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Weekly Overview: Worrying Developments on Avian Influenza

19 December 2013

ANALYSIS - The latest figures from the World Health Organization for human cases of H5N1 avian influenza for 2013 show slightly higher numbers than last year, writes Jackie Linden. The same organisation has expressed concern about a first infection in a person of the H10N8 flu strain, particularly as it was reported in China, where there has been a spike in new cases of H7N9 in the last few days.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), so far this year, there have been 38 cases of H5N1 avian influenza A in humans, of whom, 24 have died.

Worst affected has been Cambodia with 26 reported cases, including 14 deaths. There have been four cases (and three deaths) in Egypt, three cases in Indonesia, two each in China and Viet Nam and one case in Bangladesh.

There were slightly fewer cases in 2012 - when there were 32 confirmed cases and 20 deaths - but this virus is showing no signs yet of being beaten.

Since the start of the outbreaks in 2003, 648 human cases have been reported to WHO, of whom 384 have died.

WHO has this week described the first case of a new strain of the avian flu virus - H10N8 - in humans as "worrisome". The victim was a woman in her 70s in the Jiangxi province of China.

Also in China, Guangdong province authorities have warned of a possible outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in the coming months after three new cases were reported this week.

Nepal's Ministry of Agriculture Development has announced it has paid more than NPR211 million to poultry farmers and businesses that have lost chicks, eggs, bird feed and chickens to bird flu in six of the country's regions recently affected by outbreaks of avian flu in poultry.

Turning to other news, a senior economist in France has reported to the country's parliament on prices and margins in food production.

The transition between 2011 and 2012 in retail poultry meat was one of consolidating margins, literally at the expense of producers.

Jackie Linden

Jackie Linden

Top image via Shutterstock

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