Avian flu hits Turkey hard, with poultry and human cases increasing

Jan 9, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Turkey has supplanted Southeast Asia as the hotbed of avian flu news over the past few days, with 14 human cases, three of them fatal, confirmed as of today by the Ministry of Health there and cases in birds reported in 10 of the country's 81 provinces.

The third death occurred Friday in a younger sibling of the first two teenage victims, whose deaths were reported last week. Another, still younger, child in the Kocyigit family is reportedly ill but recovering, according to news reports over the weekend. The family lives in a one-room house in the village of Dogubayazit and raises poultry. The children reportedly played with body parts of dead chickens.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced confirmation of H5N1 avian flu in the first two deaths by an WHO-affiliated laboratory in the United on Saturday. The Ministry of Health in Turkey has confirmed the third as also being H5N1, but WHO is awaiting further confirmation on those, as it is on 14 hospitalized patients confirmed by the ministry as having the H5 strain. In an update today, WHO says it "considers it likely that test results on the newly announced cases will be confirmed by the UK laboratory."

A team of experts convened by WHO arrived in Turkey yesterday to investigate the epidemiologic situation as well as evaluate risk factors and control measures and determine whether further help and supplies are necessary. Today's WHO update says the team will also evaluate nearly 40 patients hospitalized with possible H5N1.

Initial investigation has shown no evidence that transmissibility of the virus has increased or that the current cases are spreading from human to human, the WHO report says.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry in Turkey has said that avian flu has been identified in birds in 10 provinces and that dead chickens have been found in Istanbul, which is in the far western part of the country, according to an AsiaNews article today. Whether the causal strain is H5N1 is not yet known, the story says. Culling of birds in the outbreak areas is under way.

In other news, testing is being done in Indonesia on a 29-year-old woman hospitalized yesterday in Jakarta, according to Agence France-Presse. The story says the woman, who presented with flu-like symptoms, had contact with a neighbor's chickens. It also says that local tests on an Indonesian man who died last week indicated he had avian influenza. Samples were reportedly sent to a WHO-affiliated laboratory in Hong Kong today for further testing.

See also:

Jan 7 WHO update on Turkey situation
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_01_07/en/index.html

Jan 9 WHO update on Turkey situation
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_01_09/en/index.html

Map of Turkey
http://www.infoplease.com/atlas/country/turkey.html

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