H5N1 virus has not grown more dangerous, experts say

first_imgJun 29, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – An international team of experts has concluded that the H5N1 avian influenza virus in Vietnam has not recently improved its ability to spread to or among humans, according to news reports published today.The finding suggests that the immediate risk of a flu pandemic is lower than previously believed, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.The report quotes Hans Troedsson, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) representative in Vietnam, as saying, “What was reported to the government is that, according to preliminary findings, they could not find any indication showing that the virus has actually extended its range in humans.”The specimens analyzed by the team of epidemiologists and virologists “did not show changes,” Troedsson told AFP. He called the finding “very good news indeed.””The most important thing is that we could rule out that there was an immediate, imminent pandemic,” Troedsson said. “Since the virus is widely spread, the risk is still there but not as imminent as we initially might have suspected.”The story said the team concluded from “preliminary data” that the virus is not showing any increase in the efficiency of its transmission from birds to humans or from humans to humans.In addition, the experts did not find evidence of previously undetected asymptomatic or mild human cases of H5N1 infection, Troedsson told AFP. The story did not specify how the team looked for such evidence.Hitoshi Oshitani, leader of the team and regional advisor on communicable disease surveillance for the WHO, struck a cautious tone.”We did not find any indications to show that the H5N1 virus is extending its range in humans, though clearly it retains that capability should it change,” the Chinese news service Xinhua quoted him as saying.The AFP story quoted Oshitani as saying, “While it’s good news that we haven’t documented a significant increase in the extent of transmission in humans, there is still no greater threat to winning the battle against avian influenza than complacency.”The team recommended that the Vietnamese government increase its surveillance of the virus in both animals and humans, Xinhua reported. In addition, the group advised the Vietnamese to share samples from future suspected cases with a WHO reference laboratory outside Vietnam for independent confirmation and quality assurance.The team included experts from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Xinhua reported. They left Vietnam yesterday after spending a week there.In May, a panel of experts convened by the WHO in Manila had reported that changing patterns of cases in northern Vietnam suggested that the H5N1 virus might be becoming more infectious for humans. The panel had cited an increase in case clusters, an increase in patients’ average age, and a decrease in the case-fatality rate.The panel also had said genetic studies indicated that H5N1 viruses were becoming more antigenically diverse.In today’s AFP report, Troedsson said the experts who just left Vietnam were able to do “more advanced testing” than had been done at the time of the Manila meeting. The story didn’t say what kinds of tests were done.Elsewhere, Singapore said it has begun preparing for a flu pandemic by stockpiling an antiviral drug and taking steps to secure a vaccine, according to another AFP report today.The country’s health ministry said it has begun buying oseltamivir (Tamiflu), which is used to prevent and treat flu. In addition, the story said, the ministry is exploring possible collaborations with vaccine manufacturers to produce H5N1 vaccines and ensure access to vaccines when they become available.According to the WHO, 108 people have contracted H5N1 infections and 54 have died since the current series of outbreaks began in late 2003.last_img read more

Investigators praised for fight against child porn

first_imgNZ Herald 25 June 2012The war against child pornography in New Zealand has resulted in o close to 200 convictions over the past five years, officials say. A Rotorua man is the latest sent to jail after a Department of Internal Affairs investigation. Steve O’Brien, who heads the department’s censorship compliance unit, told the Herald his team was making a “major impact” nationally and globally, and its approach has been described as world-leading. Forty-two-year-old Christopher David Harold Grant was sent to prison on Friday for three years after a tip-off from a US agency led investigators to him. In December 2010, a complaint to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the United States revealed Grant had uploaded images of teenagers aged 13 to 15 in naked poses to a website three months before. He was arrested as part of an international investigation which resulted in five arrests in New Zealand and 55 others in 20 countries. Mr O’Brien said the most important part of his unit’s work was that it involved innocent children.…In other recent serious cases, Papamoa Beach cargo fumigation technician Cameron Mark Dunn last month admitted possessing and distributing child pornography – including images of babies and toddlers being sexually abused – over three years. In March, a Waikato businessman was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention after he was caught sharing files with an undercover investigator online.http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10815206last_img read more

