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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Update 9

Ministry of Health

Media Advisory

National Influenza Pandemic Committee

In Guyana

The National Committee on Influenza Preparedness has finalised Guyana’s National Influenza Preparedness Plan. The sub-committees (surveillance, health response, animal health and communications) have produced and presented individual committee strategic plans which are a part of the national plan.

 

Guyana is one of the first countries to start working towards preventing/reducing the possibility of the introduction of avian influenza into the country, and preparing to deal with the situation if avian influenza is detected.

  • G uyana has received its first set of Tamiflu medication. The New GPC will receive this coming week a supply of raw materials for the local production of Tamiflu. Guyana will keep raw materials in stock for the production of over100,000 doses of Tamiflu.
  • The National Committee on Influenza Preparedness through the A nimal Health Surveillance Sub-Committee comprising of members from the Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries Crops and Livestock and the Ministry of Health, Veterinary Public Health Department has organised a two day workshop on Avian Influenza for their technical staff to be held next week, December 20-21, 2005. This is a capacity- building initiative.
  • Guyana was represented at the Hemispheric Conference on Surveillance and Prevention of Avian Influenza in Brasilia on December2-3, 2005. The conference focused on
  • The risk posed to the American continent by the virus
  • The possibility of the virus acquiring the ability to transmit from human to human
  • The need to strengthen veterinary services in the region focusing on surveillance, prevention and control actions.
  • During discussions on progress of countries, Guyana was recognized for its efforts in preparing for a possible pandemic. It is one of the few countries that are advanced in its planning and preparedness. Networking with other countries to share information, identify funding sources and establish a working group within the Global Framework for the progressive control of trans-boundary animal diseases is part of the National Committee’s efforts.
  • Others Countries are interested in looking at Guyana’s experience in preparing for a possible Avian flu pandemic and a number of these countries have initiated discussions with Guyana.
  • Coming out of the conference, the countries have agreed to support the political, technical and financial commitments to undertake national, regional and continental actions aimed at responding to the current zoonotic and public health risk posed by avian influenza.

 

 

Latest News on the H5N1Virus

WHO’S Virologist, David Navarro, on a recent visit to Cambodia stated that the H5N1 Virus is undergoing subtle genetic changes that will enhance its ability to move from human-to-human.

REGIONAL

The Americas remain free of both animal and human cases of the H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus.

GLOBAL

(1) Countries with human cases of Avian Flu

The number of cases of avian flu in human population continues to gradually rise. This week the number of cases has increased to 138 from 137 last week and the number of deaths has increased from 70 to 71. Indonesia has confirmed a new human case of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

This brings the current total to 138 confirmed cases of avian influenza H5N1 strain since 26th December 2003. Of this 71 resulted in deaths. The number of countries with human cases remains the same these countries are: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Countries with human cases and the most updated figures are shown in the following table. The number of case for 2005 has almost doubled the number from2004.

The Total Numbers of Confirmed Human Cases of the H5N1 Strain of Avian Influenza Reported by WHO to date.

Date of onset

Cambodia

China

Indonesia

Thailand

Viet Nam

Total

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

2003

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

3

3

3

2004

0

0

0

0

0

0

17

12

29

20

46

32

2005

4

4

5

2

14

9

5

2

61

19

88

35

Total

4

4

5

2

14

9

22

14

93

42

138

71

 

Total number of cases includes number of deaths.
WHO reports only laboratory-confirmed cases.

 

 

(2) Countries with animal cases of avian flu

The number of countries with avian flu in animal population has not changed. However, outbreaks continue in China and Vietnam.

Countries that have reported animal cases of avian influenza H5N1 strain are: Cambodia, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. Over the last several weeks, hundreds of birds have been found dead in Kenya, Malauri and Ethiopia. But tests have shown that these birds were not affected by H5N1.

Animals

In addition to the wild birds and domestic poultry the animals by which the H5N1 strain is transmitted to humans, it has recently been shown that cats may be another. It has been found that cats are infected by eating infected birds and may contract the virus. They then infect other cats by shedding the virus in their excrement. Other animals that may be able to transmit the virus are pigs and horses.

 

Vaccines

Currently there are no vaccines to protect against the dreaded H5N1 strain of avian influenza (bird flu). However work is ongoing in some countries to produce such a vaccine that will offer some level of protection. These vaccines will need their formulas to be proved effective against the H5 N1 strain before being tested. Once a series of tests are carried out, and this new vaccine seems to be effective, mass production will start. The whole process takes a lot of time so it is imperative that vaccine production efforts continue.

 

Flu vaccines exist, but these are tailored to suit the seasonal influenza which is less problematic than the H5 N1 strain. The advice is to try to prevent any influenza virus and we will reduce (but not completely remove) the risk of getting bird flu.

