Jan 6, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The death of a 6-year-old Vietnamese boy from avian influenza was reported today, marking the second fatal case reported in Vietnam this week.
The boy, from the southern province of Dong Thap, died just 3 hours after being hospitalized with a high fever and respiratory failure Dec 30, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.
The Jan 4 death of a 9-year-old boy from Tra Vinh province, also in southern Vietnam, was reported by news services yesterday. If tests confirm H5N1 avian flu in both cases, they will bring the number of such deaths in Vietnam in the past year to 22.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today it had been notified that initial tests in both cases identified the H5 subtype of flu virus and that further tests were under way.
The deputy director of the Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, Tran Tinh Hien, said tests have already shown the 6-year-old boy had the H5N1 virus, according to the AFP report.
An official at the provincial hospital where the boy was treated said it was not clear how the boy had contracted the virus, because there was no evidence that he had had contact with infected poultry, the AFP story said.
Another avian flu patient in Vietnam, a 16-year-old girl, remained hospitalized today in critical condition, according to the WHO. Her case was reported in late December.
Meanwhile, Vietnam News, a government-controlled newspaper, today published a report that the 9-year-old boy who died this week did not have avian flu. The story quoted an official at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Min City as saying the boy, named Thach Phung, had died of hepatitis.
The story said doctors at the hospital "have rejected initial fears" that the boy had avian flu, but it gave no explanation for the conflicting reports.
The WHO said, "All three of these most recent cases have occurred in the southern part of the country, where poultry outbreaks have been recurring since December of last year."
The agency said close contacts of the three case-patients are being monitored for signs of illness and health authorities in Vietnam have taken steps to improve case detection.
Jan 6 WHO statement