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H7N2 AVIAN FLU VIRUS

Human cases of bird flu in Britain confirmed

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT


May 29, 2007:

Four persons have tested positive for bird flu after an outbreak of the avian flu virus in a farm in North Wales.

The Health Protection Agency has said it is providing expert support and advice to the National Public Health Service for Wales after an H7N2 avian influenza infection was found in birds on a small farm in north Wales.

It is the first confirmed case of bird flu in Wales.

The Health Protection Agency carried out tests on specimens from nine people associated with the incident – seven from Wales and two were from north-west England. Four of the test results were positive – two of these were from Wales and two were from north-west England.

The H7N2, which is a low-pathogenic strain of avian flu, is different from the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain currently circulating in South-East Asia and Europe for the last one year. In almost all human cases to date, H7N2 infection has generally been associated with a mild disease and the risk to the general public is considered to be very low.

The H7N2 virus does not transmit easily to humans. Worldwide, almost all human H7N2 infections documented so far, including those associated with this most recent incident, have been connected with infected poultry.

According to Pat Troop, chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, the H7N2 avian flu remains largely a disease of birds.

The National Public Health Service for Wales and the Health Protection Agency are following up all close contacts of the individuals who have been ill as a precautionary measure.

The last case of bird flu in Britain was an outbreak of H5N1 in February 2007 at a turkey plant in eastern England. Nearly 160,000 turkeys were then culled as a precaution in the country’s first major outbreak of the potentially lethal virus.

Meanwhile, the United States Food and Drug Administration has announced the first approval in the United States of a vaccine for humans against the H5N1 influenza virus, commonly known as avian or bird flu.

The vaccine could be used in the event the current H5N1 avian virus were to develop the capability to efficiently spread from human to human, resulting in the rapid spread of the disease across the globe.

If such an influenza pandemic emerges, the vaccine may provide early limited protection in the months before a vaccine tailored to the pandemic strain of the virus could be developed and produced.
 

BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT

 

 

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Archive: 7 Jan 2007

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