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Bird Flu Vaccine Less Effective, Warns Expert

by 5m Editor
11 July 2008, at 1:42pm

HONG KONG - A poultry vaccine developed to protect chickens from the H5 strain of the avian flu virus has become less effective over the past seven years of use.

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) reports that Yuen Kwok-yung (Head of the Microbiology Department, University of Hong Kong), told the South China Morning Post newspaper that the virus is shifting away from the Fujian strain for which it was developed. The comment was reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA).

Dr Yuen made it clear to city officials that they must ban all live chickens from markets before the vaccine becomes completely ineffective, according to the DPA report. Tests on birds in 2005 suggested that the vaccine generated only 25% of the antibody response that it did in 2001.

"It takes time for the manufacturers to produce new vaccines. Hong Kong is taking its own risk if it still has live chickens in the market," Dr Yuen said.

In early June, the virus was detected in poultry faeces at several stalls at the market. The reason for the testing has not been explained but since then, poultry cannot be kept overnight at the market and a total ban on live poultry in Hong Kong markets has been proposed.

5m Editor