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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 5:02 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Bird flu found in Indiana; 15th state to report it

A strain of avian flu that until now had been found only in the Western United States has cropped up in Indiana, bringing the total NUMBER of states affected by the virulent outbreak to 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday.

The eastward spread of any strain of the highly contagious H5 virus is worrying to farmers and investigators, who have hoped that warmer spring weather would help lower the number of infections in birds and curtail the virus' spread.

The H5N8 strain found in a backyard poultry flock in Indiana is concerning to them also. It is different from the H5N2 strain that has been CONFIRMED in scores of Midwestern farms and resulted in the death or culling of nearly 30 million birds so far.

The highly pathogenic H5N8 strain had been seen only in the Pacific flyway during this outbreak. Federal and state officials have CONFIRMED it in commercial chicken and turkey farms in California and a backyard poultry flock in Oregon. It was also found in captive falcons in Idaho and Washington, according to the USDA.

How the H5N8 virus moved eastward is not yet known.

"We’re working on the epidemiology, but the new finding of H5N8 is mostly likely due to a new introduction by waterfowl," USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokeswoman Joelle Hayden said in a statement.

The H5 strains in the current U.S. outbreak pose a low risk to human health, experts say, and no human infections have been identified so far.


The U.S. poultry and egg industry has been grappling for months with the biggest outbreak on record of avian influenza in the United States.

The economic ripple effects are starting to be felt, from baked goods companies feeling a squeeze on egg supplies to Hormel Foods Corp unit Jennie-O Turkey Store announcing a planned, temporary layoff of 233 workers at a Minnesota plant because the outbreak has reduced turkey supplies.

On Monday, shares of the largest U.S. egg supplier, Cal-Maine Foods Inc, touched a record high after theflyonthewall.com said research firm Sidoti & Co raised its price TARGET on the stock, citing better egg pricing power following a shortage of egg-laying hens due to the outbreak.

Last week, Post Holdings Inc said that chickens at one of its third-party contractors, which ACCOUNTS for about 10 percent of the company’s egg supply, had tested positive for bird flu. The company, which said it is analyzing the financial impact of the news, did not respond to requests for comment.


USDA CONFIRMED the Indiana test results on Sunday and the site in Whitley County has been quarantined.

Indiana State Board of Animal Health officials worked with the birds' owner to cull the 77-bird backyard flock before the final positive test came back from the federal laboratory, a spokeswoman told Reuters. The flock was a mix of ducks, chickens, geese and turkeys. The flock was culled on Saturday.

There have been three strains of H5 identified in North America in this outbreak.

The H5N2 strain has been reported in Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. It has also been identified on farms in British Columbia and Ontario, Canada.

The Canadian authorities also have confirmed the H5N1 strain was found in British Columbia, Canada.

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PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2015 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sysco sees U.S. bird flu hurting egg supply up to 18 months

Food distributor Sysco Corp said on Friday that a record U.S. outbreak of avian flu would limit its supply of eggs and chickens that lay them for nine to 18 months, based on information provided to the company by its suppliers.

Sysco is the biggest U.S. food distributor, whose clients include restaurants, HOTELS and hospitals. The company is discussing options with its customers, including creating alternative menu items during the period, a Sysco spokesman said in an email.

It is too soon to tell whether the supply squeeze will have a material impact on financial results, spokesman Charley Wilson said. Eggs represent a small portion of the company's dairy products segment, which ACCOUNTED for 11 percent of revenue in 2014.

The U.S. poultry and EGG industry is grappling with the country's biggest outbreak on record of avian influenza, which has proven highly infectious and deadly for poultry. Governors in Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa have declared a state of emergency, and the outbreak has shown few signs of waning.

Earlier this week, Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] said it has implemented increased biosecurity measures at its facilities receiving liquid egg tankers and shell eggs from impacted states and that it is working with egg suppliers to ensure they are EMPLOYING measures to prevent spread of the flu.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Post Holdings Inc, calling the flu a "force majeure event," said it now estimates that 25 percent of its egg supply has been affected. Sysco is a major customer for Post's Michael Foods business, which sells egg products, according to filings.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher Growe expects Post's previous estimate of a $20 million financial impact in 2015 to at least double, according to a research note.

Growe said that Post's contracts require the company to go to the open market and to third parties to replace the lost supply at high prices. "We believe that by declaring force majeure, the company will be able to either pass higher prices onto customers or be relieved from the mandatory supply requirements," he wrote.

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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2015 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How the Bird Flu Sweeping Through US Flocks Is Different Than Past Outbreaks

The ongoing outbreak of avian flu has prompted four states to declare a state of emergency and 40 million birds being either infected or culled as a result. An now, Minnesota has canceled its poultry shows at the state fair to protect its prize fowl.

But this outbreak is different from previous outbreaks, some of which have led to human infections in other parts of the globe, experts said.

There are multiple strains of the virus in the H5 family affecting birds -- nearly all of them in the H5N2 strain, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. outbreak has been devastating to farmers, with tens of millions of birds culled in an effort to head off the virus. The outbreak has already cost $1 billion in the economies of Minnesota and Iowa, which are two of the hardest hit states in the outbreak, according to the Associated Press.