 

Antiviral Medication

 

In the past a few medicines have been used for influenza, currently this has been narrowed to two that are proven to be effective: amantadine and rimantadine. Two others oseltamavir and zanamavir may possibly work, however studies have yet to be done to prove their effectiveness. Guyana has 1000 doses of Tamiflu in stock and raw materials will soon arrive to give Guyana capacity to locally produce more than 100,000 doses of Tamiflu.

 

Persons Travelling .

 

Persons who travelled abroad to the affected areas should:

  • Avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where one might come into contact with wild, domestic or caged birds.
  • Avoid coming in contact with surfaces with animal faeces or fluids.
  • Do not eat raw food.
  • Do not bring poultry or poultry product back from these countries.
  • Take notice of your general health for 10 days
  • If symptoms such as illness with fever 38°C, with a cough or sore throat or difficulty breathing during this 10 day period. Seek medical assistance
  • Remember to note: symptoms, where travelled, whether or not contact was had with poultry or any birds
  • Do not travel while ill, unless under medical supervision
  • Limit contact with others to prevent the spread of an infection

 

The Ministry of Health is advising that all persons practice:

 

Basic Hygienic Practices:

  • meat to be cooked at 70°C and above
  • cooked meat should be free of any pinkish tinge (colour)
  • eggs should be properly cooked with no runny yolks
  • refrigerated and frozen meats (this doesn’t kill the virus) should be properly defrosted away from other foods prior to cooking

 

 

Hand Washing Practice:

Hands are to be washed:

  • before preparing food and after handling raw foods
  • before eating food
  • before administering to an open wound
  • after using the washroom
  • after changing a baby’s nappy
  • after helping a child use the washroom
  • after handling animals and animal waste

 

It is advised to practice good hygiene daily not just as a preventative measure of avian influenza but as a preventative measure for all other common illnesses. Also boost your basic resistance to common illnesses by having good nutrition (increasing your vegetable and fruit intake). It has been proven globally that eating right, sleeping enough and exercising all help to boost the body’s immune system and this helps to fight illnesses.

 

For any further information please ring the Ministry of Health on 226-5164

 

Update 5                    

       National Influenza Pandemic Committee

 

Media Advisory

 

Ministry of Health

 

Global Situation

The World, as advised by the World Health Organization (WHO) remains in a pre-pandemic period (WHO phase three) in which human infection with a novel virus sub-type (H5) are occurring, but there is no evidence that the virus is spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans. Even though the virus has some ability to infect humans, the H5N1 avian influenza remains principally a disease of birds and not humans. During the last week, China reported 2 cases of human bird flu and one death, while Indonesia reported 2 new cases and two deaths and Thailand one new case. This brings the total numbers of confirmed human cases occurring from 26 December 2003 to 17 November 2005 to 130, of which 67 resulted in deaths. (Table 1)

 

Table 1: Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Reported to WHO

Date of onset

Indonesia

Viet Nam

Thailand

Cambodia

China

Total

cases

deaths

cases

Deaths

cases

deaths

Cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

26.12.03-10.03.04

0

0

23

16

12

8

0

0

0

0

35

24

19.07.04-08.10.04

0

0

4

4

5

4

0

0

0

0

9

8

16.12.04- to date

11

7

65

22

4

1

4

4

2

1

86

35

Total

11

7

92

42

21

13

4

4

2

1

130

67

Total number of cases includes number of deaths. WHO Reports only laboratory confirmed cases.

 

Globally, the number of H5N1 outbreaks among poultry increased to 3,394 with more than 94 % occurring in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Other countries confirming domestic bird infection includes The Peoples Republic of China, Russia, Korea, Cambodia, Malaysia, Japan, Romania, Hong Kong, Croatia, Mongolia, Laos, Kazakhstan and Turkey in Eastern Europe.

We also remind you that a flamingo infected with H5N1 was found dead on the beach in Kuwait but H5N1 has not yet been found in poultry birds in Kuwait.

 

(Table 2) : Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (type H5)

(as of 10 November 2005)

Countries

# of outbreaks

Camboadia

15

People’s Republic of China

60

Croatia

2

Hong Kong (SARPRC)

4

Indonesia

216

Japan

10

Kazakhstan

1

Republic of Korea

19

Laos

1

Malaysia

10

Mongolia

2

Romania

4

Russia

51

Thailand

1,161

Turkey

1

Vietnam

1,838

 

The Americas, including the Caribbean and Guyana, remain free of both bird and human cases of the H5 N1 strain of avian influenza (bird flu). The Region however continues to monitor the trend of spread in the Asian continent and in parts of Europe and has developed plans to prevent entry of this deadly virus into the Americas via poultry or wild birds.

