first_imgApr 14, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – H5N1 influenza viruses found in chickens seized at Vietnam’s border with China in 2008 show a surprising level of genetic diversity, suggesting that the viruses are evolving rapidly and raising questions about disease surveillance and the effectiveness of prepandemic H5N1 vaccines, according to a team of Vietnamese and US scientists.The findings suggest that the subgroup of viruses identified in the study has been circulating in the region either undetected or unreported for a “considerable amount of time,” the report says. The viruses are in clade 7, a group that has not been found in an outbreak since one in China’s Shanxi province in 2006.Also, given the degree of difference between these clade 7 viruses and those used to make human H5N1 vaccines, “it is unclear whether or not humoral antibodies elicited by current vaccine candidates will have cross-neutralization activity against the new viruses,” says the report, published recently in Virology.The study was conducted by scientists from Vietnam’s National Center for Veterinary Diagnostics in Hanoi and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the CDC’s Ruben O. Donis as the senior author.Vietnam bans the importation of poultry from H5N1-infected countries. The viruses analyzed in the study came from imported illegal chickens seized at border control stations in Vietnam’s Lang Son province, on the Chinese border. Authorities confiscated 495 chickens at the border stations in the first 5 months of 2008 and tested them for avian flu. Fifteen birds were found infected with H5N1 virus, and two others had an H9N2 virus.The authors extracted RNA from the 15 H5N1 isolates, amplified it, and analyzed the sequence of the hemagglutinin (HA) genes. They found that all 15 HA genes fit within a subgroup of previously identified clade 7 viruses. They determined that 13 of the 15 HA genes fell into two further subgroups, which they labeled A and B.The isolates within groups A and B were very closely related, but the groups differed considerably from each other, with an average divergence of 4.05% in HA nucleotide sequences and 5.69% in amino acid sequences, the report says. The authors also determined that the isolates differed by an average of 3.67% and 5.81% from the most closely related previous clade 7 isolate, which came from a chicken in China’s Shanxi province in 2006.In comparing the viruses with representatives of other H5N1 clades, the investigators found they were most closely related a clade 4 virus (a 2006 isolate from Guiyang province of China) and most distantly related to a clade 1 virus, a 2004 isolate from Vietnam. The respective differences in amino acid sequences were 8.20% and 9.07%.The genetic distance between the HAs of these clade 7 viruses and the isolates used to make prepandemic vaccines raises doubt as to whether antibodies generated by the vaccines would react with the clade 7 viruses, the authors write. They say the viruses used in the vaccines represent clade 1 (from Vietnam, 2004), clade 2.1.3 (Indonesia, 2005), clade 2.2 (Qinghai province, China, 2005), and clade 2.3.4 (Anhui province, China, 2005).The authors used ferret serum samples to test whether antibodies generated against five of the clade 7 viruses would cross-react with viruses from other clades and vice versa. Using hemagglutination inhibition assays, they found that samples (antisera) with antibodies against clades 1 and 2.3.4 did not cross-react with a clade 7 virus, and antisera against that same clade 7 virus did not react with clade 1 and clade 2.3.4 viruses. Also, antisera to the clade 7 virus showed limited cross-reactivity with each of four other clade 7 isolates, suggesting “some, albeit minimal” antigenic similarity among the viruses.The authors write that the identification of two distinct subgroups (groups A and B) of clade 7 viruses “may suggest that these viruses originated from two distinct regions or host populations isolated from each other.”They say the isolates they analyzed were remarkably diverse, given that other studies of H5N1 viruses in a single clade have shown a nucleotide divergence of no more than 1.5%. They also observe, “The high degree of genetic divergence from previously identified clade 7 viruses also indicates that this subgroup of viruses has likely been circulating undetected or unreported for a considerable amount of time as poultry outbreaks caused by clade 7 H5N1 viruses were last reported in Shanxi province, China in 2006.”The findings point up the need for border controls and strong virologic surveillance to detect and prevent the spread of “exotic” H5N1 viruses from country to country, the authors conclude.Dr. Les Sims of Australia’s Asia-Pacific Veterinary Information Services called the study “an important piece of work” that offers another sign of gaps in avian flu surveillance systems in Asia.”Unexplained gaps in the evolution of H5N1 virus HA genes suggest that surveillance systems have not been able to detect all cases of infection,” Sims, who is a consultant to the United National Food and Agriculture Organization, told CIDRAP News by e-mail.Other signs of holes in surveillance efforts include the detection of H5N1 virus in humans before finding it in nearby poultry, finding the virus in intermittent testing in poultry markets, and infected dead poultry washing up on Hong Kong’s beaches, Sims said.Clade 7 viruses have been found in various places in China, including Shanxi, Yunnan, and Hebei provinces, he reported, adding, “One of the recent human cases in Jiangsu was apparently due to a clade 7 virus, based on newspaper reports.””The antigenic variation is not surprising given that clade 7 viruses have been shown to be antigenic variants