Bird Flu hits Russia, Kazakhstan; Europe may be next

Babbler

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News@Nature.com said:
Bird flu moves towards Europe

Declan Butler
Migratory birds may have caused outbreaks in Russia and Kazakhstan.

The H5NI avian influenza virus has broken out in poultry flocks in Russia and in Kazakhstan, where a suspected human case is also being investigated.

The outbreak hints that the disease is moving towards Europe. Past outbreaks have centred on southeast Asia and, more recently, parts of China. The new incidents risk opening a Eurasian front for the disease, increasing the animal reservoir that could spark a pandemic.

"If we are seeing an expansion in range, that is something we should be concerned about," says Ian Brown, head of avian virology at the UK Veterinary Laboratories Agency in Weybridge, Surrey.

Researchers also worry the outbreak may show that migratory birds are spreading the disease. Avian flu has struck in domestic poultry flocks close to Russia's large Chany Lake, a nesting ground for migrants.

Over the past three months, more than 6,000 birds have died at Qinghai Lake in China, in the first major outbreak of H5N1 in migratory birds1. This has raised fears that birds might spread the virus worldwide, with eyes in particular on those that will fly from their breeding grounds in Qinghai to destinations across southeast Asia and India later this summer.

Early rumours

Suspicions of avian flu in Russia were first raised in mid-July in Suzdalka, a village in the Novosibirsk region. But officials squashed these fears. On 22 July, Alexander Shestopalov, a virologist with the state scientific centre for virology and biotechnology (Vector), told the Russian news agency Interfax that the virus was a low pathogenic strain called H5N2. "This virus is considerably less pathogenic for poultry than H5N1, which is found in Southeast Asia, and is absolutely harmless to humans," he said.

Russia's formal notification to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on 24 July, however, indicated that they had not yet characterized the virus, and knew only that it was an H5 type.

The report also said that preliminary analysis showed that the disease started in a flock that was in contact with infected wild birds. It then spread to eight nearby villages, killing 350 geese, ducks, turkeys and chickens.

On 29 July, the Russian government announced that the birds had H5N1.

A few days later, a poultry worker from the village of Golubovka in Kazakhstan was admitted to hospital with the symptoms of bird flu. And the government confirmed that H5N1 was the cause of an outbreak that had killed 600 geese in that village, although the test results have not yet been formally notified to OIE. Golubovka has been quarantined.

Investigations

The World Health Organization has called for samples in Russia and Kazakhstan to be tested at its laboratories.

They hope to sequence the virus and compare it to viruses from Qinghai, as well as those circulating in Southeast Asia. This should help to reveal if and how the disease is changing and spreading.

Simba Chan, an expert on cranes at the Wild Bird Society of Japan in Tokyo, says it is unlikely that the disease has come to Russia from China, as birds do not usually fly in that direction at this time of year.

Brown suggests instead that the new cases might have spread from undeclared poultry outbreaks in nearby China.

But Juan Lubroth, head of infectious diseases for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says there is still cause for concern over migratory birds. The best thing to do, he says, would be to set up surveillance areas to randomly test wild bird populations. The FAO would need US$20-30 million for such a study, he says.
Well, I think the bird flu hitting Russia and Kazakhstan is more dangerous than Europe. The European have the medical infrasturture to deal with an outbreak, while Russia is already stressed with TB and HIV-ADIS. Bird Flu would just add to the problem.
 

SeleucusNicator

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Russia has a horrid medical infastructure. This is the last thing they need.
 

Winner

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The contemporary problems with bird flu are nothing compared with what will happen after it mutates and becomes highly infectious for humas.

I agree that Europe has medical infrastructure needed to deal with this disease, but China, Russia and other Asian countries don't. It could potentially kill millions.
 

farting bob

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Ive tried to find how many people have been killed by birdflu, and the recent outbreaks in veitnam and SE asia has killed 54 people (very small reletively speaking) and it doesnt seem to spread very easily between birds and humans. It seems its another of those hyped up things that doesnt actually do much compared to many other diseases.
Still, not good by any means.
 

Gabryel Karolin

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Sure. But Im not overly concerned, it has killed less than 100 people during the years its been hyped by media.

EDIT: In other words; I agree with bob :p
 

Winner

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farting bob said:
Ive tried to find how many people have been killed by birdflu, and the recent outbreaks in veitnam and SE asia has killed very few people (reletively speaking) and it doesnt seem to spread very easily between birds and humans. It seems its another of those hyped up things that doesnt actually do much compared to many other diseases.
Still, not good by any means.

We all know that, but this types of viruses are known for their rapid mutation rate. You can wake up some day and realize that the virus mutated into very deadly form almost overnight.
 

Gabryel Karolin

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We could also wake up one day and realize Earth is about to be hit by a giant meteor. Or that Aliens are invading :p . No point thinking too much about it.
 

Babbler

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Gabryel Karolin said:
Sure. But Im not overly concerned, it has killed less than 100 people during the years its been hyped by media.

EDIT: In other words; I agree with bob :p
I disagree; epidemiologists have been warning that a new pandemic, occuring every 25 years or so, it due.
 

bathsheba666

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Babbler said:
The European have the medical infrasturture to deal with an outbreak, while Russia is already stressed with TB and HIV-ADIS. Bird Flu would just add to the problem.

I thought that no-one had the infrastructure to deal with this when it takes hold. afair there is no cure.
 

stormbind

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I am concerned, not about the current Bird Flu, but about possible future mutations of it. Bird Flu might be more comparable to Cow Pox, and it might be just a matter of time before the human-targeting modern equivalent of Small Pox evolves :cry:
 

josephstalin

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SeleucusNicator said:
Russia has a horrid medical infastructure. This is the last thing they need.
Well, I agree that Russian medical system is not the best, but it is working (at least some parts). And I can not imagine a chicagian, who probably only used US medical system, which is severely unfriendly, say that. I find only US dentists better than Russian.If US was in Asia it will be probably alredy hit. Only being on other continent and good carantin measurments save US. But yes nobody needs a bird flu.
 

Gelion

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As far as medical system goes if it has the same funding as Western ones have it will be the best in the world. I am confident that birdflu will be stopped in Russia and China simply because both countries know how to deal with situations like that. Nothing for Europe to worry about.
 

h4ppy

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Babbler said:
I disagree; epidemiologists have been warning that a new pandemic, occuring every 25 years or so, it due.
Thats just saying odds are a random event should have happened by now, not that there is a pandemic mechanism that somehow skipped a beat.
 

Winner

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No. It will come, it is just a question of time. An airborne spread flue even with say 20% fatality would kill millions of people.

Mostly in developing countries with bad medical infrastructure. Imagine the China or India - crowded countries, bad hygiene, bad healthcare, it would spread like fire in oil rafinery. And no aid could stop that.

BTW, I don't want to touch the patriotic feelings of our Russian friends, but Russian healthcare surely isn't even nearly as good as the Western (European - US with their strange health insurance policy is beyond my understanding). Just look at TBC and HIV outbreak. Guess it is just a tip of the iceberg.

A kind of disease we're talking about here would be almost unstopable in Asian countries. They should start preparations, because pandemy is now much bigger danger than... Al-Quaeda, for example ;)
 
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