 

 

 

Local Situation

Guyana continues to be vigilant and is advancing its preparation by implementing the National Influenza Preparedness Plan. The Animal Health Technical Committee developed a draft animal health and surveillance work-plan which focuses not only on the commercial poultry industry, but also the domestic and backyard chicken rearing practices and wildlife activities. Currently the Ministry of Agriculture is in Region 9 assessing the animal health surveillance systems in place at the borders especially with Brazil. The Ministry of Health also concluded a visit to Region 6, mainly the border areas, with Suriname to strengthen the Port Health Services at the harbor at New Amsterdam, the ferry port at Moleson Creek and other informal points of entry along the Corentyne Coast. Even though no travel restrictions or screening measures are advised at this time, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Home Affairs are working to improve the surveillance at all International Ports of Entry. The National Committee is advising that international travel remains safe. The National Influenza Preparedness Committee has also reported that the other technical sub-groups: Surveillance (including Monitoring and Evaluation), Information and Communication and Health Services are currently developing individual strategy plans to further prepare for any possible introduction of avian influenza into Guyana. Plans are already advanced for the procurement and stocking of several essential items such as drugs, medical supplies and safety equipment needed to respond to any possible bird flu outbreak.

 

Bird Flu Spread

The migratory birds, such as wild ducks and others, while being the most resistant to this virus, are the mechanism by which this virus crosses borders and spreads to domesticated poultry. Humans are then exposed to the virus via the faecal matter (droppings), raw or undercooked poultry meat and blood. Activities such as slaughtering, preparation of the bird for cooking (de-feathering, dissecting) in areas where transmission is taking place ( Asia) are deemed high risk. In these areas occasional transmission to humans may occur resulting in illness and even death.

 

 

Advisory

 

Introducing Citizens Bio-security : Whiles the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture have been strengthening our surveillance system so that we could identify the possible emergence of the bird flu virus in Guyana as soon as it enters (if at all), it is important for people to be part of the surveillance system. We urge people to be part of this early alert system by: looking for signs

  • Report sick birds (poultry and wild)
  • Practice backyard bio-security: those persons with poultry farms (including backyard farms) should restrict traffic in the area. Do not allow strangers in the vicinity of the birds and always disinfect shoes, clothes and hands to prevent a spread of diseases.

General

Wash hands using soap and water regularly is the most effective way of preventing the spread of many infectious diseases including bird flue. Hand washing with soap and water must be promoted actively at all our schools, work places, (farms, fields, factories, offices, etc.) at all entertainment and food service outlets, health care and medical facilities, in the home and all other places where people gather.

The general public is also advised to cover nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing with a clean handkerchief or tissue. This measure reduces the spread of infectious agents that may cause disease such as flu.

 

Specific

Washing hands with soap and water after handling any raw or frozen poultry or poultry products and other meats and fish is absolutely necessary to maintain food safety. Animals found dead should not be used for human consumption or for any purpose, and sick animals should not be slaughtered for use as food

All dead wild birds and any suspect case of influenza in birds should be reported to any Veterinary Officer, Flock Supervisor or Agriculture Field Officer and they will provide further advice. Eggs are considered safe for consumption providing that they are cooked properly (no runny yolks)

 

All poultry is considered safe for use once the following practices are adhered to:

  • Food should always be cooked properly using conventional cooking methods with heat above 70ºC.
  • Raw and cooked meats should be kept separate to avoid cross contamination
  • A separate chopping board and knife should be used for cooked and raw products
  • Cooked products should not be placed on the same plate that previously held raw products without being washed
  • Hands should be thoroughly washed after handling raw and frozen poultry products

 

Cleaning after handling poultry products in the kitchen:

  • All kitchen equipment (knives, chopping boards, plates, platters etc.) and all surfaces should be washed with a brush, soap, and treated water after use.
  • All kitchen surfaces (table tops, counter tops, stove tops, cupboard shelves, fridge shelves, benches, stools, chairs even floors) should be cleaned with a disinfectant (bleach and water) immediately after a spills, drips or leaks occur following the placement of raw poultry or meat on these surfaces.
  • The equipment (towels, cloths, mops, sponges etc) used to clean all related spills in the kitchen should be washed with soap, water and bleach before other uses

 

Travel.

There are currently no restrictions of travel to countries experiencing avian influenza and the screening of visitors from those areas are not advised at this time by the WHO. However, travellers to countries experiencing both cases of human and animal influenza are requested to refrain from visiting farmers markets (live animal markets) and poultry farms. Also they are advised to consume well cooked poultry and poultry products to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.

For further information relating to health matters, please contact Ministry of Health on 226-5164 and for animal related matters, please contact Ministry of Agriculture on 226-8714

 

 

 

Update 4

 National Influenza Pandemic Committee
Media Advisory
Ministry of Health

The WHO advises that the World is in Phase 3, i.e., a Pandemic Alert Phase.

 

The National Influenza Committee is appreciative of the great interest being paid by Guyanese to the Bird Flu spread in Asia and Europe and the possibility of an influenza pandemic. While we encourage Guyanese to obtain as much information as possible, we also urge people not to panic and to adhere to the advice of the National Committee.

The National Committee advises that bird flu has not been detected in Guyana or in any country in the Caribbean, South America and North America.

