Another person has H5N1; surveillance issues highlighted

Mar 1, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – An additional human case of H5N1 avian influenza has come to light in Vietnam even as reports indicate fewer outbreaks are occurring among poultry.

Vietnamese officials announced that a 35-year-old woman from Hanoi had contracted avian flu, although the route of transmission was not clear, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. The woman did not eat poultry but did work in markets where poultry is sold, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. She was the first person in Hanoi to contract that strain of the flu since September, the AP said.

This case joins the four from Thai Binh province diagnosed with avian flu in just the past several days. Those cases include a 36-year-old man whose case was confirmed yesterday, a 69-year-old man who died Feb 23, a 14-year-old girl who remains hospitalized in Hanoi, and her 21-year-old brother.

News reports today conflicted as to whether the 21-year-old, Nguen Si Tuan, was still alive in Hanoi or whether he had died. A health ministry spokesman told reporters on Tuesday that Nguyen had died on Sunday, according to the China Daily News online. Hospital authorities quickly retorted that he was still alive but that his condition was very serious, AFP reported.

Provincial officials said that the two siblings had eaten chicken at a friend's house during Lunar New Year festivities earlier this month but that the family did not have poultry, the AP reported yesterday.

The Lunar New Year took place Feb 9, although celebrations extend before and after that date. It is not clear when the 21-year-old and the 14-year-old fell ill.

This brings to 21 the number of avian flu cases among Vietnamese since mid-December 2004, with 13 fatalities.

Officials in Thai Binh are worried about controlling the disease, the AP reported yesterday.

"We are very worried about the bird flu. Thai Binh is an agriculture province with many farm families involved in backyard poultry farming. It's therefore very difficult to deal with. The war on bird flu is very complicated,'' Pham Van Diu, director of the Preventive Medicine Center of northern Thai Binh province told the AP.

The new cases follow close on the heels of an international conference on avian flu that took place last week. One of the co-sponsors, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has announced the launch of the new worldwide Avian Influenza Network. It will start in conjunction with an OIE/Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference in Paris April 7-8, according to an OIE news release updated today.

The network will collaborate with the World Health Organization (WHO) human Influenza Network on zoonotic issues; develop research on avian flu; and offer veterinary expertise and skills to member countries. The project emphasizes timely sharing of information and virus strains.

See also:

OIE statement http://web.oie.int/eng/press/en_050225.htm

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