Of Bird Flu, Vietnam and the 1st of March!

Bui Ba Bong, the deputy minister of agriculture and rural development for the Government of  Vietnam has announced, that as of tomorrow, First of March, farmers are permitted to resume hatching and raising water fowl nationwide, including ducks, geese and swans.

The ban on the above activities was placed in Vietnam almost three years ago, after the bird flu epidemic was discovered in Vietnam’s poultry in early 2004.

The ban has been lifted, even though some officials have warned the local authorities in northern regions of Vietnam, to stay on full alert as the area is experiencing cold, wet weather – favorable conditions for bird flu to re-emerge.

What I would really like to know though, is the following.

Did the date selected for the resumption of hatching and raising water fowl by the Government of Vietnam, have any thing to do with the fact that the 1st of March is also the beginning of the Bird Migration season?

See this From Dow Jones Newswires:

“the Nordic countries will raise the risk level regarding bird flu outbreaks to medium as of March 1, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration said Wednesday.  The raised risk level is due to the start of the migration season, which last year brought with it infected birds to the region.”

Could it be that Bird Flu experts in Vietnam did not know the significance of this date?

Are there any conspiracy theorists who would like to tell us what this could be all about?

Disclaimer- The above post is only half serious and could well include an attempt at a bit of humor- well a kind of humor any way.

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Nordic Countries to raise Bird Flu risk level from 1st of March!

Now they are saying that all of the recent Bird Flu activity was just a sample and not the real thing!

It seems that the Bird Flu Migration season is yet to start next month when the risk of Bird Flu goes higher!!

Malin Rising, writing for the Dow Jones Newswires, says that all of the Nordic countries will raise the risk level regarding bird flu outbreaks to medium as of March 1, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration said Wednesday. 

The raised risk level is due to the start of the migration season, which last year brought with it infected birds to the region.  

Among other things, the change means poultry and other birds kept outdoors need to be kept under cover and can’t be fed with water from lakes or streams.

Full article Via the Cattlenetwork, at www.birdflubreakingnews.com 

H5N1 virus in all the countries around them, but no Bird-Flu in Iran!

No case of bird flu has been detected in the city of Amol in northern Mazandaran province, said Minister of Health Kamran Baqeri Lankarani on Monday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a local meeting, Lankarani denied recent reports the deadly bird flu H5N1 virus had invaded the city.

“No human or bird casualty from the bird flu virus has been reported in the city,” Lankarani stressed.

Although neighboring countries of Iran such as Turkey, Pakistan and Iraq were hit by the H5N1 virus, “Iran remains free of bird flu,” Lankarani said.

He expressed appreciation for efforts of Iranian officials, particularly those of the country’s veterinary organization, to prevent an outbreak of the virus in the country.

Citing such efforts, he said special medical teams have been stationed in border areas and local border markets following announced outbreaks in neighboring countries have been closed.

He said that public information programs to inform people of means to avoid infection and spread of the virus have been conducted.

Source of the Bird-Flu in UK not found but “investigation Complete”!

The British Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said in a press statement today, that it has completed the first stage of it’s investigation in the outbreak of Bird Flu in Suffolk .

This is apparently so, even though the statement from the Brit agency does not provide any clue as to the cause of the outbreak of the Bird Flu.

Our UK reporter tried to speak to the EPA today but was told that there was no one who could help him at the time.  

The Agency alongside local NHS public health colleagues, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Bernard Matthews has offered antiviral drugs to 480 people and 310 of those have so far received seasonal flu vaccination.

The local Health Protection Unit continues to monitor the situation locally working together with Defra and Bernard Matthews.

As a precautionary measure only a small number of workers who are involved in the cleaning and decontamination process are continuing to take antiviral medications.

The Agency has carried out testing on a total of six people who developed flu like symptoms. Three of these people met the Agency’s criteria for testing and three others were tested as a precautionary measure. All six patients tested negative for avian flu, and received appropriate medical care.

Dr Jonathan Van Tam , a flu expert at the Agency, said : “The risk of any workers testing positive for avian flu has been and remains very low as they have followed all the necessary precautions in terms of protective clothing and hygiene measures, and have been offered antiviral drugs.”

The Agency also concluded that the risk to food processing workers and other personnel working in around the food processing plant as being very low and as a result they didn’t require any antiviral treatment.

