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Bird flu deaths in Asia prompt alert

Outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported in China and Pakistan, where poultry stocks have been affected, after two people died of the disease on February 25.

Outbreaks of avian influenza have been reported in China and Pakistan, where poultry stocks have been affected, after two people died of the disease on February 25.

China, Pakistan, and Vietnam are all now on alert after human fatalities were reported in all three countries.

Scientists are worried about a possible pandemic that could be sparked by the mutation of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza, which can be contracted by humans.

The victims include a 44-year-old migrant worker who kept chickens in her backyard and a 23-year-old schoolteacher in Vietnam.

Three of the people who died were said to have had direct contact with or consumed sick and dead, infected poultry stock.

In the southwestern Chinese province of Guizhou, an outbreak caused the death of nearly 4,000 birds with a further 238,000 being culled.

On February 21 GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) for its Prepandemic vaccination, Prepandrix that governments have expressed an interest in stockpiling. [PMLive Feb 22]

The EMEA said: "Health authorities are concerned that the next pandemic could occur at some point within the next few years."

So far this year, H5N1 has infected five people and claimed the lives of four.

26th February 2008

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