China reports two new bird flu outbreaks
Updated: 2005-11-30 07:27
It remains hard for people to catch, but experts fear it could mutate and
become easily passed from person to person, sparking a global pandemic in which
millions could die.
Western investment banks are warning clients of dire consequences for the
world economy if this happens, although there has been little reaction on
financial markets to date beyond a rise in some drug company stocks.
Health experts are examining ways of preventing the virus spreading. In a
study published on Monday, Dutch scientists said vaccinating chickens could stop
the virus from being passed on.
The United Nations advised against culling wild birds, saying the main
concern must be tackling the disease in poultry.
The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued the advice after
reports that wild birds were being killed in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as a
"This is unlikely to make any significant contribution to the protection of
humans against avian influenza," said Juan Lubroth, an FAO official with
responsibility for infectious animal diseases.
QUESTIONS OVER TRANSMISSION
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the possibility of human-to-human
transmission of bird flu in Indonesia could not be ruled out after the deaths of
two brothers of a 16-year-old boy confirmed as Indonesia's 12th human case of
The brothers died on November 11 from similar symptoms days before the boy
from West Java was taken to hospital, WHO spokeswoman Maria Chang said.
They were diagnosed with typhoid fever, but they were never tested for the
deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, leaving questions hanging over the cause of death.
In Brussels, Europe's health chief said he would encourage creating an
EU-wide stockpile of vaccines to contain a major flu outbreak but he preferred
countries to do everything on their own to prepare for the worst scenario.
Speaking after a two-day simulation to test how well the EU would cope with a
wide-scale health scare, especially of influenza, EU Health and Consumer
Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said there was a clear need to
EU member states have drawn up plans to deal with a flu pandemic and organize
national stockpiles or orders for antiviral drugs. Their levels of preparedness
"The issue of antivirals , whether there will be a European stock or not, is
of course a policy decision. But I believe that ... one could find arguments in
favor of such a policy," Kyprianou told a news conference.