Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News - Vaccinating Birds Might Limit Avian Flu Spread, Research Contends

MONDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Mass vaccination of poultry at risk for avian flu may be effective in preventing the infection from spreading in birds, Dutch researchers report.

In chickens vaccinated against the H7N7 strain of bird flu, two different vaccines were each able to block viral transmission and prevent an outbreak two weeks after immunization, the study found.

"We could also not show infection of a contact chicken that was not protected. These vaccines really work very well against spreading," said lead author Dr. J.A. van der Goot, a researcher at the Central Institute for Animal Disease Control in Lelystad, the Netherlands.

Her team concluded that vaccinating poultry may be effective in preventing the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses.

However, the flu strain they tested is not the H5N1 strain, which is currently thought to pose a risk to humans.

The report appears in the Nov. 28 early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to van der Goot, "We wanted to look at the effectiveness of vaccines against avian influenza. We wanted not only to look at the effectiveness for the individual chicken, but we wanted to look at the effect of vaccination on the transmission of the virus."

Vaccinating chickens is a good strategy for containing the bird flu in Europe, where the vaccines are good, a U.S. poultry science expert contended.

But in the United States, "the whole thing with bird flu vaccines is they are not very good," added Joseph Giambrone, a professor of poultry science at Auburn University.

- Forbes.com

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