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[ Also In Global Health News: ART Access In Zimbabwe; Indonesia Bird Flu Deaths; Kenya Floods; Solomon Island Tsunami ]

Also In Global Health News: ART Access In Zimbabwe; Indonesia Bird Flu Deaths; Kenya Floods; Solomon Island Tsunami

Zimbabwe Wants To Boost Access To ART By End Of 2010, Health Minister Says Zimbabwe's government plans work with international organizations to increase the number of people receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to 300, 000 by the end of the year, up from the 180, 000 who currently get the drugs, Henry Madzorera, the country's health minister, said on Tuesday, ZimOnline reports. "The need to improve anti-retroviral drug distribution is on top of government's priority list ... although it is a long process we aim to achieve the target, " Madzorera said (1/6). Indonesia Reports 19 Bird Flu Fatalities In 2009 "Indonesia on Wednesday reported 15 more bird flu fatalities in 2009, taking the [total] human death toll in the country worst hit by the illness to 134, " the Associated Press/New York Times reports.

NexBio Initiates Phase II Trial Of DAS181 Fludase R For Treatment Of Influenza, Including Pandemic Influenza A H1N1

NexBio, Inc. announced the initiation of a double blind placebo controlled multi-center trial in the U.S. and Mexico of DAS181 (Fludase® ) for the treatment of laboratory confirmed influenza infection. DAS181 is an investigational host-targeted drug candidate that blocks entry of influenza virus into cells of the respiratory tract. The trial will assess the effect of DAS181 on influenza viral load as measured by the amount of viral shedding in the upper respiratory tract. In addition, the trial will assess the drug's safety and tolerability and will follow duration of clinical symptoms and global functionality. The study is being conducted at over 50 sites in the U.S. and Mexico. The trial is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and is being monitored by an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board.

New Research Findings Can Improve Avian Flu Surveillance Programs

Genetic analyses of avian influenza in wild birds can help pinpoint likely carrier species and geographic hot spots where Eurasian viruses would be most likely to enter North America, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. Persistence of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 (HPAI H5N1) virus in Eurasia and Africa, and concerns that the virus might be transported among continents by migratory birds has resulted in global surveillance programs. In the United States, state and federal agencies tested more than 326, 000 wild bird samples from across the country from 2005 to 2008. The new work by USGS has nationwide importance because it offers a method for avian influenza surveillance programs to target their efforts for the right species and in the best locations. In the study, USGS scientists conducted the first-ever survey of avian influenza gene variation in a single host species -- the northern pintail -- at each end of the bird's migratory flyway in North America: Alaska and California.

1918 And 2009 H1N1 Flu Probably Not Spread By Birds

The two strains of the H1N1 influenza virus responsible for the 1918 and 2009 global flu pandemics do not cause disease in birds. The results of the study, published in the February issue of the Journal of General Virology, also show it is unlikely that birds played a role in the spread of the H1N1 virus in these pandemics. Scientists from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease (NCFAD) in Winnipeg, Canada, together with collaborators in the USA, injected the 2009 and 1918 H1N1 virus strains individually into chickens. None developed flu symptoms or showed any signs of tissue damage up to18 days later, although about half the chickens developed antibodies against the 1918 H1N1 virus showing limited infection. The 1918 H1N1 virus also did not cause disease in ducks.

Voluntary System Works For Swine Flu Vaccination

Social interaction between neighbours, work colleagues and other communities and social groups makes voluntary vaccination programs for epidemics such as Swine Flu, SARS or Bird Flu a surprisingly effective method of disease control. New research published today, Thursday 11 February, in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society), shows that contact with others can positively influence individuals to choose voluntary vaccination when considering the pros and cons. The group of Chinese researchers found that in scale-free networks - social networks with an uneven distribution of connectedness such as neighbourhoods, work places or gyms - the so-called hub nodes, people with multiple social connections, tend to choose to vaccinate themselves as they are at higher risk of infection from others, thus containing the spread of epidemics.

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