Jan 13, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnamese health officials today confirmed the fourth human case of avian influenza in Vietnam since December, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today.
The patient is an 18-year-old woman from the southern province of Tien Giang who is hospitalized in critical condition, the WHO said. She became ill Jan 1 and was hospitalized Jan 5, the agency said.
Three other Vietnamese children—two boys, aged 6 and 9, and a 16-year-old girl—have died of H5N1 avian flu since Dec 30.
Another 18-year-old Vietnamese woman, from the province of Hau Giang, died Jan 10 of what was suspected to be avian flu, according to reports earlier this week.
The latest case brings the total of confirmed cases in Vietnam to 31, including 23 fatal cases, by the WHO's count. Thailand has had 17 cases, including 12 deaths.
The WHO also said today that the recent tsunami in Southeast Asia is not likely to increase the risk of a flu pandemic, despite the presence of H5N1 avian flu in the region. The WHO and many disease experts fear that the avian flu may spark a pandemic if it evolves to a form that could spread easily from person to person.
"Areas with the highest prevalence of avian influenza were not directly affected by the tsunami, thus there is no inherent increased risk of the emergence of the pandemic strain due to the tsunami itself," the WHO said. "However, any activity that spreads avian influenza increases the possibility of the emergence of a pandemic virus. The risk of importing avian influenza into areas affected by the tsunami can be minimized by controlling the movement of poultry from areas where outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred. It is also important to ensure that infected poultry are kept out of the food chain, including emergency food relief activities."
Jan 13 WHO announcement