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Swine Flu may hit any country, awareness programmes

Prof. Dr Nurul Kabir cautioned the Pakistani government against swine flu
Karachi, May 04: A Bangladeshi scientist, Prof. Dr Nurul Kabir, who works at the University of Karachi's (KU) Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), has cautioned the Pakistani government to take early preventive measures against the Swine Flu (H1N1) that may hit any country in the world; the virus, he said, has been found to be highly contagious and deadly.

In 1918, Swine Flu, which was then known as Spanish flu, killed up to 100 million people worldwide - the highest casualty ever for a pandemic in 6,000 years of recorded human history, Prof. Kabir said on Saturday while delivering a lecture at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), KU.

The Bangladeshi scientist has laid stress on the need for developing coordination among scientists, doctors and the government to deal with any untoward situation. "Organising mass awareness programmes about the fatality, nature, symptoms, diagnosis, preventions and treatment of the disease is the need of the hour," he said.

Prof. Kabir said that the 'H' in H1N1 stands for Hemagglutinin and 'N' for Neuraminidase, two viral proteins that are involved in the propagation of the disease. Deadly flu viruses are produced due to the recombination of different isoforms of Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase of human and avian viruses, he said. "This recombination occurs in pigs and that is why the disease appears to originate in places where humans, birds (chickens) and pigs live close together," he said, adding that the association of the virus with pigs was a reason why most Muslim countries were spared the Spanish flu in 1918.

Effective vaccines are not available for the disease due to the reason that the spontaneous mutation is quite common in these type of viruses, he observed.

The disease starts with flu-like symptoms - that is, chills, fever, headaches, malaise and muscle pain, while cough and fever are the most common symptoms; in more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, Prof. Kabir said.

Apart from the medical treatment for the prevention of the disease, Prof. Kabir highly recommended some practices that included the use of face masks (especially in hospitals and schools), and frequent hand washing with soap.

"The virus can be killed by treatment with 0.5 per cent bleach for 15 minutes while people coming from affected areas must be checked for flu-like symptoms. Influenza-detection kits should be made available at pathological labs," he suggested.

What scientists know about swine flu
Preliminary analysis of the swine flu virus suggests it is a fairly mild strain, scientists say.

It is believed that a further mutation would be needed in order for the H1N1 virus to cause the mass deaths that have been estimated by some. But at this point, it is impossible to predict with any accuracy how the virus will continue to evolve. UK experts at the National Institute for Medical Research outlined on Friday the work they are due to start on samples of the virus sent from the US. The research, being done at the World Influenza Centre in Mill Hill, will be vital for working out the structure of the virus, where it came from, how quickly it is capable of spreading and its potential to cause illness.

Analysis done so far suggests what they are dealing with is a mild virus and nowhere near as dangerous as the H5N1 avian flu strain that has caused scientists so much concern over the past decade.

Influenza A viruses are classified according to two proteins on the outer surface of the virus - hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). The swine flu strain is a H1N1 virus, the same type as seasonal flu which circulates throughout the world every year, and kills roughly 0.1% of those infected or higher in an epidemic year.

Professor Wendy Barclay, chair in influenza virology at Imperial College London says initial indications suggest there is nothing about the genetic make-up of the new virus which is a cause for particular concern.

The key to its potential lies largely in the H1 protein.

"There are two aspects - one is which receptors the virus tends to bind to and what we see is that it is binding to the upper respiratory tract rather than deep in the lungs." When a flu virus binds to the upper respiratory tract, it tends to cause mild illness but can be easily spread as people cough and sneeze, Professor Barclay explains.

If a virus binds further down in the lungs, it tends to cause much more severe illness, as in the case of the H5N1 avian flu virus which has caused concern in recent years.

"With the H1 gene we also look at the cleavage site," she adds. "The virus has to be cut into two pieces to be active and it uses an enzyme in the host to do that. Most influenza viruses are restricted to the respiratory tract because they use enzymes in the lungs. "But some, like H5 viruses can evolve to cut into two pieces outside the lungs, so they can replicate outside the respiratory tract."

