No significant change in bird flu virus

16-10-2006 | |
No significant change in bird flu virus

Tests on avian influenza virus sequences in Indonesia indicate that the virus is not mutating towards a more virulent strain that could attack humans and set off a pandemic.

Reports received by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) state that the latest results of sequencing tests on more than 49 virus isolates from poultry on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali show no significant changes or mutation in the characteristics of the H5N1 avian influenza virus which is affecting much of the country.
Indonesia has been facing a major epidemic of avian influenza in poultry since late 2003, and the disease has become endemic in many areas of the country. Currently, a number of campaigns are underway in Indonesia in order to increase public awareness and encourage early disease reporting and investigation with prompt diagnosis and response.
Indonesia recently dispatched 91 virus isolates to the OIE/FAO reference laboratory in Australia. A number of virus isolates collected from April to September 2006 will be shipped at the end of this month for further characterisation, a process which enables close tracking of any mutation in a virus. Such mutations could provide early warning of a possible human pandemic and allow for the development of human vaccines.
OFFLU, a joint FAO and OIE network of reference, and animal and human health laboratories, issued a statement in August, calling on scientists, international organisations and countries to share virus strains and sequences in an effort to speed up control of the spread of H5N1 avian influenza.
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