Pregnant Vietnamese Woman dies of Bird-Flu in a “Bird-Flu-Free Province”.

After repeatedly declaring many of its provinces free of Bird-flu, the Government of Vietnam has been forced to admit that H5N1 had been found in some of the Bird-Flu-free provinces.

A Country or a province in a Country is declared bird flu-free after it goes 21 consecutive days without a new case, according to the ministry.

Last week the Government of Vietnam finally informed the global community of nations, that “only three provinces are still plagued by bird flu – Dien Bien in the north, Quang Binh in the center and Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta region.”

That was of course before Bird flu has killed a Vietnamese woman who was seven months pregnant, who died in Ha Tay one of the Bird-flu-Free provinces!

She died in the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi after being admitted from a farm in the northern province of Ha Tay, the largest poultry supplier to the country’s capital.

A doctor in Ha Tay province says there are no bird flu outbreaks in the area where she lived.

Her death brings the death toll in the country to three in less than two months.

Two people — a 20-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman — died in June of avian influenza, the first fatalities announced since November 2005.

Since May, six human cases have been reported here, three of them fatal.

This entire Bird-Flu-free and not Bird-flu-free drama has been played out by the Vietnamese Government, as if it was a Monty Python sketch.

(The following may not have taken place exactly as described below,  but as Monty Python could well have plated it. The overall effect would be the same though.)

“We have got another one!” The  Big Vietnemese Government Boss would shout “From today, at 3 PM exactly, Province number 9 is Bird-Flu-Free!”

A little later, some one would hesitantly whisper “ Sir, Bird-Flu has been found again in the province number 9″

“What! Number 9 again?”  the Big Boss official would thunder, “OK then, the ### Number 9 Province is NOT Bird-Flu-Free at this time”

“Mind you, the province number 9 is free of TB, Cholera and Malaria and many other deadly deceases. It just has a little bit of Bird-flu at this time”

And so on.

It was almost funny to see a Government behave in that way.

I say funny, but you know what I mean.

As I have been saying in this blog for a while, the World Governing bodies such as WHO were apparently OK with this nutty rule of declaring a country free of Bird-Flu, if no new cases were found for a period of 21 days.

Even worse is the rule of declaring a part of a country, such as a province to be bird flu free, if there have been no new cases of the H5N1 found in that particular province.

I ask you, since there are no custom checks or travel restrictions between provinces, how can a province be guaranteed to be free of infection, if the bordering province has H5N1 in its poultry and more importantly, in its wild birds?

The WHO folks have not replied to repeated requests for an explanation for their silence/acquiescence with this less than honest practice.

I had requested a comment from what I consider to be the two top blogs in this subject area, Effect Measure and H5N1 Croftsblogs, to comment on this mad situation.

Did not get a response from Effect Mesure.

Crawford Kilian of the H5N1 did reply.

He is a kind soul and a gentle one at that.

So while he seemed to be able to see the basic problem with the 21 day rule, he did not use his understated, but universally acknowledged authority in any way, to put pressure on the related institutions to rectify or at the very least re examine the this situation.

I would like to ask WHO and all of the great and powerful people, who had such a good time at the Pandemic flu SUMMIT, to re examine the 21 day rule for a country to be declared free of Bird-flu.

More importantly the option to declare part of a country free of Bird-flu needs to be urgently revisited.

Woman selling ducklings in Hoi An market 


Deadly Bird-Flu H5N1 Strain returns to France.

On Sunday night, the dreaded Bird-Flu Virus appeared in France again.

Two swans were found dead Sunday night not far from the location where three swans were killed by the H5N1 virus earlier this month.

The swans were found in a lake at Diane Capelle, in the Moselle region, 9 kilometres from where three swans died of bird flu in early July.

Three swans were killed by the H5N1 strain in Moselle at the start of July – the first such outbreak in France in more than a year.

The French government subsequently raised its alert level to “high”, meaning that birds and poultry in mainland France have had to be locked up or protected by nets to avoid all contact with wild birds.

Moselle’s prefecture extended measures to protect domestic fowl from wild birds that had been put in place after the first case of swan deaths, the statement said.

A wild bird in eastern Germany tested positive for the disease this month. Last month, several wild birds in neighboring Bavaria and Saxony also tested positive.

The H5N1 strain has been found in poultry farms in three other EU countries this year: Hungary, Britain and the Czech Republic.

News Sources:

“USA looking for the Bird-Flu in the wrong place” – Smithsonian Scientist

A top research scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, has suggested that there are huge gaps in the American defences, against the spread of the deadly avian flu virus in the USA.  

The potential for spreading avian flu is 15 times higher among poultry flocks than among wild birds, according to data presented by Peter Marra, a research scientist with the Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoo in Washington.

“While the U.S. does not now allow importation of live poultry, both Canada and Mexico still do. The U.S. also imported 45,000 exotic birds for the pet trade last year, he said.

Mara said that the officials should be paying closer attention to poultry flocks and imported pet birds as possible vectors for avian flu.

