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U.S. Panel May Re-Evaluate Bird Flu Research After Scientists Present New Data About Risks To Humans

Speaking at the American Society for Microbiology’s (ASM) Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Ron Fouchier, the leader of the team at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands that genetically altered the bird flu virus, making it transmissible between ferrets and “touching off public fears of a pandemic, said … that the virus he created was neither as contagious nor as dangerous as people had been led to believe …, prompt[ing] the United States government to ask that the experiments be re-evaluated by a government advisory panel that recommended in December that certain details of the work be kept secret and not published,” the New York Times reports (Grady, 2/29).

New SARS-Like Virus Not Spread Easily, WHO Reports

“A new strain of a potentially deadly virus related to SARS, which has killed one man in Saudi Arabia and left a Qatari man critically ill in London, does not appear to spread easily from person to person, the World Health Organization says,” according to the New York Times (Santora, 9/29). “To ensure an appropriate and effective identification and investigation of patients who may be infected with the virus, without overburdening health care systems with unnecessary testing, WHO issued a revised interim case definition Saturday on its website,” Xinhua reports (9/30). “On Saturday, the health organization, which was rushing to develop a diagnostic test, said that doctors should test for the virus only if the patient is severely ill,” the New York Times states (9/29). “But [the agency] added anyone who has been in direct contact with a confirmed case and who has any fever or respiratory symptoms should also be tested,” Reuters notes (Kelland, 9/29).

Also In Global Health News: WHO Flu Response; Sanitation In Mozambique; Interfaith HIV/AIDS Summit; HIV/AIDS In Uganda; South African Hospital Renovations; HIV Vaccine Development

Chan Defends WHO’s Response To H1N1 On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan defended her agency’s response to the H1N1 flu pandemic saying, “I personally do not believe that WHO exaggerated the threat,” and that “[a] new disease is, by definition, poorly understood as it emerges,” Reuters reports. Chan continued, “Had…

Health Officials Encourage Caution, Despite H1N1 Case Decline

As the number of new H1N1 (swine flu) infections worldwide drops, U.S. health officials on Friday cautioned the virus continues to circulate and can still be deadly, Reuters reports. According to the WHO, H1N1 remains the dominant strain worldwide, but there are reports of the recent emergence of the seasonal flu in Africa and China, according to the news agency.

Sec. Of State Clinton Participates In ASEAN Forum; ASEAN Health Ministers Meet

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Vietnam on Thursday to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum and to mark the 15th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, VOV News reports. According to the news service, this is Clinton’s first visit to the country since she became secretary of state. During her trip, she will have meetings with Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem (7/22).