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Jan 2008 ~ "the risk was overestimated," said Bernard Vallat, director general of the OIE
After the slaughter of literally millions and millions of birds worldwide because of fears of a human pandemic we now hear from Paris that
Bernard Vallat considers the fear "just nonscientific supposition". Dr Vallat said the H5N1 virus has proved extremely stable, despite concerns that it could mutate into a form that could spread easily among humans.
"We have never seen such a stable strain," Vallat said.
He said concerns a few years ago that a flu pandemic from H5N1 might be imminent lacked scientific proof.
"It was just nonscientific supposition," he told reporters.
January 17 2008 ~ H5N1 What is the justification for the UK's policy of non-vaccination?
The EU Directive clearly says,
"Vaccination against avian influenza can be an effective tool to supplement disease control measures and to avoid massive killing and destruction of poultry or other captive birds. Current knowledge suggests that vaccination may be useful not only as a short-term measure in emergencies but also as a long-term measure to prevent disease in situations of higher risk of introduction of avian influenza viruses from wild life or other sources. Provisions should therefore be established for both emergency and preventive vaccination." The idea that vaccinated poultry "may become infected and thus contribute to the further spread of the infection" is not accepted by the virologists who understand how vaccination works. Yet
the UK continues to shut up free range birds and to drag its feet on vaccination - to the deep frustration of all but the intensive farmers. What is more, in spite of the EU Directive on the minimum control measures to be applied, the UK has actually cut down on surveillance.
January 17 2008 ~ H5N1 Must it always be a voice in the wilderness that cries foul?
Italy has used vaccination to ring highly pathogenic H5 or H7 virus in years past with success. What seems to be happening in the UK is that officials assume perhaps that if they say 100% success cannot be claimed for vaccination, they will be justified in the public mind in warning against what is actually a near zero risk. The media seem most reluctant to point out it is far more dangerous for the country to ignore the available vaccines which responsible poultry keepers are so anxious to be able to use .
And not only journalists. It seems that most public service scientists have a clause in their contract banning membership of outside groups that might have the courage to question current dogma.
January 17 2008 ~ H5N1 "While our policy on vaccination is kept under continuous review, experts advise us that it would not assist disease control in this case."
Hilary Benn has issued a written Ministerial Statement on the Avian Influenza case in Dorset. He does not say who the experts are who advise against vaccination. The statement is now available online "...... no poultry or other captive bird movements from premises are permitted, all birds must be housed or otherwise isolated from contact with wild birds, no wild birds may be hunted, and all bird gatherings are banned. Biosecurity measures apply on premises where poultry or captive birds are kept. We are currently working with industry to determine the availability of licenses for movements from premises and for hunting of wild birds...."
January 16 2008 ~ H5N1 " renewed calls for the routine vaccination of all
free-range, organic and hobby birds..." which now have to be "kept indoors"
OIE report from January 11th sent by DEFRA:
".....According to EU and national legislations wild bird control and
monitoring areas are now set up. The boundaries of these areas are
set with reference to the places where the birds were found, while
also taking into account the location of local bird reserves and the
presence of wild bird populations along the Dorset coastline towards
Portland Bill. The boundary of the control area is set at 3 km [1.86
miles] from the relevant points where the birds were found; the
monitoring area at 10 km [6.2 miles]. According to the Times ".. All birds inside the control zone - which extends 15 miles southeast
of Abbotsbury and includes Weymouth, Chesil Beach and Portland Bill -
must be kept indoors. ......
some 32 premises within the zone, of which 19 are free-range
operations, involving a total of 24,588 birds.
No evidence of disease has been found in domestic birds.
Epidemiological inquiry is underway."
In the wider monitoring area there are 34 farms, of which 17 are free-
range, with a total of 111,488 chickens."
January 12 2008 ~ H5N1 - real concern voiced about Defra's future moves on outdoor birds.
Elm Farm, one of the leading organic research bodies in the country, is urgently asking for a programme of preventive vaccination to allow organic, free range and hobby birds to remain outside.
Like Elm Farm, we very much hope that DEFRA will bear in mind that if vaccination is delayed, it cannot then create the firewall needed since, with H5N1, vaccination takes six weeks to become effective.
Richard Sanders writes,
"The alternative to preventive vaccination, as suggested in the past by Government advisers and Defra, is the shutting up of all poultry in housing.
Read in full There are now many voices calling on Defra to release its stocks of H5N1 poultry vaccine now and to "start an orderly programme of preventive treatment".
Housing all poultry is completely unacceptable, impractical and with some poultry species such as geese, impossible. When the national mood, as voiced so loudly by Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, is for quality, high welfare poultry production, then we must do everything in our power to protect and grow the sector."
UPDATE two more dead swans found in the Abbotsbury Swannery have tested negative for the H5N1 strain. See H5N1 page