Nov 8, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The United States proposed today that a small group of experts be appointed immediately to plan a fast response in case an influenza pandemic erupts, as an international conference on avian and pandemic flu continued in Geneva.Stewart Simonson, assistant secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), proposed that the World Health Organization (WHO) set up the expert panel, according to the Associated Press (AP). He also suggested that the panel be assigned to make a plan for closing gaps in flu surveillance and to complete both plans in time for the WHO’s executive board meeting in January.”We must go beyond generalized planning and well-intentioned expressions of cooperation,” the AP quoted Simonson as saying. “Now is the time to speak and act with specificity.”Hundreds of experts in human and animal health and other fields gathered at the WHO in Geneva yesterday for the 3-day conference. The stated goal of the meeting is to forge an international consensus on how to combat H5N1 avian flu and prepare for a potential human flu pandemic.Experts at the meeting disagreed today on whether the H5N1 virus can be eradicated in poultry, according to another AP report. Controlling the virus in poultry is considered the best way to keep it from evolving into a pandemic strain.Samuel Jutzi of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told the AP that the world could stamp out the virus in poultry in “a matter of a year,” provided enough money is invested. However, current spending is not enough to do the job, he said.Jutzi, who was interviewed on the sidelines of the conference, observed that the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong all have eliminated highly pathogenic avian flu from their poultry stocks in recent years, the AP reported. He said the FAO would reveal tomorrow its estimate of the cost of eradicating the virus in poultry.Alejandro Thiermann of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) told the AP he does not think the virus can be eradicated in poultry. “The virus is here to stay until, through genetic mutations, it really causes havoc or it’s defeated by nature and disappears,” he said.On the other hand, Thiermann said the virus can be managed by rapidly detecting and stopping new outbreaks, according to the story. “We certainly have the tools to bring it to a point where we can manage it and almost eliminate the chance of it becoming a pandemic strain,” he said.In other news, lawmakers in Washington, DC, today voiced objections to President Bush’s $7.1 billion strategy for battling avian and pandemic flu, the AP reported. Some Republicans called the plan too costly, while Democrats said it shortchanges state and local governments. The plan was unveiled last week.Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he would not support the proposal because it would increase the budget deficit. At a hearing today, he asked if the administration would help Congress find savings in other programs to pay for pandemic preparedness, according to the story. But HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said Bush views the pandemic threat as an emergency.Democrats at the hearing questioned whether the administration plan provides enough money for state and local preparedness, the AP reported. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., called the plan “long on directions and short on resources for nonfederal partners in pandemic preparedness.”Meanwhile, the drug company Roche announced today it had stopped selling oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in China and was turning over supplies to the government, according to another AP story.Supplies of the antiviral drug are “being transferred to China’s Ministry of Health for centralized allocation and distribution,” Roche’s Chinese division said in a statement quoted by the AP. The statement said that in case of a pandemic, “the government is in the best position to handle rapid response and distribution.”Oseltamivir is one of very few drugs believed to be effective against the H5N1 virus. Concerns about possible hoarding of the drug recently prompted Roche to restrict sales in the United States, Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.Yesterday Roche announced it would increase production of oseltamivir to 300 million treatment courses annually by 2007, according to another AP report. That would be a tenfold increase in production since 2004, the company said.Roche said it had received requests from more than 150 governments and companies to produce generic versions of oseltamivir or to get involved in outsourced production, the story said. The company reported it had begun negotiations with eight companies and several governments, including Taiwan and Vietnam.See also:WHO page on Geneva meeting, with links to presentationshttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2005/meeting_avian_influenza/en/index.html
