Indonesia confirms human case of H5N1; 6 more people ill in Vietnam

Jun 15, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has infected a person in Indonesia, authorities confirmed today, marking the spread of the disease among people to a fourth nation.

A poultry worker who was among 81 people tested for avian flu in Indonesia last March has tested positive in two rounds of testing conducted in Hong Kong, the Washington Post reported today. It is the first known case of avian flu among Indonesians. Other countries with human cases of avian flu since 2003 are Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Indonesia has suffered H5N1 outbreaks in poultry intermittently since 2003, but authorities previously said the strain differed from that in other countries in that it wasn’t infecting people, the newspaper said. Scientific details about the strain were not available today.

The poultry worker had a relatively low concentration of antibodies to H5N1 and has shown no symptoms of illness, authorities told the newspaper.

The same cannot be said for another half-dozen people in Vietnam who have been hospitalized with avian flu in the past week, according to Vietnamese newspapers and the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters news services. All six patients remain at the National Institute for Clinical Research of Tropical Medicine in Hanoi, according to the Tuoi Tre newspaper in Vietnam.

All six people are from northern Vietnam, which has continued to generate human cases since mid-December 2004. Five of them are in stable condition, the AP reported. Most of the avian flu patients have been found to have had contact with infected birds, although the specter of human-to-human transmission still hovers. A physician who had been in contact with the current group of patients has developed a fever and is suspected of being infected.

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday announced an updated case count for Vietnam, adding three more human cases that occurred in May. These six cases appear to be new, as they were all diagnosed in the past week, the AP said.

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