Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WHO says no evidence of China bird flu epidemic

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: The World Health Organisation said Tuesday there was no evidence of a bird flu epidemic in China after a fifth person died of the disease this month, but urged caution over the Lunar New Year holiday. An 18-year-old man succumbed to the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus Monday, bringing to five the number of fatalities from the disease so far this year in China, compared to just three in the whole of 2008.

The number of cases has sparked fears of an epidemic, particularly during this week's Lunar New Year, as hundreds of millions of families across China reunite around huge feasts that include poultry. Peter Cordingley, WHO spokesman for the Western Pacific Region, said there was no need for undue alarm. "What we are seeing is so far within our expectations and broadly matches previous years," he told AFP. "There is no evidence of an epidemic. Also, the China cases are geographically scattered and sporadic, with no sign of any connection between them."

Cordingley urged caution during the biggest holiday of the year in China, saying the mass movement of people and poultry brought a heightened risk of humans mingling with chickens. "(This) is not a situation we are comfortable with, and the increase in consumption of chicken meat presents dangers of people unknowingly handling infected meat," he said. "Members of the public should take every precaution when preparing chicken meat for the table."…

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM), taken at a magnification of 150,000x, revealed the ultrastructural details of an avian influenza A (H5N1) virion, a type of bird flu virus which is a subtype of avian influenza A. At this magnification, one may note the stippled appearance of the roughened surface of the proteinaceous coat encasing the virion. Taken by the paparazzi at the Centers for Disease Control

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