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
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
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
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
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