Women’s hoops still adjusting to new-look offense

first_imgNobody said it would ever be easy.A period of transition between two coaches and two different styles of the game is difficult. Seasoned upperclassmen are reduced to freshman, as the learning curve is sometimes higher for the members of the team who are more used to the old way than the new faces. For the Wisconsin women’s basketball team, this early part of the season has been one of growing pains under the new approach taken by head coach Bobbie Kelsey.No longer do the Badgers run the motion offense – a staple under former coach Lisa Stone – but play a more up-tempo brand of offense brought by Kelsey from her time at Stanford. One of the largest problems thus far for the Badgers’ offense has been limiting their turnovers. Averaging 18.1 turnovers a game, the Badgers’ offense has struggled to find its groove.However, the Badgers have shown improvement as the season has progressed, as the team committed a season-low 12 turnovers against Saint Louis Monday.“We’re starting to feel a lot more comfortable in the offense,” sophomore guard Morgan Paige said. “At the beginning you could tell people really didn’t fully understand where they were supposed to be going or where the ball was supposed to be at, at a particular moment. “In the beginning the turnovers were happening because we were new to the sets we were running. Now I’d say it’s getting to the time where we can’t make that excuse anymore, we’re starting to learn the offense and get it down. Now the turnovers are more because of pressure than not knowing the sets.”Kelsey, like Paige, believes that the offense will be a work in progress as the players continue to adapt to the new style and discover specific strengths and options each individual brings to the team’s new approach.“We’ve cut down on a lot of unnecessary dribbling,” Kelsey said. “The more the ball moves out of your hand, the greater the possibility of it getting stolen. The more they run things and play together, the more they figure out who can do what and give them the ball where they can get the open shot.“That’s the key to any offense, getting open looks and knocking down the open looks. They just need to keep getting into the offense faster, move the ball and cut down on the dribbling. It helps your offense to flow better.”With the large turnover statistic, most of the opponents the Badgers have faced have brought the pressure. Until the Badgers bring down the turnover numbers or have a game where they effectively dominate defensive pressure, the offense will not only struggle, but also entice opposing teams to bring pressure throughout the game.“We’ve seen pressure from pretty much every team we’ve played because we had so many turnovers in the first games of the year,” junior guard Taylor Wurtz said. “People think Wisconsin can’t handle it but we’re getting better as the season goes on. We value the ball and every possession in practice and eventually that will transfer over into the games consistently.”Another thorn in the Badgers’ side has been their defense. Wisconsin is currently allowing their opponents to shoot 41.8 percent from the field, one of the highest percentages in the country.However, there is reason to believe the Badgers will continually improve in this area. The Badgers held Saint Louis to 28 percent from the field earlier this week in one of the Wisconsin defense’s best performances of the year. Most of the looks the team has given up to opponents are very close to the basket, resulting from offensive rebounds and fast break points off of steals and turnovers.The correlation between high turnovers and the high opponent shooting percentages is evident. The two games where the Badgers have committed their highest turnover mark of the season have also been two of the games where the Badgers have given up the highest shooting percentage to their opponent.“A lot of the easy points our opponents have scored comes from second chance points and points off turnovers,” Paige said. “In our losses the percentages are high because the other team is getting a lot of short shots and layups. I feel like that percentage will go down when our mistakes will go down.”“It’s a matter of putting it all together,” Kelsey said. “We haven’t played our best game yet. We’ve seen flashes of it, but it hasn’t happened yet.”last_img read more

Another brace for Gordon, as MBU win again

first_imgWESTERN BUREAU:”We can run with the fastest of them, we can play hard with the toughest of them, and still outscore the best of them,” warns hot Montego Bay United (MBU) striker Owayne Gordon, following another two goal blast that extended MBU’s lead atop the Red Stripe Premier League to five points.MBU registered a 2-0 win on Thursday night over Tivoli Gardens in a rescheduled fixture at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.The double gives Gordon four goals in two consecutive matches and thirteen in all for the season, just one goal behind out-of-action teammate Dino Williams (14) at the top of the goalscoring chart. Williams, who was spotted at Thursday’s match has inked a deal to play in the US for the remainder of the season.Gordon opened the scoring for MBU in the 32nd minute from a direct long kick from goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett.The ball took one bounce and Gordon used his speed to get by two defenders before employing a majestic chip over the advancing Davin Watkins in goal for Tivoli.His second was a superb effort from a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area in the 81st minute of play to seal victory for the title chasers, who now move five points clear of champions Arnett Gardens FC (49 pts) to be on 54 pts.The leaders were tasting victory for a fourth consecutive time in five matches and Gordon believes it will only get better from here.”The team is playing really well at the moment and with me scoring the goals, I think we are on our way to another title.”I am a confident player and right now I am feeling good. I hope my goals will take us to the Premiership title and that is all I want,” reasoned Gordon, who is emerging as MBU’s top goal getter in the absence of Williams.He enjoyed a good outing, but had to dig deep as the game became a physical affair. Both teams had their players flying into crunching tackles and both ended with 10 players after referee Danion Parchment issued red cards for dangerous tackles.MBU defender John Barrett was sent off with a straight red in the 45th minute, while Tivoli suffered the same fate in the 88th minute, when Romaine Breakenridge committed a second bookable offence.Tivoli remain just above the bottom two (Rivoli 22 pts and Waterhouse FC 21 pts). They have 29 points with the defeat that snapped their two-game mini-streak.last_img read more