Poultry products, intended for human consumption, therefore, are safe for human consumption. Regarding the use of poultry products, the following food safety guideline apply:

Countries with documented cases of Avian Flu in animals are (these consist 14 countries where H5N1 has been documented) :

Cambodia , China, Croatia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey Vietnam, Mongolia and Kuwait. It was confirmed today that a flamingo bird (travelling through the Central Asian flyway) was infected with H5N1 in Kuwait. This is the first appearance of transmission among migratory birds within an established flyway. The threat to domestic birds in Kuwait remains low and the Kuwaiti authorities do not consider this a reason to destroy local poultry animals.

Countries with documented human cases (these are cases for which the WHO has obtained confirmation)- Please note there are other cases which have been suspected, but not yet confirmed:

Date of onset

Indonesia

Viet Nam

Thailand

Cambodia

Total

cases

deaths

cases

Deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

cases

deaths

26.12.03-10.03.04

0

0

23

16

12

8

0

0

35

24

19.07.04-08.10.04

0

0

4

4

5

4

0

0

9

8

16.12.04- to date

9

5

65

22

3

1

4

4

81

32

Total

9

5

92

42

20

13

4

4

125

64

 

The updated WHO Director General’s state for Influenza Pandemic as of

 

November in Phase 3.

 

 

Experts at WHO and elsewhere believe that the world is now closer to another influenza pandemic than at any time since 1968, when the last of the previous century's three pandemics occurred. WHO uses a series of six phases of pandemic alert as a system for informing the world of the seriousness of the threat and of the need to launch progressively, more intense preparedness activities.

The designation of phases, including decisions on when to move from one phase to another, is made by the Director-General of the WHO.

Each phase of alert coincides with a series of recommended activities to be undertaken by WHO, the international community, governments, and industry. Changes from one phase to another are triggered by several factors, which include the epidemiological behaviour of the disease and the characteristics of circulating viruses.

The world is presently in phase 3: a new influenza virus subtype is causing disease in humans, but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among humans.

 

 

 

The signs of avian flu in birds are as follows:

  • Severe depression, lack of appetite
  • Decline in egg production
  • Sudden death (100% mortality)
  • Dehydration
  • Discharge from nasal (nose) and oral (mouth) cavity

Advice: All poultry workers are asked to do the following:

  • Immediately notify any suspected case to a Veterinary Officer, Flock Supervisor, or Agricultural Field Officer and they will advise further.
  • Take precautionary measures when handling and disposing of ill birds
  • Disinfect and clean all equipment and clothes properly
  • Minimise human traffic on farms
  • Prevent spread by confining all equipment to the farm

Food Safety Guidelines

 

  • Poultry must be cooked properly using conventional cooking methods with heat above 70°C.
  • Note that the virus, H5N1, the bird flu virus, is not destroyed by freezing or refrigeration, but is destroyed by heat. Thus, cooking meat well is essential.
  • Slaughtering and preparation of dead or sick poultry is dangerous and should not be practiced. Again: Poultry animals found dead should not be used for human consumption or for any purpose. Sick animals should not be slaughtered for use as food.
  • The H5N1 virus is found on the shell and inside the shell (yolk and whites) of eggs. Uncooked eggs or undercooked eggs (with runny yolks) from areas with H5N1 outbreaks should not be consumed. Eggs that are currently available in Guyana, according to the Poultry Association of Guyana do not come from countries where H5N1 has been detected. At this time, use of eggs for human consumption is safe in Guyana.

 

In the kitchen, basic food hygiene practices such as the following are recommended:

 

  • Separate raw meats from ready to eat foods to avoid cross contamination
  • Use a separate chopping board or knife for cooked and raw products
  • Do not put cooked products on the same plate that previously held raw products
  • Wash hands after handling raw products and before handling cooked products

 

Cleaning after handling poultry products

  • hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and safe water (that is either boil water or water treated with bleach) after handling raw and frozen poultry products
  • all kitchen equipment (knives, chopping boards, platters, plates etc) and surfaces should be washed with a brush, soap and safe water after use.

 

General Information

The general public is advised to practice basic hygiene including frequent hand washing with soap, covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

 

If any of the mentioned signs and symptoms is observed, you are advised to seek medical attention.

 

For further information: Ministry of Health 226-5164. or Ministry of Agriculture: 226-8714.

TOP

 

NATIONAL INFLUENZA PANDEMIC COMMITTEE

UPDATE # 3

 

National Committee and Status of National Preparedness :

 

Guyana's National Influenza Pandemic Committee now benefits from full participation of various public sector entities (including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Local Government, Georgetown City Council), the private sector (including the Guyana Poultry Producers Association and the Wildlife Association), the University of Guyana, international technical agencies (including the US CDC, PAHO/WHO and CAREC, IICA and FAO) and representatives of international governments (US, Canada, the UK, Brazil, Suriname, Cuba, India and China).

 

The National Committee, in this initial period, as a comprehensive plan is being put in place, is meeting on a weekly basis. It meets each Friday morning and is chaired by the Minister of Health.

