Dec 30, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – A 16-year-old girl in southern Vietnam is seriously ill with H5N1 avian influenza, according to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and news services today.
The WHO said it had received informal reports of a laboratory-confirmed case of H5N1 avian flu in the girl, who is from Tay Ninh province. Hers is the 28th human case in Vietnam this year, the agency said. Twenty of those cases have been fatal. Another 17 cases, 12 of them fatal, have occurred in Thailand.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the girl was in critical condition with respiratory failure at the Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City. An unnamed doctor was quoted as saying the girl might have contracted the virus when she killed a chicken and prepared it for cooking. He said there was no evidence of infection in other members of the girl's family.
Tran Tinh Hien, deputy director of the hospital, said the girl was on a respirator but in stable condition, according to a Reuters report. The WHO said the patient was hospitalized Dec 26.
Vietnam has reported poultry outbreaks of avian flu in six southern provinces in the past month, but Tay Ninh was not listed as one of them.
"As avian influenza viruses become more active at cooler temperatures, further poultry outbreaks, possibly accompanied by sporadic human cases, can be anticipated," the WHO said. "Poultry marketing, transportation, and consumption increase in Viet Nam with the approach of the lunar New Year in early February. These activities create conditions favouring the spread of poultry outbreaks and call for heightened control measures."
The WHO said today's report marks the first human case of avian flu in Vietnam since early September.
All but one of the human cases this year are believed to have resulted from exposure to sick poultry rather than from person-to-person transmission. The WHO and many disease experts fear that the H5N1 virus could trigger a human flu pandemic if it evolved into a form that could readily spread from person to person.
Dec 30 WHO statement