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Czechs threatened by bird flu vaccine

Some Czechs were threatened by infection of H5N1 bird flu virus from a vaccine developed by the Austrian pharmaceutical company Baxter that was tested on ferrets.

The vaccine was tested by the company in Konarovice, Czech Republic, from early January and the research was permitted by the Industry and Trade Ministry, said Czech chief sanitary officer Michael Vit. "Suddenly the ferrets started dying and so the research stopped on February 6."

The Czech veterinary authority revealed that the ferrets got infected with the lethal bird flu virus. "All the ferrets had to be liquidated and the company had to be closed," said the authority's spokesman Josef Duben.
Reports state that all 13 people who got into contact with the ferrets immediately received the Tamiflu drug and underwent tests. "Fortunately, none of them got infected," Vit said.

Reports state that the Baxter company admitted that the mistake occurred in Austria and that it sent infected vaccines to the Czech Republic.

Source: Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD)

Natalie Berkhout

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