Denmark suspects, Sweden confirms H5N1 in birds

first_imgMar 15, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The avian influenza spotlight shifted to Scandinavia today as Denmark reported finding an H5 virus in a wild bird and Sweden confirmed suspicions that wild ducks were infected with H5N1 virus, according to news agencies.In addition, a sketchy report out of Azerbaijan said a dead stray dog was found infected with bird flu in Baku, the capital. The report didn’t specify the viral strain. There have been no previous confirmed reports of H5N1 avian flu in dogs.In Denmark, the Family and Consumer Affairs Ministry said a buzzard found on a beach south of Copenhagen was infected with an H5 virus, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report. The story said authorities would send a sample from the bird to the European Union reference laboratory in Britain for further testing.”We can confirm the first case of bird flu has been found in Denmark,” Minister for Family and Consumer Affairs Lars Barfoed was quoted as saying.Although this marked the first case of H5 avian flu in Denmark, a milder strain turned up in ducks on a farm in September 2003, AFP reported.In Sweden, the National Board of Agriculture said a European Union laboratory had confirmed H5N1 virus in two wild ducks found on the southeastern coast, according to an Associated Press (AP) report today.Sweden first reported suspected cases of avian flu in wild ducks in late February. By Mar 10 there were reports of 13 ducks infected with H5 viruses, but there was no confirmation of H5N1 until today.In Azerbaijan, a state commission in charge of fighting avian flu reported the infected dog, according to a Reuters story. The commission was quoted as saying, “A dead stray dog has been found, and after analysis type A bird flu was discovered. The medical investigation is continuing.” The commission said the dog died Mar 9 in Baku. There was no indication whether the virus was an H5 or some other strain.The report comes a few days after the discovery of an H5N1-infected stone marten (a weasel-like animal) in Germany and weeks after reports of a few infected domestic cats in Austria and Germany. Other nonhuman species that have been infected with H5N1 avian flu, either naturally or experimentally, include tigers, leopards, palm civets, ferrets, rats, pigs, cynomolgus macaques, and New Zealand white rabbits.In Afghanistan, authorities today said preliminary test results left them all but certain they were facing an H5N1 outbreak in birds, according to an AP report.Testing at a United Nations lab in Rome was expected to confirm the outbreak in the next 24 hours, said Mustafa Zahir, director of the government’s environment department, according to the story.”We are 99 percent certain,” Zahir was quoted as saying.The military government of Myanmar reported it had killed 5,000 poultry within 2 miles of the farm where the country’s first outbreak of H5N1 was found last week, according to an AP report today.Meanwhile, AFP reported that Myanmar’s rulers were maintaining a news blackout about the outbreak, leaving farmers worried and unsure how to prevent the disease.The country’s tightly controlled news media have not carried any stories about the outbreak, AFP reported. The only available information has come from short-wave radio and from posters that authorities have placed in Mandalay’s markets, where poultry vendors have been banned, the story said.A farmer named Shi, who has 750 chickens on the outskirts of Mandalay, said officials had given her no information about bird flu and no instructions on what to do with her chickens, according to AFP.”I still don’t know what the symptoms of bird flu are, so how can I know if my chickens will die of bird flu?” Shi was quoted as saying.Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, researchers announced the launching of a study in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia on the dosage of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) given to bird flu patients, according to the AP.Many countries are stockpiling oseltamivir in the hope that it will help protect people if the H5N1 virus evolves into a human pandemic strain. However, as noted in the AFP report, the virus has shown resistance to the drug in a few cases in Vietnam. The report gave no details on what the study involves.According to a study published last December, a Vietnamese girl died of avian flu even though she began receiving oseltamivir within the first 2 days of illness, the recommended window for effective treatment. The authors of the study said that a higher dosage of the drug or longer treatment course might be needed to ensure effectiveness.See also:Dec 22, 2005, CIDRAP News story “Tamiflu resistance in avian flu victims sparks concern”last_img read more

Smoking ban on Thai beaches

first_imgSmoking ban on Thai beachesSmoking ban on Thai beachesThailand is imposing a smoking ban on some 20 popular beaches across the country as part of the country’s sustainable tourism plan efforts. The ban comes into effect in November 2017.These beaches are in the provinces of Phuket (Patong); Surat Thani (Bo Phut on Ko Samui); Krabi (Phra Ae and Khlong Dao on Ko Lanta); Chon Buri (Bang Saen and Pattaya as well as Tam Pang on Ko Si Chang); Prachuap Khiri Khan (Hua Hin and Khao Takiap); Phetchaburi (Cha-am); Phang-nga (Ko Khai Nok and Ko Khai Nai on Ko Yao); Songkhla (Chalatas); Pattani (Tha Wa Sukri); Rayong (Mae Phim); Chanthaburi (Laem Sing), and Chumphon (Sai Ri).Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn said, “These beaches are among the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, and the aim is to keep them that way.”Many tourists include a visit to one or more beaches as part of their holiday in Bangkok and wider Thailand, and these beaches offer the opportunity to enjoy some unique Thai local experiences.“People who do smoke need not worry, as they will still be accommodated. The new smoking ban on Thai beaches is aimed at maintaining a clean and safe environment for everyone and to help with Thailand’s positive image as a wonderful tourist destination,” Mr. Yuthasak added.While the smoking ban covers the beaches themselves, officials say there will be designated smoking areas provided inland with refuse containers for the disposal of cigarette butts.Cigarette butts, apparently, are the main reason behind the new smoking ban on Thai beaches. More precisely, the disposal of butts, or even more precisely, the disposal of butts in the proper way.Thailand’s Department of Marine And Coastal Resources says it has had to retrieve tens of thousands of butts from the sands of beaches, with this accounting for a large amount of all rubbish collected. A department official said up to 138,000 butts had been collected from just one particular beach – a 2.5 km stretch of Phuket’s popular Patong Beach.Come November, the new smoking ban on Thai beaches that has been making Thai tourism news recently will carry a fine of up to 100,000 Baht or a year in prison. Far better, it will be, to head to the designated smoking areas for a cigarette.Officials say the ban initially being implemented on the 20 or so beaches could be expanded to all beaches in Thailand, if it is successful in tackling the waste problem. Meanwhile, under consideration is a similar measure against smoking on tourist boats.Thailand became a party to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on 27 February, 2005. Since then, the country has become one of the world’s forerunners in the fight to ban smoking from public places.Source = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more