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  • Bird flu update: 7 January 2008

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Below is a roundup of the key developments on the spread of the bird flu virus (H5N1) and the threat it poses to human health. Each title is a link to the full article.

Click here to see the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures of confirmed human cases.

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4–7 January 2008
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Human and bird flu viruses bind differently
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States have discovered a key difference in the way that human and bird flu viruses bind to the host's cells (source: Agence France Presse).

Universal flu vaccine 'available by 2011'
A vaccine to protect against all strains of influenza, including bird flu, could be available before 2011, according to a UK biotech company. Acambis, based in Cambridge, reported two early-stage trials and say the vaccine could be ready within three years (source: The Daily Telegraph).

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28 December 2007 – 4 January 2008
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Four Egyptian bird flu deaths in one week
The Egyptian health ministry announced that a 50-year-old woman from Damietta north of Cairo has died from H5N1 bird flu. It is the country's nineteenth bird flu death and the fourth in a week. The WHO had earlier confirmed the presence of the virus in a 36-year-old woman from Menufia in the Nile Delta region who died on the same day, and a 25-year-old woman from Daqahliya, also in the Nile Delta, who died the day before. Earlier in the week a 25-year-old woman from the town of Beni Soweif, south of Cairo, died of the disease. (sources: Agence France Presse, Reuters, International Herald Tribune).

First case of human-to-human transmission in Pakistan
The WHO has confirmed a case of human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus in a family in Pakistan. The confirmation follows the death of a man in the Peshawar region of Pakistan (source: Reuters).

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20–27 December 2007
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Bird flu kills four-year-old Vietnamese boy
The H5N1 virus was responsible for the death of a four-year old boy in northern Vietnam, the health ministry has announced. The WHO has confirmed the death, the country's first human case of bird flu in nearly five months (source: Reuters).

Latest death brings Indonesian bird flu toll to 94
A 24-year-old Indonesian woman from West Jakarta has died from bird flu, the country's ninety-fourth victim. Health ministry officials said laboratory tests confirmed she was infected by the H5N1 virus and the WHO have confirmed the case (source: Xinhua).

China bird flu vaccine also looks promising
China has announced that its human-use bird flu vaccine is "safe" and "effective" following phase II clinical tests. The vaccine was jointly developed by Sinovac Biotech, the first institute in the world to develop a SARS vaccine, and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (source: Xinhua).

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12–19 December 2007
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Indonesian man dies from H5N1 virus
A 47-year-old Indonesian man from East Jakarta has died of bird flu, bringing the country's death toll to 93. The WHO have confirmed the case (source: Xinhua)

WHO confirms Myanmar's first human case of bird flu
The WHO has confirmed Myanmar's first human case of bird flu in a seven year-old girl who survived the disease (source: Reuters).

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4–11 December 2007
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Bird flu kills Indonesian woman
A 28-year-old Indonesian woman from Tangerang, in the Banten province, has died of bird flu. The WHO has confirmed the case (source: Sydney Morning Herald).

India pledges US$2 million to global bird flu response
India has pledged US$2 million in response to the threat of bird flu, its first donation to the cause. Global donors pledged a total of US$406.1 million at the New Delhi International Ministerial Conference on Avian and Pandemic Influenza (source: The Hindu).

Countries 'ill prepared' as bird flu risk continues
The risk of a global influenza pandemic has not decreased since mid-2005, when the first cases emerged, warns a UN report.

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