The cost of a dozen eggs has also risen 58 percent, up to $1.88 in parts of the Midwest, according to the AP.

In the Far East and parts of the Middle East, bird flu has also led to fatal human infections, experts said. On the other hand, in the U.S. outbreak, no human has been reported infected with the virus in spite of the large spread of the disease across the nation.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said in previous outbreaks in Asia, where a version of the H5N1 virus wreaked havoc in the mid 2000's, people were in much closer contact with their animals than in the U.S.

The virus lacks the ability to infect human beings easily, said Schaffner, explaining that the virus cannot attach well to the cell in the throat area to infect humans. "Their attachment doesn't fit into the receptor sites of upper part respiratory tract," he said.

The problem occurs when people are in very close contact with their birds -- living cheek-by-jowl with them almost like pets. In those conditions the virus can eventually reach further into their respiratory tract, Schaffner said.

"In those intense exposures [the virus] gets deep into someone’s chest and makes someone sick," said Schaffner. "Even if it’s in that person, it does not readily spread" to other people.

A human infected with avian flu can face severe flu-like symptoms, including high fever, severe respiratory infection and pneumonia, Schaffner said, noting that the fatality rate can be extremely high -- as high as 30 to 40 percent.

While the H5N1 virus was first detected in Asia, it has recently caused an outbreak in Egypt, where 119 people were found to be infected with the virus and 30 died as a result since the beginning of this year.

A genetically different version of an H5N1 virus has recently been found in wild birds in the U.S. and is considered low risk to public health, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After the initial outbreak of H5N1 in Asia, the CDC has stockpiled some version of a human vaccine for the virus in case of a pandemic, but Schaffner said that would likely be a stop-gap measure until a better, more precise vaccine could be developed to counter whatever mutations the virus has picked up.

Another strain of avian influenza is H7N9, which also was first detected in China in 2013. In that initial outbreak, the CDC reported 132 human H7N9 infections, with 44 deaths.

Dr. Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said that the newer H7N9 virus could be a problem if it spreads from person to person more easily.

"H7N9 might be better able to get into the population and spread," said Morse, but he clarified that has not been definitively proven.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is already testing a vaccine to protect birds in the current outbreak, but Morse said that is not always the answer because of the expense and labor involved.

"You're talking about immunizing billions of animals that are going to live for six months before you send them out," to be culled, Morse noted. "It’s a big, expensive and laborious operation."
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

South Korea MERS virus outbreak 'large and complex': WHO

Seoul (AFP) - South Korea's outbreak of the deadly MERS virus is "large and complex" and more cases should be expected, a team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts said on Saturday.

WHO and South Korean health authorities have conducted a joint mission to review the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the largest outside Saudi Arabia.

The outbreak in South Korea has been spreading at an unusually fast pace, with 138 confirmed infections as of Saturday, with the country's first case diagnosed on May 20.

South Korea on Saturday reported the 14th death from the disease and 12 new cases, including that of an ambulance driver who transported a patient infected with the deadly virus.

"Now the outbreak has been large and is complex, more cases should be anticipated", WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Security Keiji Fukuda told journalists.

"And because of this, the government should remain vigilant and should continue its intensified disease surveillance and prevention measures until the outbreak is clearly over".

But he praised South Korean authorities for their strong tracing, monitoring and quarantine measures, backed by expanded laboratory diagnostic testing.

Fukuda said there was a "great deal of anxiety" among Koreans over the outbreak, particularly over whether the virus has mutated to make human-to-human transmission easier.

"Based on available sequencing studies of the genetics of the virus, we do not see any changes that appear to have made the virus itself more transmissible", Fukuda said.

The outbreak is showing epidemiological patterns similar to the one occurring in hospitals in the Middle East, he said.

- Unfamiliar virus -

At present, the mission has found no evidence to indicate that there are ongoing transmissions of the virus in communities outside hospitals in South Korea, he added.

The joint mission has identified some reasons to explain why the virus has infected a "large number of people in a relatively short period of time" in this country, Fukuda said.

The virus was unfamiliar to most Koreans, making doctors less likely to suspect the MERS virus as a potential cause of infection when diagnosing respiratory illnesses.

"Infection prevention and control measures were not optimal" in some hospitals, with overcrowded emergency rooms and many patients sharing a single hospital room, thus creating an environment for the virus to spread easily, he said.

South Koreans' habit of "doctor shopping" -- seeking care at many different medical facilities -- and the custom of having many friends and family members visit hospitalised patients may have contributed to the secondary spread of the infection, he added.

He recommended the continued enforcement of basic public health measures to stop further cases from spreading and urged infected people or those who have had contact with them not to travel.

The Health Ministry said on Saturday all the 14 killed by the virus had pre-existing health conditions, with the most recent fatality suffering from hypertension and hypothyroidism.

The latest fatality was a 68-year-old woman who contracted the virus at a hospital in Pyeongtaek City, 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Seoul.

The new confirmed cases included an ambulance driver who fell ill after transporting a 75-year-old infected woman to Samsung Medical Centre in southern Seoul on June 7, where she died three days later.

