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Africa: bird flu virus on the move

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  • Africa: bird flu virus on the move

    Bird flu virus on the move, conference told

    Jun 19, 2007 09:00 AM

    Tanya Talaga
    Health Reporter

    Some African nations are experiencing a rapid spread of the H5N1 virus in poultry while a lack of equipped public health labs, customs surrounding chickens and poor surveillance hamper pandemic plans, a conference on the flu heard yesterday in Toronto.

    In just over a year, Avian flu or the H5N1 virus, arrived in Africa and spread to nine countries, three of which now have human cases, said Dr. Stella Chungong, a medical officer with the World Health Organization Influenza Programme.

    In Nigeria, the H5N1 virus first infected poultry about a year ago and has now spread to 22 out of 36 states.

    There has been one human death from H5N1 in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria. In all of Africa, it’s believed 38 people have become sick with the virus in the last year, according to Chungong, but it’s unclear whether that’s an accurate number because surveillance is poor.

    We really cannot be sure. That is what the system has been able to pick up. When you have a case, you actively go out and try and find other cases,” she said during the Options for the Control of Influenza VI Conference in Toronto, an international gathering of 1,500 scientists dedicated solely to the flu and hosted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The meeting happens every three years.

    - snip -
    “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
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