Mar 28, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Hong Kong officials concluded that a baby girl who was recently infected with H9N2 avian influenza—a strain believed to have pandemic potential—probably contracted it from birds, according to recent reports.A 9-month-old girl who was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms twice in recent weeks tested positive for an H9N2 infection Mar 20. The girl had only a mild illness but was treated in isolation at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Hong Kong Department of Health reported in a Mar 22 statement. At the time of her second hospitalization she had respiratory syncytial virus, the statement said.Dr. Thomas Tsang, controller of the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection, said tests had ruled out the possibility of human-to-human transmission in the girl’s case, according to a Mar 24 news release from Hong Kong’s Information Services Department.Tsang said genetic analysis of the H9N2 virus showed that it was entirely of avian origin, suggesting that the child contracted it directly from a bird, the release said. Because the girl had no contact with wild birds before her illness, she may have caught the virus at a bird market that she visited several times with her family, Tsang said.He also said tests on respiratory specimens from a healthcare worker and three children who were in the same hospital cubicle with the baby in early March tested negative for H9 viruses, and her family had no symptoms.Meanwhile, leading virologist Robert Webster warned this week that H9N2 is an “insidious” virus that needs close monitoring because it could trigger an outbreak in humans, according to a Mar 27 Bloomberg News report.H9N2 is far less known than the deadly Asian strain of H5N1 virus, which has killed at least 169 people and millions of poultry in Asia and Africa in the past few years. But Webster told Bloomberg, “H9N2 is an insidious virus. This is the one that’s far more dangerous in some ways. It doesn’t get much attention because it doesn’t kill chickens and doesn’t kill humans.”He said H9N2 can spread among pigs and infects chickens without making them sick. On the “hit list” of viruses, he added, “H5N1 is at [the] top, and H9N2 is right behind. Then come H7N7 and H2N2.”At least three cases of H9N2 illness, all of them mild, have occurred in Hong Kong children in recent years. Two girls were infected in 1999 and a 5-year-old boy had the virus in 2003.Robert L. Atmar, MD, a Baylor College of Medicine professor who has participated in clinical trials of an H9N2 vaccine, said human H9N2 illnesses may be less rare than the record suggests. Seroprevalence studies in China in the 1990s found H9 antibodies in 2% to 3% of the population, which suggests that some cases are missed, he told CIDRAP News via e-mail.Atmar, a professor in the Departments of Medicine and of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, also commented that the finding of a case in a 9-month-old child was “a little surprising unless she was toddling around the market. Usually, cases of avian influenza have followed close contact with infected poultry. H9N2 viruses are common in bird markets.”See also:Mar 20 CIDRAP News story “Baby in Hong Kong infected with H9N2 avian flu”Journal of Clinical Microbiology report on Hong Kong H9N2 case in 2003
Norlys, the Danish electricity, television and telecommunications firm formed from a big merger last year, is on the hunt for a pensions and insurance firm to take over the management of all the various pension schemes and employee insurance contracts it is inheriting.The company, formed from the companies SE and Eniig, is inviting tenders for a comprehensive contract for a list of pension and insurance schemes of Norlys Holding and its underlying companies, according to a notice on the EU’s TED public contracts site.Norlys said other firms it acquires or merges with during the contract period may also be included in the schemes it listed in the tender, on the same terms.The company Eniig Fibernet, which Norlys said was expected to be set up 1 October 2020, is also part of the tender. The pension and insurance schemes listed by Nordlys are currently managed by PFA Pension, Velliv and Danske Sundhedsforsikring, according to the tender notice.Norlys said it currently has around 2,500 employees, and that the potential deposit value of the pension assets to be managed is estimated at DKK1bn (€134m) with average annual contributions of around DKK140m.The deadline for receipt of tenders is noon local time on 14 August 2020.Swiss pension fund issues notice for active equityA private pension fund in Switzerland has issued an active long equity volatility investing notice via IPE Quest Discovery.The size of the global active pooled portfolio is to be advised later in the selection process, it said.The pension fund is looking to build a long list of managers in this asset class that may then be selected to reply to a full request for proposals, it added.Interested managers should have a minimum track record of three years, the notice said.The IPE news team is unable to answer any further questions about IPE Quest, Discovery, or Innovation tender notices to protect the interests of clients conducting the search. To obtain information directly from IPE Quest, please contact Jayna Vishram on +44 (0) 20 3465 9330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Danish research foundation re-appoints NykreditDanmarks Grundforskningsfond (DG), the Danish National Research Foundation, has re-appointed Nykredit Asset Management for a DKK2bn (€267m) contract for the management of nominal Danish bonds.The foundation, which issued the initial tender notice on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), said the contract is for a five-year period.DG’s fixed income portfolio invests in government and mortgage bonds and constitutes the largest part of its assets – 37% of the strategic allocation is managed by Nykredit.According to its latest annual report, the Danish bond portfolio yielded a return of 1.8%, which was higher than the benchmark return of 1.7%. The predominance of mortgage bonds with lower coupon (0.5-2%) contributed positively to the excess return in relation to the benchmark.Although the yield spread on mortgage bonds was widened last year, this was more than compensated in the form of higher interest rates on mortgage bonds compared to government bonds and other non-callable bonds, it said.The strategic allocation to global index-linked bonds is worth 11% of its total portfolio and is managed by Danske Bank Asset Management. The portfolio’s return in 2019, the report showed, was 2.8% compared to a benchmark return at 2.6%.The return from the European credit bond portfolio in 2019 was 6.3% compared to the benchmark return of 6.4%. The strategic allocation to this part of the portfolio is 10% and the benchmark is Barclays Capital Euro Major Corporate Index. It is also run by Danske Bank AM.The US high yield bond portfolio accounts for 7% of the strategic allocation, and the portfolio is managed by Columbia Threadneedle. In 2019 it returned 12.7%, which is higher than the 10.7% its benchmark returned (ML US High Yield Bonds, Constrained hedged to DKK).The excess return is due to good securities selection, especially in the energy sector where there were many bankruptcies in 2019, the report explained.Looking for IPE’s latest magazine? Read the digital edition here.
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