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This week we start in Turkey, where officials said today that a fourth person had died of bird flu as authorities slaughtered tens of thousands of birds to try to contain the outbreak. Human victims had been confined to East Asia until this month, when three infected children from the same family died in eastern Turkey, showing the deadly H5N1 strain had reached the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
"The test results of Fatma Ozcan who died yesterday were found to be positive," the Health Ministry's bird flu coordination center said in a statement carried by state-run news agency Anatolian. Indonesia said a girl had also died at the weekend of the H5N1 virus.
Mudurnu, about 125 miles east of Istanbul, is Turkey's chicken capital. Besides the ultramodern Mudurnu plant, low-rise chicken houses and rickety coops dot the landscape, reports the Washington Post. A plastic bucket at the entrance of the poultry plant is filled with disinfectant meant to be sprayed on cars that enter from outside, hoping to prevent an outbreak of bird flu.
"We are like a fortress here," said Orhan Ozdemir, a worker at the plant. "We have to protect our chickens at all costs. So far, we have been lucky." During the past two weeks, 4 people have died of bird flu and 19 people have been infected in Turkey, raising fears that at some point the disease, which so far experts believe has been contracted mostly through contact with infected birds, could be passed from person to person.
The issues surrounding the possibility of a pandemic of the H5N1 strain of avian flu are extraordinarily complex, encompassing medicine, epidemiology, virology, and even politics and ethics, comments Henry Miller in the Daily Times. Moreover, there is tremendous uncertainty about exactly when H5N1, which now primarily affects birds, might mutate into a form that is transmissible between humans, and how infectious and lethal it might be.
To be sure, good surveillance is needed in order to obtain early warning that a strain of H5N1 flu transmissible between humans has been detected, so that nations around the world can rapidly initiate a variety of public health measures, including a program to produce large amounts of vaccine against that strain. If a pandemic were to begin relatively soon – say, within a year or two – there would be little that could be done to attenuate significantly the first wave of infections, he says.
The current wave of lethal bird flu in Turkey that has infected at least 18 people began in mid November, more than three weeks before an initial report, the World Organization for Animal Health said.
Outbreaks of the H5N1 avian influenza virus affected birds as early as Nov. 21, Huseyin Sungur, a government veterinary official, said in a Jan. 12 report to the Paris-based organization. Turkey, in a statement on Dec. 27, said outbreaks began on Dec. 15 in Igdir province, bordering Iran. The delay in reporting the outbreak highlights the need to improve early detection and reporting systems to help contain infections, reports Bloomberg.
The European Union has earmarked £57 million to help fight bird flu, which has killed about 79 people worldwide. The money will be pledged next week at an international conference in Beijing dedicated to the battle against avian flu. "Never before has an animal disease posed a threat of such dimension and spread at such a pace," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU external relations commissioner.
"Prevention is better than to cure. A global threat needs a global response."
The money will help countries implement national prevention programs, she said, and funds would be given to countries in eastern Europe and southeast Asia. Over 90 countries will gather in Beijing next week, and the 25 EU member states are expected to make individual pledges. It's a form of self defence," Markos Kyprianou, EU Health Commissioner, said of the pledges.
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In the UK, the BBC asks what the government is doing to protect its population from the threat of Bird Flu. The UK has apparently banned imports of live chickens from Croatia, Turkey, Romania, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa, and North Korea, where bird flu outbreaks have occurred.
The EU has temporarily banned imports of captive birds from outside the union and all imports of poultry products and eggs from Thailand. The importation of various birds and bird products from South Africa is also banned.
Keepers have been advised to keep their birds away from wild birds and to feed and water them indoors. Keepers such as free-range farmers whose flocks normally live outdoors are also being advised to make preparations to bring them under cover if necessary to protect them from infection. Under a newly adopted EU directive, anyone with 50 or more birds is obliged to add them to a national register by the end of February.
Farmers in England will not see their single farm payment until the second half of February at the earliest, reports FWi. The news has emerged in the same week that a farming helpline reported calls were on the rise because of farmers becoming desperate about SFP delays.
The Rural Payments Agency claims it is still on target to begin full payments in February, but it is likely to be toward the end of the month.
Supermarkets have reported a bumper Christmas this year for their premium fresh meat ranges, where sales have more than doubled on some lines to total £60m. Tesco told FWi that demand for British-produced meats like its Finest gammon was up 58% on the year, while Finest beef had seen a similarly impressive growth in sales.