After a strong performance during the regular season, the USC men’s tennis team heads into tournament play ready to make its mark and win its sixth national championship in seven years. Before that, however, the squad will travel to Ojai this weekend to compete for the Pac-12 championship.The tournament begins Wednesday, but USC won’t play their first match until Friday. With only Stanford seeded ahead of them in the Pac-12, USC will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed and advance automatically into the semifinals. No. 3-seeded UCLA and No. 4-seeded California automatically advance to the quarterfinals on Thursday. The teams battling it out during the first round on Wednesday will be No. 5-seeded Oregon against No. 8-seeded Arizona and No. 6-seeded Washington against No. 7-seeded Utah.The Trojans have a favorable bracket, considering that they could face either the Utah Utes, the Washington Huskies or the UCLA Bruins in the semifinals, all teams that the Trojans beat in conference play earlier this season. The Trojans went a perfect 7-0 over the Utes on April 3 and dominated 6-1 against the Huskies on March 27. The Trojans not only beat the Bruins earlier in the year in a non-conference matchup, but USC also beat its crosstown rival in their latest contest last week by a score of 4-2.The Trojans enter the tournament with seven wins in their last eight team matches. Seniors Jonny Wang, Eric Johnson, Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Quiroz will be making their final appearances in the Pac-12 championship, which the Trojans last won in 2012 in the tournament’s inaugural year. The Pac-12 currently has three teams in the ITA Top 25 rankings, including the Trojans, so the tournament will be an opportunity for USC to pick up any final details about their opponents that they can use at the NCAA championships.Wang and junior Max de Vroome enter the Pac-12 championship semifinals as the leading individual players for the Trojans; Wang has won his last 12 individual matches, and de Vroome is riding an eight-match winning streak.The Trojans also boast six players ranked in the ITA Top 100 for singles. Hanfmann currently holds the highest ranking among USC players at No. 11, followed by Quiroz at No. 22. Wang is ranked at No. 38, and sophomore Nick Crystal is ranked No. 67. De Vroome ranks No. 86, and Johnson rounds out the ITA Top 100 at No. 100. Hanfmann and Quiroz also are ranked No. 3 by the ITA in doubles play.Of the three teams that USC could face in the semifinals, the Bruins might be the most difficult opponent, considering they have won six of their last eight matches. In addition, the Bruins also beat the Huskies and Utes earlier this season 6-1 and 7-0, respectively. The Huskies don’t have any individual players or doubles pairings in the ITA Top 100 and are only 2-5 in conference play, while the Utes have lost six of their last seven matches.On the other side of the bracket, the Cal Bears will await the winner of the matchup between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona Wildcats. The Stanford Cardinal, who have a 6-1 Pac-12 record this season, will play one of those three teams in the semifinal. The Cardinal would likely not want to face the Bears, since the Bears are the only team in the Pac-12 that beat the Cardinal this season. The Ducks are only 3-4 in conference play and haven’t beaten the Bears this season, but one of their wins was against the Wildcats earlier this month by a score of 4-1. The Wildcats are winless in the Pac-12 this year and only sport an 8-18 overall record.If the Trojans advance to the final round, the Cardinal would most likely give them the most trouble, as the Cardinal beat the Trojans 4-3 a few weeks ago in a conference matchup. With that said, the Trojans did beat the Cardinal earlier this year 6-1 in a non-conference matchup. The other three teams — the Wildcats, Ducks and Bears — all fell to the Trojans this season.
The organization parked its 72-foot trailer – which, in addition to carrying uniforms, clothing, backpacks, shoes and socks, has built-in fitting rooms – at Reseda Elementary School. There, volunteers handed out clothing, grooming kits and other items to elementary- and middle-school-age children from throughout the west San Fernando Valley. “I think it’s awesome,” said Rosemarie Kubena, the school’s principal. “It gives us an opportunity to reach out to families we ordinarily wouldn’t help. “The kids light up. They get all the attention and clothing and brand new shoes. They get a chance to get something for them. No hand-me-downs here.” Operation School Bell relies on donations from the community. Its trailer, Operation School Bell On Wheels, is scheduled to make four trips to the San Fernando Valley this year. Each year, about 6,000 children in the Los Angeles Unified School District with limited resources receive support from the the operation and its many volunteers. Needy children through the 12th grade are also welcome to visit the nonprofit organization’s facility in Hollywood by appointment. On Thursday, youngsters with the Los Angeles School Police Department Explorer program, preparing themselves for a career in law enforcement, helped the children try on shoes. “Some of these kids’ parents can’t afford new clothes or shoes,” said police Officer Don Norek, who was supervising the future law enforcement officers. “This is an opportunity for the kids to feel better about themselves, and their self-esteem goes up.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3699160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! RESEDA – April Bonilla, 7, went on a shopping spree with her little sister Thursday, grabbing everything from school uniforms to shoes. A pair of pink-and-white Skechers sneakers caught the second-grader’s eye. “They’re girly,” April said. “They’re pretty … I’m going to wear them right now.” The sisters were among hundreds of low-income students to receive free goodies donated by Operation School Bell, a Hollywood-based nonprofit charity that helps students from low-income families.