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Bird flu hits UK newspapers

H5n1 grown in mdck CDC Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith, Jacqueline Katz, and Sherif R. Zaki.jpgPosted on behalf of Katrina Charles, BA Media Fellow

See also: Bird flu (news) strikes again

Bird flu has hit the news again, at least it has in the UK – not thanks to a case but thanks to a press release.

Alan McNally from Nottingham Trent University and his team, say that they are developing a portable testing machine for bird flu. At the moment it takes two to three days to identify the strain, or up to a week in countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam, which are most affected by the virus, says the Times. It is claimed that this new technology will detect cases of bird flu from saliva swabs in two hours (BBC).

The Daily Mail give details of what has actually been done: “Dr McNally and his team have been designing the tests which will be carried out.”

“They have now completed this research, which will be passed to a French company to design the machine itself. It is expected to be completed by December 2010.”


This £2.3 million project, known as Portfastflu, is being funded by the European Union. Apparently French, Irish, Spanish and Belgian researchers are also involved (Portfastflu press release), but perhaps they are involved in the next stage of making the machine. Although a quick search on Google News for Portfastflu shows that the story has been picked up in Spain.

In the rest of the world bird flu is making the headlines with the detection of a strain of highly pathogenic bird flu in Nigeria which has previously not been recorded in sub-Saharan Africa but is similar to strains identified in the Italy, Afghanistan and Iran, last year (FAO). And Australia is concerned that its doctors “might stay at home and decline to treat patients in the event of a bird flu pandemic, for fear that they or their families might become infected” (MJA paper).

Image: electron micrograph of H5N1 (brown) grown in MDCK cells (green) / CDC/ Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith, Jacqueline Katz, and Sherif R. Zaki

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