US agencies report plans to detect H5N1 in birds

first_imgMar 20, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The chiefs of three federal agencies, predicting that the H5N1 avian influenza virus will enter the United States, today unveiled their joint plan for quickly detecting the virus.”We’re closely monitoring the rapid spread of the H5N1 virus overseas,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “We now believe it is likely that we will detect it within our borders in the United States. It is critically important to understand that the detection of this virus among birds will not signal the start of a pandemic among people. The time is now to expand our early warning system.”Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, along with Johanns, conducted a joint press conference today to prepare people for the possible arrival of the H5N1 virus in the US. The news conference was broadcast live via the Internet.The interagency plan, which received final approval today, Johanns said, relies on a number of methods to screen wild birds, notably birds migrating along the Pacific flyway to and from Alaska.The recent rapid spread of H5N1 in other countries underscores the likelihood of the virus spreading to the United States.”It is increasingly likely that we will detect the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu in birds within the US borders, possibly as early as this year,” Norton said. She outlined a plan for systematic monitoring of birds that includes:Testing of sick or dead wild birdsTesting of live wild birds, particularly the highest-risk species, using capture and sampling (not killing birds)Targeted sampling of hunter-killed birdsMonitoring and testing of sentinel animals, including backyard poultry flocks and waterfowl placed in wetlands to mix with migratory birdsTesting of environmental samples, including water and avian fecal samplesSystematic investigation of sick or dead wild birds offers the highest probability of detecting H5N1 early, Norton added. Authorities expect to collect 75,000 to 100,000 samples for testing in 2006. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Interior Department have tested more than 16,000 birds in the Pacific and Atlantic flyways since 1998, according to a news release. The birds have all tested negative for the lethal H5N1 strain, but 22 low-pathogenicity avian flu isolates have been identified.Samples will be tested at the appropriate laboratories, Norton said, but she cautioned that initial positive tests are considered presumptive, not definitive. Positive samples will be sent to the USDA’s national laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmatory testing.”We anticipate that presumptive H5N1 results may be announced 20 to 100 times this year,” she said. There could be dozens of reports of H5N1 without any highly pathogenic strains, she added.Discussing how the agencies will collaborate, Johanns said:The Interior Department will monitor wild birds through the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the US Geological Survey (USGS), as well as the National Park Service (NPS).The USDA has a connection to wild birds through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Agricultural Research Service, although its main focus is domestic flocks.HHS is chiefly responsible for human health.Johanns also described efforts to prevent the possible spread of H5N1 virus from wild to domestic birds.”None of us can build a cage around the United States,” he said. He emphasized that the nation’s $29 billion poultry system is highly biosecure, so the presence of H5N1 in migratory birds does not necessarily mean that commercial poultry will be infected. Further, he said the US has demonstrated an ability to handle outbreaks of highly pathogenic viruses, even as recently as 2004.In addition, producers will be compensated for destroyed birds, and they have demonstrated that they’ll notify the government at the first signs of illness among their birds, he said.”Unlike what we have seen in some countries, where producers are reluctant to report the virus because of economic losses, our producers know their loss will be covered if they call us,” Johanns said. Although he mentioned the possibility of limited vaccination in a ring around affected areas, he said culling of infected flocks would be the chief approach to eliminating the virus if it reaches commercial poultry.Leavitt provided an overview of preparations for a human pandemic that hewed closely to his talks at pandemic meetings in several states. He reiterated a point made by all three secretaries as they sought to prepare people for the arrival of the virus in US birds without provoking undue fear or panic.”At this point, if you’re a bird, it’s a pandemic,” Leavitt said. “If you’re a human being, it’s not. It’s as simple as that.”See also:USDA news release about the interagency briefingLink to recorded Webcast text of US strategy for early detection of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in wild birds, Mar 13, 2006 (91 pages) read more

