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Article Released Thu-4th-August-2005 11:06 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Epidemiology: Antivirals and isolation can curb bird flu outbreak in humans

Up to three million courses of anti-flu drugs, as well as a policy of isolating groups at risk, would be needed to ward off a human outbreak of avian flu in Southeast Asia.

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Epidemiology: Antivirals and isolation can curb bird flu outbreak in humans
(AOP)

DOI: 10.1038/nature04017

Up to three million courses of anti-flu drugs, as well as a policy of
isolating groups at risk, would be needed to ward off a human outbreak of
avian flu in Southeast Asia, according to a new epidemiological analysis.
The disease is currently rife in the region's poultry stocks, and health
experts fear a human pandemic if the virus becomes more easily transmissible
between people.

Neil Ferguson and his colleagues modelled the potential spread of the deadly
H5N1 virus in the event of a human outbreak emerging in the region. As they
report in a study published online by Nature, a nascent pandemic could be
controlled by a combination of "geographically targeted prophylaxis" -
involving antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir, also called Tamiflu - and
"social distancing measures" such as school closures and travel
restrictions.

There is currently no effective vaccine against H5N1, the authors add. This
underlines the need for drug stockpiling, vigilant public health monitoring
and speedy reaction times. The researchers calculate that starting a
containment policy when an outbreak was no bigger than 40 cases, and then
isolating and treating the population around each newly identified case
within two days could limit any outbreak to about 150 cases and potentially
prevent millions of deaths.

CONTACT
Neil Ferguson (Imperial College London, UK)
Tel: +44 207 594 3296, or +44 7974 921 856; E-mail:
neil.ferguson@imperial.ac.uk <mailto:neil.ferguson@imperial.ac.uk>

Please note this paper is being released in tandem with a related research
article being published this week by the journal Science.

A joint press briefing, for reporters only will take place at 10:00 am at
the Science Media Centre, 21 Albemarle Street, London, under strict embargo
until 1800 hours London time (1300 US Eastern Time) Wednesday, 3 August,
2005

The speakers are:
Prof Neil Ferguson, Imperial College London, author of the Nature paper
Prof Ira Longini, Emory University, author of the Science paper (via a
telephone link)
Dr Peter Aldhous, Nature

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Keywords associated to this article: bird flu, avian flu, H5N1,
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