Sainsbury's reported that sales of its Taste the Difference meat range were up 12%. Tesco commercial director Steve Murrells said it was good news for the British farmers that produce the meat, and he urged more producers to aim for the premium end of the market. "The trend for premium foods sourced in the UK is set to continue well into 2006 and beyond as customers become more and more interested in provenance.
The Dutch government wants to vaccinate its huge poultry population against bird flu in the face of growing fears of a major European outbreak, the farm ministry said on Thursday. The deadly H5N1 avian flu virus that emerged in Asia has rapidly spread in Turkey, fuelling fears of a bigger European outbreak. It has killed at least two children in Turkey and infected more than a dozen people in little more than a week.
Bird flu experts recommend preventive vaccination to be considered seriously in the tiny and densely populated Netherlands, where risk is seen higher than in the rest of the European Union because of its huge numbers of poultry. The Netherlands, where land is scarce and canals, rivers and ditches are abundant, is home to 16 million people and 90 million poultry.
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In Cyprus, public health and veterinary officials yesterday confirmed they had a contingency plan in place to deal with contamination swiftly and effectively, as EU governments are on high alert for a possible bird flu outbreak across its borders.
As for criticisms regarding shortages of the anti-viral drug, Tamiflu, which has shown some effectiveness in limiting the flu’s symptoms, the Health Ministry said it was in the process of ordering more and assured it had enough in stock for people who would initially be affected.
Veterinary officer Alexandros Konis said the national contingency plan, which was first drawn up in 2003, revised at the beginning of last year and approved by the European Union, was a detailed account of what steps had to be taken from the moment a poultry farm was suspected of infection.
In the Ukraine, the last several hundred chickens with avian flu have been slaughtered at three poultry farms on the Crimean Peninsula, a national TV channel reported last Wednesday. A total of 100,000 domestic fowl have been slaughtered in Crimea's Primorskoye village. Damage is estimated at about $400,000, the NTN channel said, citing veterinary officials.
Ukrainian Agrarian Policy Minister Oleksandr Baranivsky said grave violations of sanitary rules were to blame for the bird flu outbreak. Chickens were given water from open water reservoirs that lie on migrating birds' way. Criminal cases were opened against farm workers who are accused of negligence.
Romania has found new suspected cases of bird flu in poultry in a region west of the Danube delta, where the deadly strain of the virus was first detected in October, the farm ministry said on Wednesday. The Balkan country has found the highly pathogenic avian flu in 26 villages in and outside the Danube delta, Europe's largest wetlands and a major migratory route for wild birds.
"Preliminary tests taken from domestic birds in the villages of Ciresu and Dudesti in Braila county showed potential signs of the H5 type," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. It said the villages would be quarantined and all domestic birds will be culled. Romania has not recorded any bird flu cases in humans so far.
In the US, "Ground Zero is what's in birds," said Jonathan Runstadler, a University of Alaska molecular biologist who is busy collecting bird droppings to test for signs of bird flu. This snowy patch of the Alaska wilderness sits at the edge of a bird flu outbreak that emerged in Hong Kong in 1997 and has recently spread as far as Kazakhstan, Croatia and Siberia. The virus has ravaged farms in Thailand and felled wild birds from western China to Eastern Europe.
What Americans once viewed as a distant scourge is now just across the Bering Strait. If it arrives in North America, scientists expect to find it first in Alaska, a breeding ground for many migratory birds from Asia.
Reaching new peaks of performance
In Japan, the world's first confirmed human cases of a weaker strain of bird flu are too "risky to ignore", even though none of those affected has health problems, officials warned. The H5N2 strain, a milder form of the H5N1, needs global attention because it could mutate, they said Wednesday.
"There is no health risk for those infected workers, but as long as the virus is a type of H5- strain, it is risky to ignore it," said a researcher at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases. "In the past there was a case that a mild strain eventually transformed to a lethal one for chickens," warned the scientist, who declined to give his name in line with institute policy. The Japanese government said Tuesday that 77 farm workers had been infected with H5N2 after tests on 350 workers and their families at affected chicken farms.
Japanese farm minister Shoichi Nakagawa said Wednesday he wants to see a deal struck with Mexico in fiscal 2006 on a cut in Japanese tariffs on chicken imports from Mexico, Kyodo News reported. The visiting minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries made the remark to Kyodo News after his talks with Mexican President Vicente Fox and other Mexican leaders.