 

The comprehensive National Plan has undergone revision and a final draft has been circulated to Members of the National Committee for their comments. The National Committee has established four sub-committees to assist in the implementation of various programs:

 

  • Health Response - the Ministry of Health is coordinating this sub-committee
  • Surveillance and Monitoring - the Ministry of Health in collaboration with PAHO/WHO is coordinating this sub-committee
  • Animal Health and Surveillance - the Ministry of Agriculture is coordinating

this sub-committee, in collaboration with IICA and FAO

  • Communications and Public Information Committee - The PRO of the Ministry of Health and GINA are coordinating this committee and will be supported by technical officers from the ministries of Health and Agriculture, the Poultry Association, the Wild Live Division, PAHO/WHO and CDC

 

Each sub-committee has been tasked with developing action plans as part of the National Preparedness Plan. These action plans are to be approved by the National Committee within the next two weeks.

 

Purchase arrangements for 1,000 doses of Tamiflu are advanced. This is in order to establish a stockpile of drugs. Expected delivery date is December. Stockpiles for medical supplies such as gloves, masks etc. are also being established.

 

The National Committee continues to track the development of a specific vaccine for the current strain of Bird Flu. As soon as vaccines become available on the Global market efforts will be made to procure and deliver these to the most at risk populations in Guyana.

 

Testing: The committee is exploring the possibilities of introduction of early testing, using the internationally developed rapid test kits for especially birds.

 

Arrangements are currently in place to conduct confirmatory testing of birds for the H5Nl virus at CAREC Laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago and at PANTOFSA in Brazil.

 

The Ministry of Health is also finalising arrangements for testing of humans for the bird flu virus with CAREC and the CDC in the USA.

 

In the meantime, Guyana continues to be in the pre-pandemic phase. This means that Guyana is free from the Avian (Bird) flu influenza virus (H5Nl). There is no presence of the H5Nl in either the bird population or the human population in Guyana.

 

International Status of Bird Flu:

 

More than 140 million poultry animals have been culled (destroyed/killed) in a number of countries since the outbreak of H5Nl in birds was detected in 1997. Birds have been killed because of H5N1 in the following countries: Cambodia, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Countries in Europe have enhanced surveillance of death and movement of birds especially the wild duck or water fouls.

 

Transmission of H5NI among poultry populations has occurred through bird to bird transmission. In some cases, the transmission has been within flocks, passing from one poultry animal to another.

 

In other cases, transmission appears to also be through migratory birds to local wild birds and poultry birds. This may be the case for the appearance of H5Nl in the poultry flocks of Turkey, Romania, Croatia and Russia.

 

Introduction of H5Nl among flocks of birds in new countries could occur via a number of routes:

 

Migratory birds - next week’s update will feature the migratory patterns of birds from Asia, Africa and Europe to North and South America.

 

Human Infection:

 

Thus far, we have no evidence that transmission has occurred from person to person anywhere in the world. However, 122 cases of H5NI infection among humans have been documented in 4 countries, with 62 deaths recorded. Previous pandemic recorded high death rates among those infected. Table 1

 

Table 1: Influenza Pandemic

Year

Name

Type

Number of Deaths

(millions)

1918

Spanish Flu

A H1N1

50-100

1957

Asian

A H2N2

1-4

1968

Hong Kong

A H3N2

1-4

 

 

At this time the threat to humans in Guyana remain low, but this is dependent on the global situation. The national committee will continue to monitor the situation and plan accordingly. The Government is prepared and ready to act if the threat increases.

 

During this period everyone can contribute by both personal and community actions that can positively contribute to state of preparedness and ultimately to the avoidance of this highly infectious disease spreading among Guyanese.

 

The National Committee would like to encourage all Guyanese to be on the look out for any signs of dead birds (wild and domesticated) Personal hygiene actions such as regular hand washing with soap and water and covering the mouth with a tissue or a handkerchief when coughing or sneezing can reduce the chance of an infectious virus spreading from person to person. Even though the bird flu virus is not present in Guyana at this time, hand washing is helpful in reducing the spread of other flu viruses that may be circulating.

 

It will also be helpful if persons with a cold or signs and symptoms of flu (fever, headaches, body pains) seek medical attention at the nearest hospital, health centre or family or personal physician.

 

TOP

 

 

 MINISTRY OF HEALTH

 

UPDATE ON AVIAN FLU

 

Guyana is in phase I of the pre-pandemic stage in the Influenza Preparedness Plan. This means that the influenza virus H5Nl has NOT been detected in either the bird population or in the human population. Alert level: NIL

 

Countries with documented cases of Avian Flu in animals are:

Cambodia, China, Croatia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Turkey Vietnam. (Japan was detected with H5N2)

 

Humans

 

The signs of avian flu in humans are as follows:

Fever of 38°C and higher which occurs within 14 days of exposure followed by influenza like symptoms such as cough, rhinorrea (discharge from nose), sore throat and sometimes shortness of breath. Watery diarrhoea is present in the early stages of the illness and is followed by respiratory symptoms a week later. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain and vomiting may occur. Headaches are also present.

