The following artile was published in the star online
Asian nations destroy
most vials of dangerous flu virus
TOKYO (AP) - Asian countries
on Thursday moved quickly to eradicate their stocks of a deadly flu strain that
was sent mistakenly by a U.S. company, with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore
and Hong Kong confirming that most vials had been destroyed. Health officials
said there were no reports of infections.
The U.N. World Health Organisation
recommended this week that labs in 18 countries holding samples of the H2N2 influenza
strain properly dispose of them.
Meridian Bioscience Inc. of Newtown,
Ohio, had mistakenly sent the virus strain to nearly 5,000 labs, mostly in the
United States, after being asked by the College of American Pathologists to prepare
quality-control kits for distribution.
By Thursday, 15 labs in Taiwan,
two in Singapore and one in Hong Kong had destroyed the virus, officials said.
An official at South Korea's Center for Disease Control and Prevention
confirmed that all samples had been disposed of by Wednesday morning and that
WHO had been notified, but wouldn't offer specifics about the labs.
Japan, progress was slower. Five of nine Japanese labs said they had followed
the Health Ministry's order Wednesday to dispose of the samples, and one was in
the process of doing so.
The remaining three laboratories either refused
to comment or were unable to comment immediately, and the Health Ministry gave
them until Friday to finish.
Japanese Health Ministry official Mitsuya
Maeda said the labs were told to use autoclaves, a pressurized steam sterilizer
that is commonly used to kill infectious viruses and decontaminate biohazardous
"This type of virus is vulnerable to heat and can be effectively
killed in an autoclave,'' Maeda said.
All workers at the labs in Asia
underwent medical checks and none had been infected, authorities said.
also said it had received no reports of infections in lab workers.
Jared Schwartz, an officer with the College of American Pathologists, said Meridian
thought it had sent an ordinary flu strain.
According to Meridian's process
and evaluation they thought it was "an innocuous, typical influenza A virus, the
kind of virus they've used before in our programs,'' Schwartz said.
H2N2 strain, known as the "Asian flu'' virus, killed up to 4 million people in
It has not been included in flu vaccines since 1968, and anyone
born after that date has little or no immunity to it.
WHO said Tuesday
that the risks to the public were low. - AP