Thailand confirms 20th human case of avian flu

Oct 31, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Thailand has confirmed its 20th human case of avian influenza, this time in a 50-year-old woman near Bangkok, according to the BBC today.

Thawat Suntrajarn, director general of the Thai Department of Disease Control told Agence France-Presse (AFP) today that the woman is "fine" and under treatment at a Bangkok Hospital.

The victim, from Bang Bua Thong district of Nonthaburi province, north of Bangkok, reportedly fell sick after cleaning the area where her chickens live, AFP reported.

After about a year's lull in human cases, Thailand has reported three this month: In addition to the woman near Bangkok, a 48-year-old farmer died and his 7-year-old son is recovering.

In neighboring Vietnam, two people whose signs and symptoms were consistent with avian flu infection died last week, according to a story by Reuters news service on Oct 29. However, the victims were buried without being tested, AFP reported today.

The two suspected cases were a 14-year-old girl and a 26-year-old man from Quang Binh province in central Vietnam. She was admitted on Oct 21 and died 2 days later; he died on Oct 26, within an hour of arriving at the hospital, Reuters said. Both victims suffered from severe respiratory problems, fever and lung infection.

A third person with similar symptoms—a 27-year-old man—was sent to a hospital in central Vietnam's Hue City for treatment, Nguyen Ngoc Tai, a hospital director from the Vietnam-Cuba Hospital in Dong Hoi, told Reuters.

The two victims were not related and came from different towns in the same province, which Reuters said was about 310 miles south of Hanoi. (Details weren't included for the third suspected case.) Health officials from the two districts where the victims lived said that chickens and ducks are still for sale in local markets and people are taking few precautions. Poultry flocks in those districts haven't been vaccinated yet, despite a widespread vaccination campaign, Reuters noted. Vaccine supplies from China have been delayed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said today it would strongly encourage Vietnam to follow guidelines on suspected avian flu cases, according to a story by AFP.

A number of countries have been testing birds for H5N1 and finding other viruses:

  • About 82,000 chickens are being culled in Japan's Ibaraki prefecture over concerns about an avian flu virus found there, the Associated Press (AP) reported. About 1.5 million birds have already been culled in that area, which has seen  recurring outbreaks of H5N2 avian flu in recent months. Officials told the AP the strain involved is not H5N1, but a less virulent form.
  • A turkey from the Greek island of Chios did not carry H5N1, final tests determined, according to an Oct 29 Reuters story. The tests weren't described.
  • A dead mallard from Sweden carried the H5N3 strain of avian flu, according to a posting on PromedMail. The N3 strain of was identified through a neuraminidase inhibition test.
  • Likewise in Iraq, two chickens from the Kurdish region were found to carry a flu strain other than H5N1, although a Reuters story did not explain what tests were conducted.
  • Canadian authorities today announced they had found H5 avian flu in 33 ducks tested last summer during the country's first national survey of influenza in migratory birds, according to a Bloomberg News story. Further testing was being conducted to determine the strain, but authorities noted that the ducks were healthy. Canada hasn't had any H5N1 cases, said Agriculture Minister Andy Mitchell today in Ottawa.
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