Japan and Mexico have been negotiating specific chicken tariff levels under the bilateral free trade agreement that went into effect last April. Under the FTA, 10 tonnes of duty-free Mexican chicken can enter the Japanese market for the first year. A 10 percent tariff cut will be applied to Mexican chicken imports for the second year.
In Indonesia, the human death toll from bird flu rose to 12 after the World Health Organisation's labs confirmed one more person died from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, a health official said Saturday. The WHO labs confirmed local test results indicating that a 29- year-old Indonesian woman who died last week in a Jakarta hospital had contracted avian influenza.
"We received the confirmation from Hong Kong Last night and it was positive that she died of bird flu," Haryadi Wibisono, a spokesman for the Indonesian health ministry said. The woman died four days after being admitted to the infectious diseases ward of Sulianto Saroso Hospital on January 8. "We have now 17 confirmed cases and 12 deaths, while five others have survived," Wibisono said.
In this weeks Indonesia Poultry & Egg Market, eFeedLink report that chicken prices improve slightly and egg prices are kept high as consumers turn to fresh products, in the week ending Jan 14, 2006. Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has announced that the priority for his economic policies in 2006 is to bring down inflation. High inflation has wreaked havoc, not just on consumers, but also on the business sector of Indonesia, which in turn affected investment, employment and people's incomes.
In Northern Vietnam, 4 village officials were arrested for allegedly inflating the number of poultry they culled while trying to stop the spread of bird flu, a scheme that would have cost the government US$206,000, an official said Saturday.
The officials in charge of the local bird culling effort in Dai Dong commune near Hanoi were taken into police custody Friday, reports ChinaDaily. Vietnam has been hardest hit by bird flu, with more than 40 human deaths. Ngot said the officials allegedly collaborated with poultry farmers to inflate hundreds of thousands of poultry said to have been culled last month.
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In Malaysia, declining costs of raw material corn and soybean for poultry feed and bird-flu free status augur well for the industry's growth nationally and overseas. Analysts said coupled with last month's ex farm chicken price hike of 20 sen per kg, the industry would pick up smoothly after being badly hit by the bird-flu scare in 2004.
“These good conditions will help poultry companies gain between RM2.5mil and RM10.8mil per annum, depending on their monthly production of live chickens,” an analyst said. The ex farm chicken price is currently traded between RM3.60 and RM3.80 per kg. Chicken traders and distributors are not allowed to sell above the RM4kg ceiling price.
Malaysia's largest local integrated poultry company Leong Hup Holdings Bhd has embarked on aggressive expansion plans to boost revenue and market share. Its executive director Datuk Francis Lau Tuang Ngang said the company had set aside some RM40mil for expansion and envisaged its net profit to grow by 15% and 20% for the financial ending March 31, 2007.
Leong Hup will also be setting up a new cooked-food and food-processing plant in Plentong, Johor Baru, and a farm and hatchery in Kelantan this year. “We have acquired a 8.28-acre land in Plentong for RM6.49mil from Ratuan Sutera Sdn Bhd to build our plant,” Lau said, adding that the company had allocated RM20mil for the new plant.
In this regular newsletter section we aim to provide a brief overview of the new Feature articles that have been added to the site over the past week.
We have 3 new features this week
UK Poultry and Poultrymeat Statistics - January 2006
By Defra - This monthly publication combines information from the UK Hatcheries Survey and Poultry Slaughterhouse Survey results together with other Defra statistics, and trade data, pulling all ‘official’ poultry statistics in one publication.
Evaluation of Nipple Drinkers and the Lott System for Determining Appropriate Water Flow for Broilers
By J.M. Cornelison, A.G. Hancock, A.G. Williams, L.B. Davis, N.L. Allen and S.E. Watkins and published by the University of Arkansas's Avian Advice - Unexplainable poor performance can occur from time to time. While production problems can originate from innumerable sources, some common situations should not be overlooked. When management factors are good and birds still perform poorly, it may be time to take a closer look at the feed bins and pans to determine if mold growth is the source of the problem.
The Home Flock
By Tom W. Smith and Robert L. Haynes, Extension Poultry Science specialists, Mississippi State University - The "home flock" usually consists of 20 to 40 chickens kept to supply eggs and an occasional fat hen. An average family of five persons will require about 30 hens. To produce 30 pullets, start with 100 straight-run chicks or 50 sexed pullet chicks. You should purchase pullet chicks only if you want layers.
Ross Breeders - Generations of innovations
That's all for this week!
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