It is estimated that about 25 per cent of the particles in the ash resulting from the eruption of the Eyjafjalla volcano on 14 April are less than 10 microns in size – considered more dangerous because they can penetrate deeper into the lungs, according to a news release issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).The agency said that people with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema or bronchitis may be more susceptible to irritation if ash is in the lower atmosphere in high concentrations. But as long as the ash remains in the upper atmosphere, there will not likely be an increased risk of health effects. “Since the ash concentration may vary from country to country depending on the wind and air temperatures, our advice is to listen to local public health officials for the best guidance for individual situations,” said Maria Neira, Director of WHO”s Public Health and Environment Department.“If people are outside and notice irritation in their throat and lungs, a runny nose or itchy eyes, they should return indoors and limit their outdoor activities,” Dr. Neira added. WHO noted that at present the cloud is suspended high in the atmosphere and the particles have not begun to settle. When the particles do settle, they could cause an increase in health concerns.“At that point, WHO might recommend that people stay indoors as much as possible, and if they did go outdoors, people with respiratory problems should wear a protective mask,” WHO”s Daniel Epstein told a news conference in Geneva. Scylla Sillaayo of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) told the same briefing that the ashes were a pollutant just like any other aerosol – the heavier ashes stayed closer to the source, while the lighter ones travelled for long distances before finally settling on the ground. He added that there were volcanic ash advisory centres, and the centre in the United Kingdom was dealing with this particular problem. While the health effects may not yet be fully known, the ash clouds are strongly affecting air traffic, with a number of European nations closing their airspace yesterday in the wake of the volcanic eruption.“No incidents or accidents have been reported due to volcanic ash. Disruptions in air traffic, however, are being experienced in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia,” the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said. The agency, based in the Canadian city of Montréal, noted that since volcanic ash is composed of very abrasive silica materials, it can damage the airframe and flight surfaces, clog different systems, scrape cockpit windows and cause the flame in jet engines to go out, constituting a serious safety hazard. Volcanic ash can also have a serious effect on airports and airfields located downwind of a volcanic ash plume since it contaminates runways, ground equipment and aircraft parked or taxiing in the area, it added. 16 April 2010The United Nations health agency said today that the health risks related to the ashes from the volcanic eruption in Iceland are not yet fully known, but they could be harmful when inhaled, especially for people with asthma and other respiratory problems.
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The results showed that the experimental vaccine effectively protected mice “from H5N1 disease, death, and primary viral replication” after exposure to “antigenically distinct strains of H5N1 influenza viruses,” the authors write. “This strategy has the advantage of inducing strong humoral and cellular immunity and conferring cross-protection against continuously evolving H5N1 viruses without the need of an adjuvant,” they add. The authors write that their results indicate that widespread use of adenovirus-based vaccines in poultry would probably help stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian flu. And in the case of a human flu pandemic, they add, “an adenovirus-based vaccine could be utilized to complement traditional inactivated influenza virus vaccine technology, which is still the primary choice,” despite the limitations of egg-based production. Hoelscher MA, Garg S, Bangari DS, et al. Development of adenoviral-vector-based pandemic influenza vaccine against antigenically distinct human H5N1 strains in mice. Lancet 2006 (published online Feb 2) [Abstractaccess requires free registration] Feb 2, 2006 (CIDRAP News) A pair of new studies suggest that influenza vaccines based on adenoviruses, one of the causes of the common cold, may offer major advantages in the quest for protection from flu pandemics. In both studies, scientists manipulated adenoviruses to duplicate a key protein (hemagglutinin) found in H5N1 avian flu viruses and then injected the engineered viruses into mice. The vaccines generated an immune response that protected the mice when they were exposed to high doses of H5N1 viruses, including strains that did not precisely match the strains from which the hemagglutinin was derived. In one of the studies, the vaccine also protected chickens. The reports raise hopes that pandemic flu vaccines could be produced in cell culture, saving time compared with the months-long process of growing them in chicken eggs. In addition, because the experimental vaccines seemed to offer broader protection than conventional egg-based vaccines do, it may be possible to produce and stockpile a pandemic vaccine in advance instead of waiting until a pandemic virus emerges, the reports say. However, the vaccines have not yet been tested in people. In the Pittsburgh study, researchers engineered an adenovirus to duplicate hemagglutinin from a 2004 Vietnam strain of H5N1 virus. They injected this into mice and then exposed them to an H5N1 virus 70 days later. The mice were fully protected by the vaccine, which generated both hemagglutinin-specific antibodies and a cellular immune response. In the CDC-Purdue study, researchers made a vaccine consisting of a nonreplicating adenovirus containing the hemagglutinin gene from an H5N1 virus identified in Hong Kong in 1997. One group of mice was injected with this vaccine, while other groups were injected with saline solution or one of two other control vaccines. Gao W, Soloff AC, Lu X, et al. Protection of mice from lethal H5N1 avian influenza virus thorugh adenovirus-based immunization. J Virology 2006 Feb;30(4):1959-64 [Abstract] “Our findings as well as those from other adenovirus-based vaccine studies support the development of replication-defective adenovirus-based vaccines as a rapid response in the event of the pandemic spread” of avian flu, write Gao and colleagues in the Journal of Virology. The researchers also took blood samples from the vaccinated mice and assessed the serologic response to three different H5N1 virusesthe 1997 strain used in the vaccine, plus 2003 and 2004 strains from Hong Kong and Vietnam, respectively. The experimental vaccine produced a “significantly high” antibody response to the 1997 virus but weaker responses to the other two viruses. See also: To assess cellular immune responses, the researchers measured the generation of CD8 T-cells in the vaccinated mice. Mice that received the experimental vaccine had a three-fold to eight-fold higher frequency of CD8 cells than those that received control vaccines, a significant difference. The experimental vaccine was also tested in chickens by giving them a single subcutaneous dose and exposing them to H5N1 virus 21 days later. The immunized chickens were fully protected, while a group of unvaccinated chickens all died. The other study was conducted by a team from the University of Pittsburgh, the CDC, and the US Department of Agriculture’s Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, with Wentao Gao as the first author. “This approach is a feasible vaccine strategy against existing and newly emerging viruses of highly pathogenic avian influenza to prepare against a potential pandemic,” states one of the reports, published online by The Lancet. “This approach also provides a viable option for potential vaccine stockpiling for the influenza pandemic.” The report was prepared by a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Purdue University, with Mary A. Hoelscher as the first author. Four weeks after their second injection, the mice were given high doses of one of two H5N1 virus strains, including a Hong Kong 1997 strain (but not the same one as used to make the vaccine) and a 2004 variant from Vietnam. All the mice that received the experimental vaccine survived with minimal illness as measured by weight loss. The study’s senior author, Suryaprakash Sambhara of the CDC, said the adenovirus-based vaccine can be made much more quickly than conventional flu vaccines, according to a Reuters report published today. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center news releasehttp://www.upmc.com/MediaRelations/NewsReleases/2006/Pages/GambottoAvianFluStudy2006.aspx