These initial indications are largely guesswork from looking at the genetic sequence of the virus and comparing that to what is known from work on other influenza viruses.

It will take weeks and months of biological analysis to properly get a handle on the potential of the H1N1 virus.

The team at Mill Hill, one of four World Health Organisation's centres for influenza research will be working in close collaboration with the Health Protection Agency who are carrying out testing in the UK, and their findings will also feed into the development of a potential vaccine. Soon, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge will begin the genetic sequencing of the virus and will also be monitoring any mutations or changes in how virulent it is. However, there is one other reassuring aspect about what is known so far. That is there seems to be nothing unusual as yet in another protein in the centre of the virus, called NS1, which is linked to the strength of the immune response the virus produces.

In some more pathogenic viruses, it is this NS1 protein which initiates a "cytokine storm", a particularly severe immune reaction that can be fatal in even healthy young people.


Scientists have also played down concerns that the milder H1N1 virus, could combine with the more dangerous H5N1 avian flu virus, causing a super virus that has the ability to both spread easily between humans and cause severe illness. This is unlikely - or at least just as unlikely as it ever was and the H5N1 virus has been around for a decade without combining with normal seasonal flu.

Professor Jonathan Ball, an expert in molecular virology at the University of Nottingham said: "The chance of swine H1N1 combining with H5N1 is as likely as any other strain recombining.

"What this outbreak does highlight is how difficult it is to predict new pandemic strains. "Many people suspected that H5N1 was the most likely candidate for the next pandemic strain, but now it appears that this was a mistake - but that's not to say H5N1 or another reassortment containing parts of H5N1 may not happen in the future. "That's the trouble - you can't predict." The News

Your Comments
"Its horrible if Swine Flu spread in Pakistan because we dont have modern technology in medical sciences like other countries have, so its better to take precautions."
Name: Samuel Peterson
City, Country: Houston, USA

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Beaconites mesmerise audience
Rawalpindi: The Annual Sports Day celebrations of Beaconhouse, Primary Branch, Peshawar Road, Rawalpindi were held on April 29-30.

All the students participated in this exciting event. Mrs Shagun Irfan, School Group Head 1, was the chief guest, who in the inaugural ceremony declared the day open, which was followed by a march past by the athletes. The day witnessed breath-taking events, including repelling from a 70 feet high building, which drew accolades from the audience.

The parents enjoyed beautiful songs sung by the school choir. The gymnastic team proved their mettle in somersault and catapult events and won a great applause from the audience.

The children also participated in a variety of races. Children clad in regional dresses of the four provinces gave a captivating performance and won the hearts of all.

At the end, Headmistress Tahmina Lodhi thanked the guests and congratulated the school team for making the event a success. Daily Times

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5 schools sealed in Pindi
Rawalpindi: The administration of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board has sealed five private-run schools in the area that, according to the authorities concerned, were running without the Non Objection Certificate (NOC).

The future of over 950 registered private schools in the Rawalpindi Cantonment area is at stake, as the administration has launched a campaign to make the area free of private schools by not renewing their NOCs.

According to the officials of Cantonment board, business activities could not be carried out in residential areas and majority of the schools were running without the NOC.

Nuisance created by the schools in the residential areas and security concerns are the reasons the administration cites to support the move. The administration has asked other private schools as well to shift outside the cantonment premises.

Station Commander Rawalpindi Cantonment area Brigadier Sajjad Azam in a statement said the Cantonment administration has planned to shift all private schools outside the premises of the cantonment.

On the other hand, Head Private Schools Educational Society Chaklala Asif Mehmood, when contacted, said that all the schools are running with the approval of the Cantt administration and he would look towards the door of court against the illegal steps of the administration.

