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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.

29 October – 5 November 2007

Indonesian woman dies from bird flu
A 30-year-old woman from the Indonesian town of Tangerang, west of Jakarta, has died from suspected bird flu, the health ministry has announced. If confirmed, her death will bring the country's total to 90 (source: Xinhua).

Africa 'cannot meet WHO bird flu priorities'
Avian influenza remains a grave danger to Africa, a group of experts has said (source: The Lancet Infectious Diseases).

22–28 October 2007

Universal flu vaccine hope
Mice exposed to dead H1 and H3 viruses and an RNA-like drug are protected from H5N1, despite never being exposed to it, Japanese scientists have found. They say this could help in the quest for a vaccine against all flu viruses (source: New Scientist).

Five-year-old dies from bird flu
The WHO has confirmed the death from bird flu of a five-year-old girl  from the town of Tangerang, Indonesia (source: Reuters)

Vaccine production to 'sharply increase' in next few years
Drug manufacturers will be able to increase the amount of bird flu vaccine they make in the next few years due to scientific advances and increased capacity, experts say (source: VOA news).

15–21 October 2007

United States earmarks US$38 million for UN bird flu fund
The United States government has donated US$38 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's bird flu control programme in western, eastern and southern Africa (source: All Africa).

8–14 October 2007

Indonesian boy dies from bird flu
A 12-year-old boy from Tangerang in Indonesia, has died from bird flu, the WHO has confirmed. Indonesia's death toll now stands at 88 (source: Reuters).

Indonesian bird flu death confirmed
The WHO has confirmed the death of a 44-year-old woman from Pekan Baru city on Sumatra, Indonesia (source: Reuters).

Human and bird virus cell targets differ
Scientists have discovered that human flu viruses bind to cell types in the upper respiratory tract while bird flu viruses target cells in the lower respiratory tract (source: Science Daily).

Bird flu returns to Vietnamese poultry
Bird flu has returned to southern Vietnam after a two-month absence, says the Agriculture Ministry. Samples from ducks in Tra Vinh province confirmed the presence of the virus (source: Reuters).

Pakistan unveils US$19 million bird flu plan
The Pakistani government has announced a PKR1.18 billion (US$19 million) plan to combat bird flu. It includes improvements to diagnostic capabilities, research and public awareness campaigns (source: Daily Times).

Bangladesh receives World Bank aid
The World Bank has granted Bangladesh US$2 million to help stop the spread of bird flu in the country (source: Reuters).

Ordinary computers used in bird flu drug search
Asian and European researchers are harnessing the power of thousands of computers to search 500,000 drug-like molecules for potential bird flu drugs. The computers are linked together to form a 'grid' supercomputer (source:

1–7 October 2007

WHO: Jakarta man died of bird flu
The death of a 21-year-old man in Jakarta, Indonesia, last month has been confirmed by the WHO (source: WHO).

H5N1 'more invasive than thought'
Post mortems on bird flu victims have shown that the H5N1 virus infects more organs and cells than previously thought.

Indonesian vaccines tested
Indonesia's locally-produced human bird flu vaccine is ready to use following successful clinical tests, says the country's health minister (source: Xinhua).

Mutation brings H5N1 closer to human transmission
Experiments in mice show that the presence of a single amino acid allows the H5N1 virus to grow successfully in the upper respiratory tract. Scientists say this could provide a platform for the virus to more efficiently infect and pass between humans (source: PLoS Pathogens).

Past flu viruses 'more deadly' after single mutation
A single amino acid change found in a H5N1 virus circulating from Hong Kong in 1997 and the 1918 pandemic flu strain increased their disease-causing ability (source: PloS Pathogens).

Survivor plasma potential bird flu treatment
Transfusions of plasma, the liquid part of the blood, from bird flu survivors are a potential treatment for the H5N1 virus, according to Chinese doctors. A patient receiving transfusions from a survivor received antibodies that aided recovery, the doctors say (source: Web MD Medical News).

Doctors warned: do not over-prescribe Tamiflu
Researchers have warned doctors not to over-prescribe the influenza drug Tamiflu. They say the drug is not broken down in sewage systems, meaning it could find its way into water supplies and make viruses resistant in the event of a pandemic (source: Reuters).

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