FluMay 24 05

Bird flu may have claimed the life of a Vietnamese man in the past week, bringing the country’s toll to 18 since the latest outbreak in late December, health officials said on Monday.

A provincial health official told Reuters preliminary tests by the Hanoi-based National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology had confirmed the 46-year-old man from the northern province of Hung Yen died last Thursday at a Hanoi hospital from bird flu.

The official said by telephone from Hung Yen, 64 km (40 miles) southeast of Hanoi, that the man was admitted to hospital a week ago with a high fever and coughing.

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Indonesia plans to re-test worker for bird flu

FluMay 18 05

Indonesia is trying to find a poultry worker in the east of the country to test him for bird flu for the second time after the first test was inconclusive, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Authorities are testing specimens from workers at poultry farms as part of a monitoring programme put in place after the potentially deadly disease emerged in Indonesia in late 2003.

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Asian states hampering bird flu checks - UN agency

FluMay 13 05

A top U.N. agency official accused Asian nations of blocking proper monitoring of the deadly bird flu virus by giving too few samples to scientists, but denied a charge that his own agency was failing to share specimens.

The head of the Animal Health Service of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said countries were failing to export samples of the H5N1 bird flu virus that has killed more than 50 people in Asia since 2003.

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England, Wales in grip of mumps epidemic

FluMay 13 05

England and Wales are in the grip of a mumps epidemic affecting mostly adolescents and young adults, scientists said on Friday.

More than 5,000 cases of the disease, which causes swelling and pain in one or both of the salivary glands, have been reported in the first five months of 2005.

Last year there were 16,436 sufferers - four times as many as the previous year.

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Health officials unsure about flu vaccine

FluMay 05 05

The flu vaccine supply for the upcoming 2005-2006 influenza season is still uncertain, with one maker racing to fix a closed factory and others trying to win new U.S. licenses, health officials said on Wednesday.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration official said Chiron Corp. was still working on its facility in Liverpool, England, while GlaxoSmithKline was trying to get approval to supply the U.S. market for the first time.

Last October, Chiron’s license was suspended just at the start of flu season, with a loss of 48 million doses of vaccine - half the anticipated U.S. supply. The U.S. government scrambled to get together enough doses to cover those at risk of dying from influenza and ended up with 61 million.

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