Jan 12, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – An H5N1 avian influenza virus recovered from a Turkish patient has a mutation that may enable the virus to spread more easily from birds to humans, though the finding’s significance for human health is not yet clear, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.Viruses recovered from the first two Turkish children to die of avian flu have been analyzed in London, the WHO said. A sample from one of the patients has a mutation at “the receptor-binding site,” a reference to hemagglutinin, a protein that enables flu viruses to attach to and enter host cells.”One of the mutations has been seen previously in viruses isolated from a small outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003 (two cases, one of which was fatal) and from the 2005 outbreak in Viet Nam,” the WHO said. “Research has indicated that the Hong Kong 2003 viruses bind preferentially to human cell receptors more so than to avian cell receptors. Researchers at the Mill Hill [London] laboratory anticipate that the Turkish virus will also have this characteristic.”What the finding may mean for human health will depend on clinical and epidemiological data now being gathered in Turkey, the agency said. It added that it has found no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission of the virus in any country so far.In a Washington Post report today, the WHO’s Michael Perdue called the finding “a little concerning because the virus is still trying new things in its evolution.” Perdue is overseeing the WHO’s response to the Turkish outbreak from agency headquarters in Geneva, the story said.The WHO statement did not suggest whether the mutation could be a factor in the rapid increase in reported human cases in Turkey since the first two were revealed Jan 4. The number reached 18 today with the report that three more Turkish children have tested positive for an H5 avian flu virus, a finding that usually points to H5N1. The tests were done in a Turkish lab.The cases include two children, aged 4 and 6, in Sanliurfa province in southern Turkey and in Siirt province in the east, the WHO reported. Both had contact with sick birds. The other patient was a 12-year-old girl who died Jan 7 in eastern Turkey and was the sister of two teenagers who died of avian flu earlier.The WHO so far has officially recognized just four cases in Turkey on the basis of confirmation by outside labs.The analysis by the British lab showed that the viruses from the two Turkish children were very similar to H5N1 viruses recovered from birds in Turkey, the WHO said. The viruses were also closely related to viruses isolated from migratory birds that died at the Qinghai Lake nature reserve in China last spring.The WHO said the studies also indicate that the Turkish viruses are sensitive to both classes of antiviral drugs used against flu: oseltamivir (a neuraminidase inhibitor) and amantadine (an adamantane). H5N1 viruses are usually described as insensitive to adamantanes, though some strains have been susceptible.”WHO and collaborating experts will review the data on amantadine sensitivity. Oseltamivir remains the drug of first choice recommended by WHO,” the agency said.The agency said its pandemic alert level is still in phase 3: “human infections with a new virus subtype are occurring, but the vast majority of these infections are acquired directly from animals.”See also:Jan 12 WHO news releasehttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_01_12/en/index.html
A package of tourist laws was also on the agenda of today’s session of the Parliament.The most important among them is certainly the proposal Of the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, which needs to be revised not only to implement the measures set out in the Tourism Development Strategy for the period until 2020, but also to increase its overall efficiency, especially at regional and local level, all to ensure preconditions for systematic implementation of destination management.The most important changes in the proposal of the mentioned law concern the establishment of the system of tourist boards according to the model of destination management organizations, in the sense that the tourist system is reorganized through merging and rationalization within the system with the application of the principle of financial self-sufficiency. For several units of local or regional self-government through the allocation of financial resources. Also, the tasks of tourist boards are redefined while respecting the principle of self-sufficiency, in such a way that the tasks of the local tourist board are defined exclusively as operational. , while the tasks of the regional tourist community are focused on operational activities, but with certain strategic elements through four basic groups of tasks: strategic planning and development, tourism system management, information and research, and marketing. The tasks of the CNTB, as a national tourism organization, are primarily focused on marketing and promoting tourism at the national level. Among the important changes contained in the draft law is the amendment limiting the share of members in the assembly to local tourist boards to 30% (instead of 40% so far), all in order to prevent individual entities from having the upper hand in decision-making.Proposal Law on membership fees in tourist boards contains novelties that will simplify the membership fee calculation process, and due to administrative relief and reduction of business costs create a better business environment. In particular, tourist classes are abolished, and consequently membership fee rates will not be determined depending on the tourist class. for the calculation of the membership fee from the current 28 to 5, the obligation to pay the membership fee is deleted for a part of the taxpayer, while the scope of payment of the same is reduced for a part of the taxpayer. Banks are also obliged to pay membership fees. Legal and natural persons operating in assisted areas (groups I-IV) will pay a membership fee reduced by 20%. It is also proposed a different distribution of tourist membership fees in such a way that regional tourist boards instead of the current 10% of the mentioned source of income will receive 15%, while the CNTB will receive 25% instead of the previous 20%. It is anticipated that these measures will relieve the economy of around HRK 11 million annually.Basic changes in the proposal Of the Tourist Tax Act relate to the decentralization of decision-making on the amount of tourist tax. Specifically, the amount of the tourist tax would no longer be determined by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, but by the county assemblies, ie the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb, while the Minister of Tourism would regulate only the minimum and maximum amount of the tourist tax. Among the most important innovations are those concerning the different distribution of tourist tax funds, so that regional tourist boards would receive 10% instead of the current 15%, while the CNTB would receive 25% of the total amount of the tax instead of the current 20%.You can see the whole presentation and discussion below in the attachment.In the meantime, there is no need to worry about it. ”
The coach of the National U-21 female Hockey team Ben Odametey says the performance of the both the male and female national teams in the just ended hockey tourney in South Africa should spur government on to provide the necessary infrastructure to propel the sports forward.According to him, the performance of the female side who are now ranked 2nd on the continent is ample evidence that given the right support and infrastructure, the team could compete with the very best on the continent.He expressed his misgivings at the lack of quality astro turfs to nurse the next generation of hockey stars.Coach Odamtten was speaking to Joy Sports on the prospects of team Ghana and the need for governmental support.“As you know, the female team is currently ranked second on the continent even with the meager resources available to us. We have strived to get to the very top through hard work but that alone is not enough. A certain level of governmental support will do us a world of good. As a nation, we have only one astro turf which is not good enough. The sad thing is it is located in the southern sector thus people who are interested in the sport in other regions rarely get to benefit in anyway. We pray the government comes to our aid in this regard so that we can also compete with the South Africans and beyond.”The female hockey team came out tops in the just ended hockey U-21 Championship which ended in South Africa a couple of days ago.