Bird Flu, Big Brother and the Bollywood Chicken!

The winner of the last Brit Big Brother and the Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, famously undercooked a chicken for her housemates, leaving it “pink” from the inside.

Now there is a growing concerns that some of the millions who watched the show may emulate her and not fully cook poultry at home.

What with the Jade Gooddy problem and all that, the Big Brother does not need any of its fans catching the Bird Flu via undercooked meat, from potentially infected poultry.

This is specially worrying, in view of the fact that the Brits have admitted that “the H5N1 virus could have already entered the human food chain” following the recent outbreak of Bird Flu at the turkey factory farm in the UK. 

Now, even Yemen is “free” of Bird Flu!

In a news item from SABA, Majid alJuneid, the Deputy Minister of Public Health and Population, for primary health care sector in Yemen, has affirmed that Yemen is free of Bird Flu and that there is no case registered either on people or birds.

Al-Juneid explained to SABA that the Yemen government had exerted considerable efforts to track this world disease.He said that the Government had set up TWO OPERATION ROOMS in the health ministry and the ministry of agriculture, to watch this epidemic across the country.In addition, they had equipped five labs, in different governorates, to receive such cases, if found, and treat them.

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 “To receive such cases”? What cases? I thought that Yemen was “Free of Bird Flu”!

Why is it that the Governments HAVE to make such silly statements?

Every country,  in the entire world is free of bird flu, until that is, an infected case appears in that country.

To say that a country was free of bird flu, one would have to guarantee, that not only was there no current H5N1 infection in the domestic or the wild birds and mammals (not an easy thing to do) but also, that no infection would appear any where in that country, for a given period of time!

Let say that a reasonable period of time for such an assurance, is one year. 

Can Majid alJuneid, the Deputy Minister of Public Health and Population, for primary health care sector in Yemen, assure us that Yemen is “free of bird flu” for at least a period of one year?

If not, then should he make a statement like that? 

Similar statements have been made by other countries in the past (with a deafening silence from the WHO signifying its approval of the said announcements) only to find that the H5N1 virus appeared in that country shortly after that. 

Revere, in his blog Effect Measure, describes the repeated assurances from officials of the WHO and other experts, that the “bird flu outbreak in Russia would fade away in two weeks”.

He names this “no-bird-flu-in-two-weeks” guesstimate by the experts, as a KISELYOV.

How about a definition of an entire country that is free-of-bird-flu?

Pakistan to export Bird Flu to India?

The long and porous border between India and Pakistan, could now be the route taken by the dreaded Bird Flu virus, making its entry in to India from its H5N1 infested neighbour.

India is gearing up to tackle bird flu after neighbouring Pakistan reported cases of the deadly virus.

‘We are watching the situation closely and have asked the poultry industry to take certain protective measures,’ said Prabhulal Saini, Rajasthan’s agriculture minister.

‘At present, there is no reason to worry,’ Saini told IANS.

(well he would wouldn’t he?)

Though no case of avian flu had been reported yet from any part of the state, the government had ‘stepped up surveillance along the border and asked bird keepers to report any case of death or disease in any of the birds’, the minister said.

According to Saini, surveillance teams comprising veterinary doctors and assistants had been constituted to visit poultry farms and places where migratory birds arrive. The teams are to submit their reports to the animal husbandry department on a day-to-day basis.

‘Surveillance teams have started collecting blood samples at random in poultry farms.’ Said Saini.

(Even though “‘At present, there is no reason to worry”)

The highly pathogenic avian influenza -, caused by the contagious H5N1 virus, has resurfaced in several countries, including Pakistan, since the start of 2007.

Though the H5N1 infection in Pakistan was contained, a further spread of the virus through wild birds is not ruled out.

 This has also poses a threat to India.

Every year in winter, the desert state receives thousands of birds from all over the world.

The Keoladeo bird sanctuary – once the royal hunting preserve of the princes of Bharatpur – usually gets 400 species of water birds. However, this time the numbers were less due to scarcity of water. It is the birds migrating to India from other countries that are especially risky, say experts.(such as Pakistan?)

 The state also has a big poultry industry with over 6.3 million birds, of which Ajmer district accounts for over 2.5 million birds.