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  • Avian flu spreads in Romania; FAO to air role of wild birds

    first_imgMay 25, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Eleven new outbreaks of avian influenza in birds were reported in Romania today, as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) prepared for a major conference on the role of wild birds in spreading the virus worldwide.Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today that the discovery of 11 more outbreaks means 56 outbreaks have been found in Romania since the virus reemerged there 12 days ago. The report did not list the locations of any of the latest outbreaks.Avian flu first turned up in Romania in backyard poultry flocks starting last October. The recent outbreaks have involved some large commercial farms and some poultry in Bucharest, the capital, triggering quarantine orders for some neighborhoods this week.Today’s AFP report quoted Marius Dobrescu of the Bucharest mayor’s office as saying, “Overnight Wednesday 200 people in the fourth district of Bucharest were placed under quarantine, taking the number of isolated inhabitants in the Romanian capital to 400.”On May 22 city officials had imposed a quarantine on more than 13,000 people in the southern fourth district of the city, but the city reopened most of that area the next day.According to AFP, Romania’s health ministry today announced a lifting of the quarantine nationwide. But Dobrescu said the quarantines in Bucharest would not be lifted unless the city received written instructions.Earlier this week, a Romanian intelligence service report blamed turkeys imported from Hungary for spreading the virus. But top Romanian officials have disavowed the report and sharply criticized the intelligence service for it.Meanwhile, China this week reported two outbreaks of avian flu among migratory birds in its northwestern reaches. The agriculture ministry said yesterday that 399 bar-headed geese and ruddy shelducks had died of the virus in Tibet’s Naqu district and in the Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in neighboring Qinghai province, according to an AFP report published yesterday.The ministry said the separate outbreaks were linked by a migration route. The same route also linked two other recent outbreaks in the region, in which 123 birds had died, the story said. Officials said the area is thinly populated and has no poultry farms.Conference to focus on wild birdsThe role of wild birds in spreading H5N1 will be the focus of a major conference scheduled for May 30 and 31 in Rome by the FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).About 300 scientists from more than 100 countries will attend the meeting to deal with the controversy over the role of wild birds versus domestic birds, the FAO said in a statement today.The problem at the heart of the controversy, said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech, is that no one knows whether wild birds can serve as long-term reservoirs of highly pathogenic avian flu viruses such as H5N1.”Where they are not reservoirs but only victims of contamination from poultry, then prevention has to remain at the domestic bird level,” Domenech said. “But where they are, we have to find out which birds are involved and where they migrate to in order to prevent other wild birds and poultry being infected.”Jan Slingenbergh, senior animal health officer at FAO, said he expects there will be no clear conclusion as to whether wild or domestic birds spread avian flu to new areas. “The answer is it’s a mix,” he said.In most European countries where the virus has appeared, it has been in wild birds, he said. In East Asia, the virus was probably spread by a combination of wild and domestic birds, while in Africa it appears that poultry trade has been mainly responsible, he added.How the virus might reach USIn related news, US wildlife officials are predicting that when H5N1 avian flu comes to the United States, it will most likely arrive aboard wild swans flying across the Bering Strait or exotic birds brought in by smugglers, according to an Associated Press (AP) report published today.H. Dale Hall, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said swans are a good bet because they were the first birds found with the virus in many European countries. But he also said there’s a good chance the virus could ride in on smuggled birds or other wildlife.State and federal agencies in Alaska recently began testing wild birds for the H5N1 virus. The first 1,300 tissue samples from migratory birds in Alaska are due to arrive at a US Geological Survey laboratory in Madison, Wis., for testing later this week, the AP reported. They come from a subsistence hunt by native Alaskans.The story said testing duties will be shared by the Madison lab, which will check the hemagglutinin (H) type, and the US Department of Agriculture lab in Ames, Iowa, which will determine the neuraminidase (N) type.See also:May 25 FAO statement about upcoming conferencehttp://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000306/index.htmllast_img read more

  • Asia stocks set to fall on Fed’s dour outlook

    first_imgAustralian S&P/ASX 200 futures were down 1.08 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures fell 1.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures were 0.31 percent lower.The S&P 500 and Dow Jones benchmarks both moved between gains and losses after the Fed statement, which was the first projections from the US central bank on the economy since the coronavirus outbreak.An S&P index of bank shares, which tend to benefit from rising rates, fell 5.8 percent in its biggest daily percentage decline since April 15, and the S&P 500 financial index was the biggest drag on the benchmark index.“The broad downgrade in banking stocks came as the market wasn’t sure what the extent of their loan loss provisions would be,” Cox said. Asian stocks were set to fall on Thursday after gloomy economic projections from the US Federal Reserve sent the greenback and most Wall Street shares lower.Fed officials at their policy meeting on Wednesday said US gross domestic product is expected to decline 6.5 percent this year. They also flagged the need to keep the key interest rate near zero through at least 2022.“The Fed is basically saying they’re going to keep the system solvent and at the macro level there’s no room for failures but at the micro level there’d be some businesses that won’t survive,” said Jamie Cox, Managing Partner at Harris Financial Group. The Nasdaq benchmark, however, continued its record-breaking rally for the third consecutive session helped by gains in shares of Microsoft and Apple, with investors viewing technology as a defensive sector with massive growth opportunities, Cox added.On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.04 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.53 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.67 percent.The dollar fell to a three-month trough against the euro, sterling and Swiss franc after the Fed’s pledge to keep monetary policy loose until the US economy is back on track.The greenback fell about 0.4 percent against a basket of major currencies to 95.882 after earlier sliding to 95.714, a level not seen since mid-March.The euro rose as high as US$1.1422 and sterling reached $1.2812, with the dollar hitting a three-month low of 0.9425 franc versus the Swiss currency.US Treasury yields fell as the Fed promised to maintain monthly bond purchases at “the current pace” of about $80 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in agency and mortgage-backed securities.Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields fell 9 basis points to 0.744 percent. Two-year yields, which are the most sensitive to rate changes, fell 3 basis points to 0.177 percent.Oil rebounded from earlier losses, even as US data showed crude inventories rose to a record high, reviving worries of a persistent glut due to weak demand.Crude stocks rose by 5.7 million barrels in the week to June 5 to 538.1 million barrels, according to a US Energy Information Administration report. [EIA/S]Brent crude settled up 55 cents to $41.73 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 66 cents to $39.60 after falling more than 2 percent in the session.Topics :last_img read more