The avian flu virus has been detected in one more country—Spain. The agriculture ministry announced that the virus strain was found in a great crested grebe in a marsh area outside the northern city of Vitoria. Spanish authorities claim that they had been prepared for this. Since Spain lies in the route of northern-bound migratory birds from Africa, it was inevitable that the virus would enter the country.
The detection of the avian flu virus in Spain has caused its neighbor Portugal to reinforce its anti-bird flu measures. According to Agriculture Minister Jaime Silva, Portugal has for some time had a contingency plan in place but he did not think it was time yet to panic. The bird flu virus has not been detected in the thousands of birds that have been tested so far. Luiz Kosta, head of the country's national ornithology research institute, said the crested grebe detected with the H5N1 virus in Spain also lives in Portugal. So experts would not overlook the likelihood that the crested grebes in Portugal also carry the virus.
A British drug company has requested permission to conduct human trials for a possible avian flu vaccine. The company PowderMed claims to have developed a possible vaccine that can be administered without a needle. The experimental vaccine uses strands of DNA that are a faster and cheaper alternative to conventional vaccines. The volunteers in the trial will be vaccinated with a handheld device on their upper arm. The device will discharge harmless, microscopic gold particles coated in the vaccine into the body at supersonic speeds. Plans for the trial have been submitted to the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
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