Peter Marra told fellow ornithologists gathered at the University of Maine on Saturday, that health and wildlife officials may be focusing too heavily on migratory birds, when looking deadly avian flu virus.

  Marra, a research scientist with the National Zoo’s Migratory Bird Center, said he believes officials should be paying closer attention to poultry flocks and imported pet birds as possible vectors for avian flu.

“Yes, I believe [migratory birds] are contributing, but I believe we have to look at these other pathways,” Marra told attendees of the Association of Field Ornithologists’ annual meeting being held at UMaine.

Marra said he had spent considerable time urging federal agencies, politicians on Capitol Hill and White House officials to broaden monitoring programs for the H5N1 strain of avian flu beyond wild birds.

But so far, Marra does not believe his message is getting through.

“Are we prepared to detect it? I don’t think so,” Marra said.

Marra questioned the usefulness of tests on live birds, explaining that birds infected with H5N1 will either quickly die or develop antibodies to the virus. Instead, officials should be spending more time — and money — testing dead birds, he said.

Toter Schwan

Marra said scientists still do not understand the ecology of H5N1 as well as how the virus might spread through migratory birds. That’s because, while the migratory patterns of some birds are well known, many others are still unclear, he said.

The Smithsonian researcher also strongly criticized some countries’ attempts to control the spread of the deadly avian flu virus by killing massive numbers of wild birds. 

“The culling of wild birds will never prevent the spread of H5N1,” he said. 

Marra’s presentation was one of about a dozen lectures or panel discussions held during the weekend as part of the Association of Field Ornithologists meeting.

The strange death of Bird-Flu rapid response team member.

We have previously addressed in this blog, the “Cull” of the poultry being carried out within the quarantine zone set up by the Manipur State Government around the farm in Chingmeirong in Imphal East, where the recent outbreak was discovered.

As reported, there have been many arrests made of the poultry farmers within the zone who were suspected of trying to flee the quarantine zone with their live stock.

To add to this real human drama, we now have a strange death of one of the “Cullers” responsible for the destruction of the poultry within the quarantine zone.

Disease Prevention Area

A member of the rapid response team of Manipur’s veterinary department, which has been engaged in culling poultry since bird flu was detected in the state last week, died today after reportedly consuming formalin, a solution being used to spray the burial sites of culled birds.

Salam Babuyaima, a 53-year-old grade IV employee of the department, collapsed around 8.30am, when the team was preparing to depart for the day’s culling operations in Imphal East and West districts. He died at Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital an hour later.

Veterinary and health officials, who carried out routine health check-ups of the team this morning, ruled out any connection between his death and avian influenza.

The health officials said Babuyaima was found fit during the check-up.

Culling of poultry started on Thursday, following confirmation the previous day that more than 100 birds had died of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu at a farm in Chingmeirong in Imphal East.

Officials said that before leaving for work today, Babuyaima was asked to keep an eye on the materials collected by his team for the operations.

“He was holding an 800ml bottle of formalin and spray equipment. The team went down with the items from the quarantine while the grade IV employee lagged behind. On being asked, he said he had consumed formalin,” an official statement said.

Babuyaima collapsed on his bed in the quarantine ward and was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he died.

The formalin he consumed was highly concentrated, an official said.

Veterinary and health officials informed chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh who has decided that the post-mortem report would be made public to dispel any fear regarding the cause of the death.

Veterinary director Th. Dorendro Singh also said the post-mortem report would be made public.

Officials are tight-lipped about why the employee consumed formalin. Investigations are on. Culling operations continued today in spite of the incident, however, progress was slow.

While 16,000 poultry were killed by 3.30pm yesterday, only 9,800 were killed by the same time today.

Here is alink to the news Item from the The Telegraph:

Bird-Flu “Cull” in India, destroys Livelihoods.

The virus recently detected in Manipur, North East India, is one of the most worrisome H5N1 strains, which can in rare cases, infect and kill humans, usually those who spend a lot of time around infected birds.

It is understandable therefore, that the State Government has ordered a strict quarantine zone around the infected area.

The authorities have decided to destroy all chickens and eggs within the said quarantine zone.

Health workers have already killed around 25,000 chickens and destroyed thousands more eggs since Thursday to try and contain the virus. They plan to cull 150,000 in all within the quarantine zone by next week.

That is I suppose again the right thing to do, from the point of view of the Government.

For the local farmers though, who are going to lose all of their poultry stock, this is nothing short of disastorous.

It is almost impossible for the western mind, to imagine the kind of poverty that exists in these rural areas.

In most cases, the live stock is the only source of income for these very very poor farmers.

The state government has said it will give farmers 40 rupees (about 60 Cents) for every one of their chickens it has to cull.

However, such declarations by the Government, of compensation for the culling of any live stock, are no comfort for the poor farmers who regularly deal with the official red tape, bureaucracy and corruption.

No wonder that unhappy at the thought of their livelihood being destroyed, some poultry farmers have been trying to escape with their flocks before the “culling party” arrives.

More than a dozen farmers have so far been detained in local police stations until Saturday evening, by which time their flock will be dead, police said.

I dare say some of the fleeing farmers may have escaped capture!