 

Birds

The signs of avian flu in birds are as follows:

  • Severe depression, lack of appetite
  • Decline in egg production
  • Sudden death (100% mortality)
  • Dehydration
  • Discharge from nasal (nose) and oral (mouth) cavity

 

Advice:

All poultry workers are asked to do the following:

  • Immediately notify any suspected case to a Veterinary Officer, Flock Supervisor, or Agricultural Field Officer and he/she will advise further.
  • Take precautionary measures when handling and disposing of ill birds.
  • Disinfect and clean all equipment and clothes properly.
  • Minimise human traffic on farms
  • Prevent spread by confining all equipment to the farm

\..

 

 

The general public is advised to practice basic hygiene including frequent hand washing with soap, and covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.

 

If any of the mentioned signs and symptoms are observed, you are advised to seek medical attention. For further information please ring the Ministry of Health on 226-5164.

 

This strain of avian flu originated in Asia, where some human cases resulted in death in countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong. The mode of transmission still remains from bird to human. To date there are no human cases or animal cases in the Americas (including Guyana's neighbouring countries) or the Caribbean.

 

Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza A/(H5 Nl)

Reported to WHO October , 24, 2005

 

Date

of

Indonesia

Viet nam

Thailand

Cambodia

Total

 

onset

 

Cases

Deaths

Cases

Deaths

Cases

Deaths

Cases

Deaths

Cases

Deaths

26.12.03-

0

0

23

16

12

8

0

0

35

24

10.03.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.07.04-

0

0

4

4

5

4

0

0

9

8

08.10.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16.12.04

7

4

64

21

2

1

4

4

77

30

To date

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

4

91

41

19

13

4

4

121

62

 

Notes

Total number of cases includes numbers of deaths.

 

WHO reports only laboratory-confirmed cases.

 

 

TOP

Bird Flu: No need to panic

- Minister Ramsammy

 

Georgetown GINA October 11, 2005

 

The Ministry of Health has a mandate to protect the public from the deadly Avian Flu and it will implement programmes to help fight the disease.

According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, these programmes will be implemented soon and the public will be made aware of these.

“It is not a case of if the Avian Flu reaches Guyana, but when the flu reaches Guyana. The Ministry will work feverishly to ensure that Guyanese are protected.”

The Minister of Health in a recent statement urged all Guyanese not to panic as no case of the Bird Flu has been found in Guyana or any country in the Americas.

“It is our hope that if we are vigilant, we would be able to pick up cases very early if and when it begins to appear anywhere in the Americas.”

“We urge every Guyanese to remain vigilant and adhere to the advice that may come from the Ministry of Health. In the meantime, we ought not to panic. There is no reason to panic.”

“The Ministry is tracking the emergence of influenza-like illnesses around the world and would be issuing information on a weekly basis, as part of Guyana’s National Preparedness Plan for an Influenza pandemic.”

The virus, which causes the flu commonly known as the HN51 virus, is influenza A virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds

This type of flu is caused mainly by birds and can affect humans if contact is made with domesticated animals such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys. The infection is found mainly in these animals and can easily kill them. However, even though wild birds carry the virus in their intestines they usually don’t get sick.

Bird Flu viruses do not usually infect humans, but several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997.

Some symptoms of the Avian Flu in humans include, fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, eye infections and other severe life-threatening complications.

Infected birds spread the virus in their saliva, nasal secretions and faeces. Other birds become infected when they have contact with infected birds. Humans become infected when they have contact with infected birds.

Studies suggest that the prescription medicines used to treat human flu viruses would work in preventing Bird Flu infection in humans. However, flu viruses can become resistant to these drugs and sometimes may not always work.

The risk from bird flu is generally low among humans because the virus occurs mainly among birds. However, when there is an outbreak among domesticated birds, humans become susceptible.

So far the spread of the virus from humans to humans have been rare and the spread has not continued beyond one person. Scientists are in the process of discovering whether this can change, seeing that all influenza viruses have the ability to change.

 

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National Committee launched to prepare for Avian Flu outbreak

 

Georgetown, GINA October 13, 2005

 

The Ministry of Health has launched a national plan in the event this country has an outbreak of the Avian Flu commonly known as the Bird Flu.

In this regard, several Government Ministries including the Health and Agriculture Ministries and international organization are now part of a newly-formed committee to sensitize the public to the dreaded Bird Flu.

Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy said that Guyana is taking precaution even though there is no occurrence of the flu in Guyana.

"We have been involved in the planning stages since the outbreak began in the Asian countries so preparations are underway in case the country has an outbreak."

The Minister also noted that the committee will be updating the public on a weekly basis of any outbreak of the influenza virus around the world.

Minister Ramsammy also pointed out that the Ministry of Agriculture would play an integral role in the plan.

"We will be working closely with the Agriculture Ministry to monitor what is happening in the bird population."

Some of the goals of the newly formed committee will be to establish and strengthen the plan and to reduce opportunity for human infection.

The Minister also noted that $20M has been set aside for the initial part of the plan.

Dr. Ramsammy also said that if an outbreak should occur in Guyana quarantine of persons would be an option.

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Guyana is currently free of ‘bird flu’ – Health Minister

 

Georgetown , GINA, October 22, 2005

 

Guyana is currently free from the Avian influenza virus, commonly known as the ‘bird flu’ in both human beings and the bird population, disclosed Health Minister, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy.

He noted that the current monitoring system has not detected any signs of the avian influenza.

“The status of the Americas, including the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean is currently bird flu free,” assured the Health Minister.

The Health Ministry in preparation for any possible ‘bird flu’ outbreak is currently finalising along with its partners and stakeholders, the National Plan against Bird Flu.

The Ministry is strongly recommending good hygiene practices including washing hands with soap and water and to seek early medical attention for any flu-like illness.

The virus, which causes the flu is commonly known as the HN51 virus, a virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds, and can affect human beings if contact is made with domesticated animals such as chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

The infection is found mainly in these animals and can easily kill them. However, even though wild birds carry the virus in their intestines they usually do not get sick.

So far the spread of the virus from humans to humans have been rare. Some symptoms of the Avian Flu in humans include, fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, eye infections and other severe life-threatening complications.

About 60 people out of 120 confirmed cases have died from the deadly strain, all in South East Asia. It recently spread into Romania, Turkey and Russia. The H5 strain was on October 21, confirmed in Croatia.

At the moment, Asian countries are stepping up bird flu measures. H oping to avoid the doomsday-scenario flu pandemic, four generic manufacturers are currently in talks with Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant a release from the ‘Taipei Times’, Thailand stated with a view to potential tie-ups.

Roche manufactures Tamiflu, known generically as oseltamivir. This is considered the first line of defense against the H5N1 avian flu virus that experts fear could spark a deadly, worldwide outbreak in people.

Between two and 50 million are expected to die globally if a pandemic occurs.

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Guyana preparing to combat possible bird-flu influx

 

Georgetown , GINA, October 28, 2005

 

With Guyana preparing in the event that the deadly Avian Influenza or ‘bird-flu- reaches its shores, Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy last evening said that a number of measures are being taken by his Ministry.

The virus, presently circulating in Asia and some European countries, kills birds and poultry mostly.

“It is clear that through migratory birds, there is a real possibility that the bird-flu is becoming a pandemic and so, one of the things that we need to do at this point is to take action to ensure that our own poultry do not become infected,” the Health Minister explained.

He posited, “So far, no country in the Americas has had any case of a bird-flu infection.” However, the Minister cautioned that it appears as if it is only a matter of time before this may happen.

“We have established a Committee to ensure that people are familiar, across the country, especially farmers. So, we are establishing this surveillance system, whereby if anything happens among our poultry that is unusual, that we would know and therefore test,” he said.

The Minister added that it would be important that if the disease arrives in the country, it can be detected early.

“So, we are establishing this national surveillance among poultry farmers. To make that happen, we have representatives on the committee, but the Ministry of Agriculture has established a sub-committee of our national committee that would be working directly with the farmers.

He added that work will not only be done with poultry farmers, but also with others, since one of the dangers is that the virus could spread easily from birds to other animals, such as pigs.

“The pigs have a history of viruses easily mixing genes and therefore developing the ability to move from specie to specie.”

Minister Ramsammy noted that if there is going to be early diagnosis, just being able, with good surveillance, to know when something unusual is happening, is not good enough, because tests will have to be done. In this regard, the Ministry has been developing the capacity to do testing.

“We are already in discussions with three facilities,” the Minister said, citing one in Trinidad and Tobago and another; the United States Centre for Disease Control and a third in Brazil.

He noted that as such, screen tests could be done in Guyana with confirmatory tests carried out at one of these facilities.

“One of the very important things, if we take Europe as an important lesson, is that it is being brought into Europe through the migratory birds, so we have to ensure that our farming practices prevent mixing of migratory birds with our farm animals. So that is one of the things we want to educate the farmers about, and putting in practices that will prevent such mixing,” the Health Minister pointed out.

Minister Ramsammy further explained that the country also has to prepare for the human influenza virus, therefore stockpiling is presently underway, in case the inevitability of the human virus occurs.

“We’re ensuring that medical commodities; drugs and other supplies like gloves, masks and so on, that we have a stockpile of them. We have tried over the last years, to have a minimum of six months supply in stock, that is for our normal services, but with this, this is an extraordinary case.”

The Minister said that the Ministry is therefore working towards getting a twelve to eighteen months supply.

“We’re also aware that Tami-flu has proven to be a medication that reduces the severity of infections when they have occurred and therefore we want to make sure that we have enough supplies of Tami-flu.”

Bearing in mind that there is already a shortage of the drug, the Health Minister said that it is obvious that countries that can manufacture the drug will serve their own people first.

“If a pandemic occurs, it is almost certain there is going to be a shortage,” he added.

However, Minister Ramsammy assured that Guyana is not going to wait for this to happen, and has already put an order for the drug to be available.

In the event that there comes a need for a major supply, as a result of a major shortage, consideration will be given to Guyana manufacturing the drug.

“We have obtained the formula for Tami-flu and we have also embarked on ordering the raw materials.

Though there is already a shortage of the raw materials on the world market, because Guyana acted early, it is one of the countries which will be high on the list of countries eligible to receive the drug, the Minister said.

“We are also talking to other countries because we understand that a vaccine might be necessary, so we are talking to countries that have vaccine-manufacturing capacity,” Minister Rammsammy emphasised. He pointed out that Guyana is fortunate to have good health relationships with countries that have such capacity, including Brazil, Cuba and India.

He added too, that testing facilities for the human influenza virus are also being put in place.

 

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Guyana preparing to combat possible bird-flu influx

 

Georgetown , GINA, October 28, 2005

 

With Guyana preparing in the event that the deadly Avian Influenza or ‘bird-flu- reaches its shores, Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy last evening said that a number of measures are being taken by his Ministry.

The virus, presently circulating in Asia and some European countries, kills birds and poultry mostly.

“It is clear that through migratory birds, there is a real possibility that the bird-flu is becoming a pandemic and so, one of the things that we need to do at this point is to take action to ensure that our own poultry do not become infected,” the Health Minister explained.

He posited, “So far, no country in the Americas has had any case of a bird-flu infection.” However, the Minister cautioned that it appears as if it is only a matter of time before this may happen.

“We have established a Committee to ensure that people are familiar, across the country, especially farmers. So, we are establishing this surveillance system, whereby if anything happens among our poultry that is unusual, that we would know and therefore test,” he said.

The Minister added that it would be important that if the disease arrives in the country, it can be detected early.

“So, we are establishing this national surveillance among poultry farmers. To make that happen, we have representatives on the committee, but the Ministry of Agriculture has established a sub-committee of our national committee that would be working directly with the farmers.

He added that work will not only be done with poultry farmers, but also with others, since one of the dangers is that the virus could spread easily from birds to other animals, such as pigs.

“The pigs have a history of viruses easily mixing genes and therefore developing the ability to move from specie to specie.”

Minister Ramsammy noted that if there is going to be early diagnosis, just being able, with good surveillance, to know when something unusual is happening, is not good enough, because tests will have to be done. In this regard, the Ministry has been developing the capacity to do testing.

“We are already in discussions with three facilities,” the Minister said, citing one in Trinidad and Tobago and another; the United States Centre for Disease Control and a third in Brazil.

He noted that as such, screen tests could be done in Guyana with confirmatory tests carried out at one of these facilities.

“One of the very important things, if we take Europe as an important lesson, is that it is being brought into Europe through the migratory birds, so we have to ensure that our farming practices prevent mixing of migratory birds with our farm animals. So that is one of the things we want to educate the farmers about, and putting in practices that will prevent such mixing,” the Health Minister pointed out.

Minister Ramsammy further explained that the country also has to prepare for the human influenza virus, therefore stockpiling is presently underway, in case the inevitability of the human virus occurs.

“We’re ensuring that medical commodities; drugs and other supplies like gloves, masks and so on, that we have a stockpile of them. We have tried over the last years, to have a minimum of six months supply in stock, that is for our normal services, but with this, this is an extraordinary case.”

The Minister said that the Ministry is therefore working towards getting a twelve to eighteen months supply.

“We’re also aware that * Tammyflu has proven to be a medication that reduces the severity of infections when they have occurred and therefore we want to make sure that we have enough supplies of * Tammyflu.”

Bearing in mind that there is already a shortage of the drug, the Health Minister said that it is obvious that countries that can manufacture the drug will serve their own people first.

“If a pandemic occurs, it is almost certain there is going to be a shortage,” he added.

However, Minister Ramsammy assured that Guyana is not going to wait for this to happen, and has already put an order for the drug to be available.

In the event that there comes a need for a major supply, as a result of a major shortage, consideration will be given to Guyana manufacturing the drug.

“We have obtained the formula for * Tammyflu and we have also embarked on ordering the raw materials.

Though there is already a shortage of the raw materials on the world market, because Guyana acted early, it is one of the countries which will be high on the list of countries eligible to receive the drug, the Minister said.

“We are also talking to other countries because we understand that a vaccine might be necessary, so we are talking to countries that have vaccine-manufacturing capacity,” Minister Rammsammy emphasised. He pointed out that Guyana is fortunate to have good health relationships with countries that have such capacity, including Brazil, Cuba and India.

He added too, that testing facilities for the human influenza virus are also being put in place.

 

Correction:

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