Bird flu more infectious than first thought

13th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

13 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — More than 1,000 people were infected with the avian flu virus last year during an epidemic in the Dutch poultry industry, a government agency revealed Wednesday.

13 October 2004

AMSTERDAM — More than 1,000 people were infected with the avian flu virus last year during an epidemic in the Dutch poultry industry, a government agency revealed Wednesday.

The Government Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) said the number of infections was higher than previously estimated. The spread of the virus from human to human also occurred more often than initially suspected, Dutch public news service NOS reported.

Of the estimated 1,000 people infected, some 453 complained of health problems. Most complaints were related to conjunctivitis. One veterinarian died as a result of becoming infected with the avian bird flu.

About half of the 500 people who had direct contact with infected poultry during the epidemic were found to have antibodies in their body against the avian virus.

The RIVM research — conducted in co-operation with the Institute for Psycho Trauma on assignment of the Health Ministry — primarily investigated poultry farm owners and family members in the areas affected by the epidemic.

Earlier research had found that the avian virus was more infectious that initially thought, but exact figures had not been confirmed, news agency ANP reported. Poultry owners were also found to be suffering from stress, exhaustion and depression.

The RIVM said the anti-virus drug oseltamivir offered protection against the avian virus, but the same could not be said for safety goggles or mouth and nose masks.

Furthermore, the RIVM said the Health Ministry should in future take control of combating animal diseases in which there is a chance the virus can be transferred from animals to humans, such as the bird flu. Presently, the Agriculture Ministry carries out these operations.

The avian bird flu virus which ravaged the Dutch poultry industry — prompting Agriculture Minister Cees Veerman to slaughter 25 million birds in a preventative cull — was not the H5N1 variant, which broke out later in 2003 in South-East Asia. The South-East Asian epidemic led to the deaths of 30 people.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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