Monday, October 24, 2005

WAS THE AVIAN FLU crisis caused by Chinese incompetence and/or veterinary malpractice? Australia's Sunday Herald Sun says so:
CHINA caused the global bird flu crisis by feeding an antiviral drug meant for humans to its chickens, experts say.
The move rendered most anti-viral defences useless because the virus mutated into a more virulent strain.

As a result, the avian influenza virus, H5N1, is now largely resistant to amantadine - a low cost drug once effective in protecting humans.

The world must now rely more on the two less effective and more expensive anti-virals, Tamiflu and Relenza.

[...] Amantadine was put in the drinking water of millions of China's estimated chicken population of 13 billion in the late 1990s. That broke international livestock guidelines on health.

China's Ministry of Agriculture denied the practice, but in June said it was sending inspectors to make sure the antiviral use on chickens ended.

The mutated avian influenza virus that is now resistant to amantadine has spread to Vietnam, Thailand and even Europe.

The H5N1 virus can cross the species barrier into humans, leading to viral pneumonia and organ failure.

The biggest fear among health experts is the virus will mutate so that it can spread easily between humans, causing a pandemic that could kill millions of people.

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