previously,” Sims said. But the findings from the ferret sera should be tested further with challenge trials in poultry vaccinated with existing vaccines, he added.The difference between a 2006 clade 7 virus found in China—cited in the study as the closest previously identified relative of the viruses the authors analyzed—and existing vaccine antigens “led to the incorporation of a new antigen into some Chinese poultry vaccines,” he said. “These vaccines containing a clade 7 antigen have been used extensively in China.” He added that there have been no reports of vaccine failures in Vietnam resulting from antigenic variants.Sims said the antigenic changes in the clade 7 virus might potentially have been spurred by poultry vaccination efforts. “We need to balance measures to reduce the amount of circulating virus, which vaccination of poultry can do, against the potential ‘harm’ that might occur if antigenic variants emerge,” he stated. “We should expect antigenic variants to emerge and ensure that appropriate measures are in place to detect these at an early stage.”Nguyen T, Davis CT, Stembridge W, et al. Characterization of a highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus sublineage in poultry seized at ports of entry into Vietnam. Virology 2009 (early online publication) [Abstract]last_img

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first_imgThere has been a significant increase in the number of applications and acceptances from ethnic minority students, according to recently published figures by the University. In the most competitive year in the University’s history, applications from black ethnic minorities for undergraduate entry in 2007 rose by 19% with acceptances increasing by 21%. Both educational charities and parliamentary figures welcomed the news. A spokesman for the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to get brighter students from non-traditional backgrounds into top universities, said, “We are delighted that the latest figures show an increase in students going to Oxford University from ethnic minority backgrounds. We would like to congratulate the University.” A motion tabled for Parliament by Dr. Evan Harris, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, also acknowledged the work the University had done to raise the achievement and aspirations among black boys. The motion stated, “This House welcomes the University of Oxford Black Boys Can Programme which is run in conjunction with the National Black Boys Can Association, wishes the 26 students in this year’s programme every success, and encourages more higher education institutions in the UK to participate in such schemes.” The joint venture involves residential programmes in Oxford as well as follow up training days and talks for parents on how best to support their boy’s aspirations. Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, said, “Competition for a place to study at Oxford University has been fiercer than ever last year. It is good to see that specifically targeted outreach activities, such as our work with black ethnic minorities, is beginning to bear fruit. We are grateful for Evan Harris MP’s interest and support for our work with the National Black Boys Can Association.” However, there have been reservations concerning the relevance of the latest statistics. A spokesman for the NBBCA said, “We need to look behind the figures.” He argued that a closer look at the data revealed an increase in students from “dualheritage backgrounds” and not necessarily those from African and Afr can- Caribbean backgrounds. He went on to say that more still needed to be done to widen participation at the Red Brick universities. “One of the things they could try is to go into inner city black communities and conduct some sessions in schools so that brighter students from those areas do not feel intimidated, but think ‘I can be there as well’.” The call for more action coincides with increased efforts by the university to widen access. In November a visit by the US Civil Rights Leader, Rev Jesse Jackson, launched the ASPIRE initiative aimed at encouraging more black students to apply to the University through mentoring schemes. At the event hosted by Regent’s Park College, Rev Jackson called for the University to reflect the diversity of society. Meanwhile a University spokesperson explained how the University would increase its work on widening access through a “new Student Funding and Access Office which brings together functions which were previously distributed across the administration.” James Lamming, Vice-President of OUSU, added, “OUSU, the Oxford Access Scheme and the University have all been investing in encouraging applications from all backgrounds, through open days, school visits, residentials and guides such as the OUSU Alternative Prospectus. OUSU hopes to see the University continue investing in the schemes, like the Summer Schools, that have proven to be most successful, and targeting support to help talented students from all backgrounds who have so far not enjoyed the greatest educational opportunities.” Yet Oxford continues to attract criticism after the latest admission statistics revealed that the number of state school pupils who were admitted had not risen. Of those who gained a place to study for 2007 entry, 46.8% were from the Maintained sector, a slight decrease on the percentage for the previous year. This follows a Sutton Trust report which claimed that a small number of top independent schools provided one third of all admissions to Oxbridge. A spokesman for the Sutton Trust said that they “hope the number of youngsters going to Oxford from state schools and poorer homes will also increase, as students from these backgrounds remain under-represented.” Last year there were 13,639 applications in total, an increase of 8.1%, which is the largest number ever recorded. From these there were 3,160 acceptances. This equates to an overall success rate of 23.2%, nearly 2% down on the previous year’s figure of 25.4%. by Katherine Halllast_img

