Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News - Reuters AlertNet - Hong Kong, Singapore stocking up for H5N1 testing

HONG KONG, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Health authorities in wealthier parts of Asia are stocking up on diagnostic kits and chemicals to detect the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, which experts fear could mutate and trigger a pandemic that could kill millions.

In Hong Kong, government laboratories have bought more reagents, or chemicals used in testing for the virus, while private doctors in Singapore will soon be urged to stockpile rapid-test diagnostic kits, industry sources said.

Governments everywhere are scrambling to stock up on anti-viral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. These are believed to reduce the symptoms and complications caused by the H5N1 virus, which is part of the influenza A type of viruses.

But both drugs are expensive and supplies are tight.

To prevent wastage and severe strain on healthcare systems, medical experts say it is crucial to quickly eliminate other forms of influenza, such as B and C, and narrow diagnoses down as far as possible to H5N1.

Reuters AlertNet - Hong Kong, Singapore stocking up for H5N1 testing

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