Not sure where my sympathies lie in this case!!!

Here is a link to the news item from Reuters:

“Bird-Flu Panic in India” is not just another Headline Hype.

The Bird-Flu outbreak in the North East state of Manipur is creating havoc with the lives of the residents of the state as the Government launches emergency measures to fight the H5N1 Virus.

Following are a few news reports of the effects that the Bird-Flu outbreak is having in many parts of the country.

manipur_loc.gif (12199 bytes)

In Manipur, the Government has imposed a ban on the sale of Poultry. The police have shutdown all poultry shops.

Most poultry shops in Imphal, the capital of Manipur, including the traditional Murgi Bazar (Chicken Market) of Khwairamband remained closed for the second consecutive day on Friday.

The Manipur poultry farmers are even harder hit with their entire stock of Poultry being taken away and destroyed.

The “panic” seems to have spread to several other states as well, in this vast country.

The State Governments of Orissa, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh Rajasthan and many other states have issued emergency orders to try and prepare for the worse scenario.

There is a great concern in Andhra Pradesh(AP) in terms of an economic loss for the state.

The poultry association is panic struck for they fear a loss of Rs 200 crores (1 Carore is 10000000) a month if egg exports are stopped.

One crore table eggs from the state are exported every month to Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

Due to the bird flu scare last year these countries had banned the eggs from India . The total loss that year was put around Rs 1000 crores.

It is understandable that the poultry trade in that state is scared of a repeat of the same this year

In Punjab (another huge supplier of poultry) the poultry trade was also “consumed by fear” after the news of the pathogenic avian influenza in poultry of Manipur spread.

In Nagaland, right next to the afflicted Manipur, the things are very tense indeed.

The Nagaland Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry held a high-level meeting yesterday and decided to intensify the existing ban on import of poultry and pigs and their products from neighbouring Manipur and Myanmar.

They also decided to carry out fogging (de-infection) on all vehicles entering the State from Manipur at Khuzama and Phesama check gates and asked villagers in nearby areas to co-operate with the government officials.

An alert has also been sounded in Rajasthan.

‘We have sounded an alert and have asked the animal husbandry department officials to remain vigilant,’ Prabhulal Saini, Rajasthan’s Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister told IANS here on Friday.

He said that surveillance teams comprising of veterinary doctors and assistants have been constituted and they have been asked to visit poultry farms and places where migratory birds come. The teams will submit their reports to the animal husbandry department on a regular basis.

The state has a big poultry industry with over 6.3 million birds, out of which the Ajmer district has over 2.5 million birds. Officials of the animal husbandry department said that to save these birds from the disease, the department has decided to inspect all the poultry farms in the state.

There are similar stories from all over the country arriving every hour.


Prices of Chickens and Eggs Crash as Bird-Flu arrives in India.

The outbreak of the H5N1 virus in the extreme North East of India, at the India-Myanmar border, seems to have had an immediate effect on the psyche of the entire country.

 Even though the capital Delhi is over a thousand Kilometres away from the infected area, a day after the government confirmed the outbreak of bird flu, chicken prices fell by over 20 per cent in Delhi’s wholesale market while eggs became cheaper by Rs 8 per 100 numbers at Barwala in Haryana.“The prices fell to Rs 145 per 100 eggs today from Rs 153 yesterday at Barwala,” a poultry farmer said, adding this would influence prices in Delhi as well.Asked about the impact on chicken prices, he said: “The farm gate prices in Delhi declined to Rs 36 from Rs 46 per kg within a day of the announcement of bird flu.”

The poultry industry did not expect the outbreak of bird flu to hit domestic prices of chicken and egg in most of the major consuming centres in the north and other areas as the incident reported from a remote part of the country.

“We are all preying with all of our might that we do not have a human case of Bird-Flu as that would be absolutely devastating to the Poultry Industry in India”, said an official from the Agriculture Ministry, asking not to be named. India has had no human cases of bird flu as yet.

Control and containment measures were initiated after confirmation of Avian Influenza by the Government of India.

A high level meeting of concerned Departments, agencies and local representatives was chaired by the Chief Minister of Manipur, SHRI OKRAM IBOBI SINGH
on 25th July, 2007 in order to determine the strategy for control and containment.

All chickens and other domesticated birds within five kilometres of the Chingmeirong area (where the virus was detected) would be killed to prevent the spread of avian influenza, officials said.The state government, which described the situation as “very serious”, said it would compensate poultry owners. It was estimated that about Rs 60 lakh would be spent for this, the officials said.About 5,000 chicks and adult chickens at the government -run poultry farm in Mantripurkhri on Imphal’s outskirts would come under the knife along with 1.6 lakh birds being reared in private poultry farms.The culling operation would cover 128 small poultry units. Twenty rapid response teams will initially focus on eight villages surrounding the area of infection, said a statement issued by the Union agriculture ministry in Delhi.

Meanwhile, a report from Churachandpur district said that over 200 fowls in a private farm had died some days ago.

Veterinary experts have rushed over to the area, to collect blood samples.

Here is a news item from the Press Trust of India: