[FoRK] Duck, Duck, Goose

Regina Schuman rschuman
Wed Nov 16 12:43:12 PST 2005


<The announcement, which provided no further details, was posted on the
Web site of Xinhua, the official news agency, a day after China's
Agriculture Ministry said that it would inject all of the nation's 5.2
billion chickens, geese and ducks with a vaccine against bird flu.

That campaign, disclosed by the official New China News Agency, would
be the largest single vaccination effort ever for any species, according
to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. It
promises to be logistically complicated, not least because it entails
chasing and catching billions of free-range birds. The Agriculture
Ministry did not provide a timetable.>

"logistically complicated" deserves an animated two-fingers quote
motion.

and yea, a great plague was called down upon them, and they were driven
hilly-nilly.

G

NY Times
By KEITH BRADSHER and ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
Published: November 16, 2005

BEIJING, Nov. 16 - China's Ministry of Health today confirmed three
human cases of bird flu, including two in central China's Hunan Province
and one in east China's Anhui Province.

The announcement, which provided no further details, was posted on the
Web site of Xinhua, the official news agency, a day after China's
Agriculture Ministry said that it would inject all of the nation's 5.2
billion chickens, geese and ducks with a vaccine against bird flu.

That campaign, disclosed by the official New China News Agency, would
be the largest single vaccination effort ever for any species, according
to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. It
promises to be logistically complicated, not least because it entails
chasing and catching billions of free-range birds. The Agriculture
Ministry did not provide a timetable.

Dr. Qi Xiaoqiu, the director general of the department for disease
prevention and control at China's Health Ministry, said at a news
conference on Tuesday that it was "highly probable" that a boy and a
girl who suffered high fevers last month - the girl died - had been the
country's first human cases of bird flu. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
warned last week that China faces a "very serious situation" as it seeks
to control the virus.

At any one time, China has about 4 billion chickens and 1.2 billion
ducks and geese, but even those numbers understate the size of the
vaccination task. The country consumes about 14 billion domestically
grown chickens, ducks and geese every year.

Dr. Qi said that three-fifths of the poultry in China was kept by
families, who let the birds and other domesticated animals wander around
the neighborhood and the yard and often through the house. Constant
close contact between animals and people is worrisome because birds and
pigs can carry the H5N1 bird flu virus and may transmit it to people.

"People raise pigs and people keep birds just like Americans keep
dogs," Dr. Qi said. "Those pigs and birds are part of the family. It is
a kind of self-sufficient, outmoded production method."

Dr. Qi and Roy Wadia, a World Health Organization spokesman here, said
on Tuesday there had been no sign yet of human-to-human transmission of
bird flu, a critical ability the virus needs to develop if it is ever to
cause a human pandemic.

In an interview at the same conference at which Dr. Qi spoke, an
American official who insisted on anonymity said before the Chinese
announcement that migratory birds were likely to spread flu to poultry
in the United States at some point.

Kristen Scuderi, the Agriculture Department's deputy press secretary,
said the United States had 40 million doses of bird vaccine in stock and
another 30 million doses in production, which would be used to create a
barrier zone around an area with a severe outbreak. "The initial
response is culling, but if the outbreak was really egregious we might
go into the stockpile," she said. Some outbreaks have resulted in the
deaths of millions of birds.

China reported 50 outbreaks of bird flu in 16 provinces last year, and
has reported 11 more to international health agencies this autumn,
including 2 more small outbreaks reported on Tuesday. Poultry infections
have been especially severe this autumn in Liaoning Province.

The official New China News Agency reported last week that a fake flu
vaccine, possibly including active virus, may have actually spread the
disease instead of preventing it, although there has been no suggestion
that this occurred elsewhere.

"The harm is incalculable," said Jia Youling, the chief of the
veterinary department at China's agriculture ministry, according to the
news agency.

China has also developed its own version of Tamiflu, an antiviral drug,
and is preparing to produce it in large quantities if a human pandemic
occurs, official news media said. There is no human vaccine against bird
flu because it is impossible to predict the form the virus will take if
it develops the capacity for human-to-human transmission.

Veterinary experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization's
headquarters in Rome said that more information was needed to assess the
wisdom of China's decision to vaccinate all poultry.

"With the recent multiplication of outbreaks in China they have now
decided on countrywide vaccination, but at this point we cannot say if
such a massive program is either possible or advisable," said Joseph
Domenech, chief of Veterinary Services. He added that if any country can
carry out such a program, "China can do it."

Bird vaccination campaigns involve a huge amount of manpower because
the animals must be injected one by one. The Food and Agriculture
Organization normally recommends such large-scale programs only in areas
where the H5N1 bird flu virus has become endemic - places where it
persists in the environment and where culls and quarantines have proved
ineffective.

Parts of Vietnam and Indonesia fall into this category, and widespread
vaccination programs have controlled flu among poultry in some areas.
Dr. Domenech said he had seen no evidence that this was true for all of
China.

Bird vaccine has been widely available for several years. Costing
merely 10 cents a dose and produced by a dozen manufacturers, it is
nearly 100 percent effective. China's Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday
that it was producing 100 million doses a day, a figure that Dr.
Domenech said was plausible.

The difficulty with the bird vaccine, particularly in Asia, is
organizational: Veterinary workers must go village to village and door
to door, since most poultry in this part of the world is kept on small
farms and in backyards.

In most parts of Asia, the vaccine is administered in endemic areas and
in areas surrounding outbreaks that have been controlled by culls. The
vaccine is also given to poultry in areas where wild birds are known to
be infected.

The Chinese have given no indication that H5N1 virus is widespread in
their country, and have said that all outbreaks this autumn have been
brought under control.

The vaccine is not recommended for use in birds in Europe or North
America, as bird flu is still rare in Europe and has not been seen at
all in the United States. In such places, the preferred method for
stamping out the disease is culling birds for a radius of up to a few
miles around the outbreak and quarantining poultry in a wider area for
several weeks.

"The vaccine may be appropriate in Asia, but our first response would
definitely be culls and quarantines," said Philip Tod, spokesman for the
European Union's health department.

In the last month, Europe has experienced its first outbreaks - in
Turkey, Romania and Croatia. All have been controlled in this manner.
Mr. Tod said no European governments are currently stockpiling vaccines
because they can be produced relatively easily and quickly.  



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