Out of 133 people whose contact with infected patients have been traced, the largest single group of 60 contracted the disease at Samsung Medical Centre, one of the largest hospitals in Seoul.

Five other cases are being investigated to find out how and where the patients were infected.

The first infected patient in South Korea was diagnosed on May 20 after a trip to Saudi Arabia.

The 68-year-old man visited four medical facilities, infecting other patients and medics, before he was finally diagnosed.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Egg rationing in America has officially begun

In recent days, an ominous sign has appeared throughout Texas. "Eggs [are] not for commercial sale," read warnings, printed on traditional 8 1/2-by-11-inch pieces of white paper and posted at H-E-B grocery stores across Texas. "The purchase of eggs is limited to 3 cartons of eggs per customer."

H-E-B, which operates some 350 supermarkets, is one of the largest chains not only in the state, but in the whole country. And it has begun, as the casual but foreboding notices warn, to ration its eggs.

[7 maps and charts that explain the egg crisis everyone will soon be talking about]

"The United States is facing a temporary disruption in the supply of eggs due to the Avian Flu," a statement released on Thursday said. "H-E-B is committed to ensuring Texas families and households have access to eggs. The signs placed on our shelves last week are to deter commercial users from buying eggs in bulk."

The news, as the grocer suggests, comes on the heels of what has been a devastating several months for egg farmers in the United States. Avian flu, which has proven lethal in other parts of the world, has spread throughout the United States like wildfire. Since April, when cases began spreading by the thousands each week, the virus has escalated to a point of national crisis.

As of this month, some 46 million chickens and turkeys have been affected, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nearly 80 percent of those are egg-laying hens, a reality that has been crippling for the egg industry.

But it's becoming increasingly clear that it isn't merely those who produce eggs that will suffer. Those who eat them will pay a price, too.

The wholesale price of eggs sold in liquid form (a.k.a. egg beaters, the kind used by large food manufacturers) has skyrocketed — from $0.63 per dozen to more than $1.50 — since the virus began to spread. While that stands to affect the price of breads, pastas, cakes and other commercial confections made with eggs, it also bodes poorly for food service providers, such as McDonald's, which sell millions of egg-filled meals every morning. Texas-based fast-food chain Whataburger recently announced that it will be shortening its breakfast hours for the foreseeable future.

"We know this is no fun for anyone and hope this doesn’t last long, and we apologize the supply of eggs cannot currently meet demand," the company wrote on its Facebook page.

In-shell egg prices have risen too. The average price per dozen has just about doubled since the end of May, according to the USDA. Have a look at that red line in chart below.

But incremental price increases are hardly as noticeable as strict limits on purchases, such as those already appearing at one of the country's largest supermarket chains, which makes the signs at H-E-B stores all the more foreboding. H-E-B has called the disruption "temporary" but hasn't delineated any time frame for the three-dozen-egg limit.

Given how fruitless efforts have been to contain the flu so far, it's hard to imagine the system will be flooded with a fresh stream of eggs any time soon. It seems likely, in other words, that other grocers will begin rationing eggs, too, before H-E-B is able to sell patrons as many as they wish to eat.

And with each wrinkle of bad news, the idea of a national egg shortage, which was once uttered as though it were a mere apocalyptic musing, is suddenly looking like a real possibility.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is This Rapidly Spreading Disease Part of Luke 21 Prophecy?

Is the rise of a polio-like disease part of Luke's end-times prophecy in chapter 21? The pestilence, called acute flaccid myelitis, paralyzes victims and triggers facial droop or weakness, droopy eyelids, difficulty swallowing and slurred speech.

"Every new case you see, the pit of your stomach drops out again," says Sara Carson, who's daughter was struck by the illness.

"You flash back to that moment in time where you're sitting in the hospital room thinking you don't know where the next day is going to take you, or the next hour or the next minute."

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has seen at least 50 cases this year, more than double the 21 reported last year.

"The CDC is concerned about the increase in cases, so we're actively investigating the cases and working really closely with health departments on it. We're intensifying our efforts to find out what causes it—we don't know what causes it," CDC pediatrician Manisha Patel says.

A variety of germs can trigger AFM, including West Nile and respiratory illnesses, among others.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poultry breeder Aviagen culls U.S. flock over bird flu fears

Aviagen [EWESJA.UL], the world's leading poultry breeding company, has euthanized chickens at a farm in Alabama over concerns about bird flu, the company said on Tuesday, as likely cases of the disease emerged in a top chicken-producing state.

Alabama officials said they suspected that poultry at three sites in the state were infected with the virus, about a week after some 90,500 chickens were culled over infections at two commercial operations across the border in Tennessee.

Aviagen detected the presence of antibodies for the flu virus in a flock in Alabama that showed "no evidence of clinical disease," company spokeswoman Marla Robinson said in an email. The company is based in Alabama.

The company euthanized the flock and "all eggs which were collected from that farm in the production system were traced and removed," she said. Aviagen did not respond to a question about how many birds were killed.

Tony Frazier, Alabama's state veterinarian, said the company chose to cull about 15,000 birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the farm had 153,000 birds.


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