Inmate climbs concrete fence, escapes jail

first_imgJR Ruiz was detained for the crime of rape before he bolted out of the lockup facility in Kalibo on Saturday. AKEAN FORUM The inmate was charged with rape in Libacao,Aklan. Ruiz managed to jump from the perimeter fencewithout being noticed by the jail guards.    Police urged residents to be vigilant as Ruizis considered dangerous.  JR Ruiz climbed the concrete fence at the backof the provincial jail in Barangay Nalook while a religious activity was beingconducted around 5 p.m. on Saturday. KALIBO, Aklan – Police launched a manhuntoperation against an inmate who bolted the lockup facility of a rehabilitationcenter in Kalibo. Investigation is ongoing if an accomplicehelped Ruiz escape.(With Akean Forum/PN)last_img read more

Groy emerges as next leader in line

first_imgAndy Fate / The Badger HeraldFor the Wisconsin football offensive line, adversity is nothing new.As the Badgers stumbled out of the gates last fall, much of Wisconsin’s slow start was blamed on the offensive line and its inability to open up space for then-senior running back Montee Ball – who was held to one touchdown against some of UW’s easiest opponents through the first two games, despite scoring an NCAA tying record of 39 touchdowns the season before.As the season wore on, the offensive line improved and before long, the Badgers were right back where they expected, helping Ball finish the season with some of the more impressive running statistics in the Big Ten.So when spring practice rolled around in March and the offensive line began to dwindle with injury after injury, a new offensive line corps – replacing veteran starters such as Ricky Wagner and Travis Frederick from a year ago – has taken the same approach that they did in the fall.“[It is a rallying point], absolutely,” redshirt senior Ryan Groy said. “You’ve got to deal with the injuries as they come. That will happen, so you’ve just got to deal with that adversity and go with it.”With projected starter redshirt junior Kyle Costigan out this spring with a knee injury and other players in and out with other injuries, it would have been easy, and maybe even understandable, for Groy and his positional group to consider the spring a lost cause.Instead, Groy and the remaining members of the offensive line – which at its leanest times has boasted just eight healthy players this spring – have chosen to look at the positives, citing the ability to work on some of the more intricate aspects of the game since it is not hard to come by reps.“With such a small group, you can really focus on guys,” Groy said. “You can really get nitpicky with little details and stuff like that. I think it’s almost easier this way.”For new offensive line coach TJ Woods, the ability to work with a smaller group of players this spring has been, in some ways, a blessing in disguise.In a tough, physical conference such as the Big Ten, injuries and wear and tear are expected. Woods said he believes the opportunity to practice this spring dealing with those types of situations could prove invaluable on fall Saturdays.“To me that is what this is preparing us for,” Woods said. “It’s the Big Ten, now. We’re going to have injuries. I mean every year is going to be like that, so we have to be able … to play different positions and have different lineups and still execute at a high level.”Still, while the offensive line’s situation may have its advantages, it also has its drawbacks.With fewer players to distribute reps to, the wear and tear of practice so far has already seen those that are healthy enough to play pick up a number of nicks and scrapes – forcing them to take turns missing a practice here and there in order to recover.As a result, the coaching staff has had to adjust spring practices – limiting many scenarios during practice and even adjusting the upcoming spring game into more of a controlled scrimmage – so as not to aggravate the situation further.Helping Woods guide the team through this tough stretch and what could be considered a transitional spring season with both Frederick and Wagner moving on to the NFL draft, has been Groy.Now one of the most experienced players on Wisconsin roster, Groy has taken it upon himself to help the younger guys in the new-look offensive line as they head into the new season – working hard to set an example both on and off the practice field.And his coach and teammates have noticed.“Ryan is trying to fill that role right now, and he has been doing a good job of it,” Woods said of the redshirt senior. “But we need some more than just Ryan and we’re trying to work to cultivate that.“We’ve got some younger guys who’ve got some experience and I think that’s part of the transition.”“For me, I have never played in a game yet,” redshirt freshman Dan Voltz added, who’s been practicing as the starting center on the No. 1 offensive line for Wisconsin. “So having guys like Groy who have played a lot, they can pick out all of the little things that you are going to see in games during practice, and that is really helpful for all of us.”Still, despite all of the challenges and inexperience that Groy and the offensive line have faced this spring, their goal remains the same: to maintain their reputation as one of the best offensive lines in the country.“We want to become that dominating line that we once were,” Groy said. “We really want to roll over some people next fall.”last_img read more