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NUML student distinction
Islamabad: Gul Bibi, daughter of Mastan Khan, (Roll no.9653), a student of National University of Modern Languages (NUML), stood first in MA (Urdu) final examinations by securing 68.60% marks, says a press release.

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Honour for Army Public School student
Rawalpindi: Zoha Junaid, a grade 2 student of the Army Public School & College for Girls, Westridge-III, secured first position in a poster competition titled 'How to Stop Disaster' held at the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, says a press release. Six posters evaluated at national level were sent for final evaluation to India. Zoha Junaid secured top position in the junior category. She was given a prize and a certificate of appreciation at a special ceremony held in Katmandu, Nepal. Shagufta Saqib Ansari, principal of the academic institution, has appreciated the efforts of the student and termed it a great honour for the college. The News

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Abid summons Haji Pervaiz, BISE members
Islamabad: Haji Pervaiz Khan cheating scam took a new turn on Saturday when both Inspection Team Chief Dr Naeem Bajwa and alleged PML-N MNA levelled serious charges against each other while the Chairman NA Standing Committee, Abid Sher Ali, summoned 'N' lawmaker and Board authorities asking them to appear before the committee on May 6.

Head of the Vigilance Team Dr Naeem Bajwa alleged that he was receiving threats from MSF so he and his family would be provided adequate security.

Speaking at a press conference, he said that the inquiry committee formed by the PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif to probe into the matter was trying to trap him aimed to save his party member's skin. He demanded of the President, Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to provide him life security because he was receiving threats to his life. He also asked for a judicial inquiry should be conducted by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to avert political pressure in the process. He said that he had caught Bilal Javed red handed who was sitting in the Pakistan Studies paper of the HSSC examination at the Gordon College centre in place of MNA from Rawalpindi. "But the four-member inquiry committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Pervez Rasheed, during its hearing has adopted aggressive behaviour and pressurised me to withdraw the case," he alleged.

"I have got all the proofs, including Roll No Slip and answer sheet of the candidate and if a judicial committee is constituted for the investigation I can prove that the MNA and his nephew, Bilal Javed, was guilty," he said, adding that the Superintendent of examination, Asmat Ali, also could be involved in the matter.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Standing Committee on Education has also summoned Haji Pervez, Chairman Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Rawalpindi, Head of the Raiding Team Dr Naeem Bajwa, Bilal Javed, and nephew of Haji Pervez who impersonated for the MNA.

The committee scheduled for May 6 has already summoned Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Abdul Hammed Dogar in Farah Dogar Case. Abid Sher Ali of the PML-N, the head of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Education has summoned them under Section 227(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly to probe into Haji Pervez Khan's Case.

Former Chairman Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE) Air Commodore (Retd) Shamshad, former CJP Abdul Hameed Dogar, Journalist Ansar Abbasi, Ex-chairman Al-Mizan Foundation Talat Farooq have been asked to attend the meeting. The Education Ministry has also been directed to submit inquiry report to the committee on Farah Dogar case conducted by the Ministry.

Giving rejoinder to Bajwa's allegations, Member National Assembly Haji Pervaiz Khan in the evening denied all the allegations levelled against him regarding his fraud in the intermediate examination. He said that his political rivals and officials of Rawalpindi Board were trying to tarnish his political career through staging such dramas.

In the press conference, Haji Pervaiz was accompanied by MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary, MNA Anjum Aqeel Khan and other local leaders of PML-N. He said that his political career span over three decades and he was serving the nation while working on different public offices.

"I even cannot think to commit such act and it was amazing for me when I heard about this scandal," he added.

He said that on the said day, he was out of the city. "I solemnly said that I never asked my nephew to impersonate me in the examination," he stated. He said that he had recorded his statement before the fact-finding committee consisted of PML-N Quaid. "I will accept any decision taken by the said committee," he added. He said that Naeem Bajwa was not the Chairman of Chief Minister's Inspection Team. "In fact he was neither the chairman of CM's Inspection team nor was authorised to raid the examination centre," he added. The Nation

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