first_imgState Won’t Appeal Order Blocking Abortion LawDave Stafford for www.theindianalawyer.comA federal judge’s order blocking a divisive and restrictive abortion law signed this year by Gov. Mike Pence will not be appealed, Indiana Lawyer has learned. The decision not to appeal at this time effectively punts a decision on a possible future appeal to new state office-holders to be elected in November.District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in Indianapolis on June 30 granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, blocking House Enrolled Act 1337 from taking effect July 1. The deadline for a notice of appeal of Pratt’s injunction order passed without a notice of appeal filed by the state. Pratt’s ruling, while appealable, was not a final judgment in the case, but she wrote that her ruling was based on the legal conclusion that Planned Parenthood was likely to succeed on the merits of its argument that the law was unconstitutional.The law Pratt blocked would have prohibited abortions because of genetic abnormality, race, sex or ancestry; mandated disposal of an aborted fetus only through burial or cremation; and required abortion providers to inform patients of the law’s anti-discrimination provisions and what they prohibited. Proponents of the law characterized it as an anti-discrimination measure providing dignity for the unborn; opponents termed it an unprecedented assault on a woman’s right to abortion recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade.“After reviewing the case with our clients and discussing the case procedurally with the plaintiffs, the State has no need to pursue an interlocutory appeal at this point since all the State’s legal rights are preserved,” said Bryan Corbin, spokesman for Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “Instead, the case will proceed on the merits to the final judgment stage, with additional briefing before the same U.S. District Court. The parties will work on proposing a joint case management plan setting forth deadlines for future actions in the case. If there were a final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, then the State would likely appeal that.”Pence spokeswoman Kara Brooks referred a message seeking comment to the AG’s office.American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk said Planned Parenthood would now move for summary judgment in the case. Briefing alone on that motion will extend beyond the Nov. 8 general election, he said. That means the decision on whether to appeal Pratt’s ruling is likely to be made by whomever voters elect in November as governor and attorney general.Pence is running for vice president with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, while Zoeller opted not to seek another term as AG after losing a Republican primary for a congressional race. Democrat John Gregg and Republican Eric Holcomb are running for governor; Democrat Lorenzo Arredondo and Republican Curtis Hill are the candidates for attorney general.Pratt’s ruling came the same week the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-3 decision rolled back a restrictive Texas abortion law. Justices found the Texas law’s increased regulations on abortion clinics were medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limited a woman’s right to an abortion.Since that decision and the striking of HEA 1337, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky also sued the state seeking an injunction against a 2016 Indiana abortion law requiring women to have an ultrasound at least 18 hours before an abortion.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img

first_img (Photo supplied/St Vincent de Paul Society) The St. Vincent de Paul Society will continue emergency food assistance to neighbors in need during the COVID-19 outbreak and urgently needs community support to meet increased demand on services.“Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, people are still struggling in poverty,” says Executive Director Anne Watson. “We are continuing to provide food and have implemented precautions to prevent transmission of the virus in order to protect our staff, volunteers, and those we are serving. Today, we packed 200 boxes to distribute with help from volunteers and board members, but we know we will need to provide more. We ask that the community join us and help by making a monetary donation.”This past year, SVDP served more than 46,000 people with food—through its Client Choice Food Pantry and through home deliveries of food. SVDP also provided more than $72,000 in rent and utility assistance and distributed 112 beds to children through its Sweet Dreams Ministry.Watson says, “We strive to move people from being in a crisis to being in control. Our work would not be possible without the support of our community.”Donations can be made by sending cash or check to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at 520 Crescent Avenue, South Bend, IN 46617 or by visiting their website and clicking “donate.” Facebook St. Vincent de Paul Society needs support to meet donation demand By Jon Zimney – March 17, 2020 0 281 Pinterest Facebook Google+ Pinterest Google+ CoronavirusIndianaLocalNews Twitter WhatsApp Twitter WhatsApp Previous articleChanges at Humane Society of St. Joseph County due to COVID-19Next articleMan shot on Western Avenue on Monday dies, suspect arrested Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney.last_img

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