Feb 10, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – China and Indonesia reported fatal human cases of H5N1 avian influenza today, while Azerbaijan joined the list of countries with outbreaks in wild birds.
In addition, there were reports that the virus was spreading to more farms in Nigeria, which was revealed this week as the first African country hit by the pathogen.
In Indonesia, a 23-year-old woman from Bekasi, east of Jakarta, died of what local tests showed was avian flu, according to an Associated Press (AP) report published today. Ilham Patu, an official at Sulianti Saroso Hostial in Jakarta, said she had been sick for 5 days.
The case was the second one reported in Indonesia in the past 2 days. Yesterday Patu said a 27-year-old woman from Cikarang, another town east of Jakarta, had tested positive for avian flu, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP). She too was being treated at Sulianti Saroso Hospital.
Samples from both women were being sent to a World Health Organization (WHO) reference laboratory in Hong Kong for confirmatory testing, according to the reports.
In China, a 20-year-old female farmer from the southern province of Hunan died of avian flu, according to an AP report based on information from the Chinese Health Ministry.
The ministry said the woman, surnamed Long, had become ill Jan 27 and died Feb 4. The report said she had handled poultry and that lab tests had confirmed she had the H5N1 virus.
The WHO currently lists a total of 166 human cases, including 88 deaths. It does not yet include the Indonesian and Chinese cases mentioned here.
In Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic on the west side of the Caspian Sea, north of Iran, officials said tests in Britain had confirmed H5N1 in wild birds. The birds were found dead on the Absheron peninsula, which juts into the Caspian and includes the capital, Baku, according to an AP report.
No human cases or outbreaks in domestic poultry had been reported, according to an AFP story. A veterinary official said the Abserhon region would be quarantined.
Azerbaijan is at high risk for avian flu because it is a stopover and wintering site for thousands of migratory birds, the AFP story said.
In Nigeria, an official from the northern state of Kano, speaking anonymously, said 16 farms in his area were thought to be affected by avian flu and that 100,000 chickens had died, according to another AFP report today.
Also, Auwalu Haruna, head of the Kano Poultry Farmers Association, told AFP he knew of 30 affected farms.
But Agriculture Minister Adamu Bello said the number of farms confirmed as affected remained at four, according to the story.
Meanwhile, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said tests had confirmed that the H5N1 strain in Nigeria matches a strain found in humans in Turkey and China, AFP reported.
"It has come from these countries and it is very, very unlikely that it has come through trade, and very likely that it has been through migratory birds," Alex Thermann, special advisor to the head of the OIE, was quoted as saying.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the OIE called on Nigeria today to immediately close all poultry markets in Kaduna and Kano states and neighboring regions to contain the disease.
In Bulgaria, officials said an H5 virus found in a dead swan is not the same type that has killed people, according to still another AFP report. The Bulgarian veterinary service said a British lab had determined that the virus was "a lethal virus for birds but not for people."
However, the report didn't specify the neuraminidase (N) number of the virus. The dead bird was found in the Danube River Jan 30.
FAO/OIE statement on the situation in Nigeria