New avian flu outbreak reported in Japan

Feb 17, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – A second outbreak of avian influenza was reported in Japan today, while a United Nations (UN) animal health official suggested it may not be possible to eradicate the disease in Asia.

Seven pet chickens that died at a home in southern Japan between Feb 14 and 16 were found to be infected with an H5 avian flu virus, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. An H5N1 virus is blamed for the avian flu that has swept through much of Southeast Asia and infected at least 29 humans in the past 2 months.

Japan's only recent confirmed H5N1 outbreak occurred at one farm in mid-January. Japanese officials had said earlier they hoped to declare their country free of the disease if no more outbreaks surfaced this week.

The director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO's) animal health department said he is not certain that the H5N1 avian flu can be eradicated, according to a Reuters report today. "It may well be that the sector has to learn to live with this virus as it tries to live with other diseases," Samuel Jutzi was quoted as saying.

Tests have confirmed the 21st human case of avian flu in Vietnam, in a 15-year-old boy from Than Hoa province, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. The boy was admitted to a hospital Feb 9 and remained there today.

The human toll today stood at 29 cases, including 20 deaths, the WHO said. Vietnam has had 14 deaths, while Thailand has had eight cases with six deaths.

In other developments, an AP report said about 800 storks at two bird sanctuaries near Bangkok died of avian flu. Tests showed that 30% to 40% of the birds were infected with an avian flu virus, the story said. The AP report didn't identify the virus subtype, but an Agence France-Presse report said it was H5N1.

See also:

Feb 17 WHO statement on 21st case in Vietnam
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2004_02_17/en/

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