China reports 11th human case of avian flu

Feb 8, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Chinese officials today reported the country's 11th human case of H5N1 avian influenza, in a 26-year-old woman from an area where no poultry outbreaks have been reported, according to news services.

The woman, surnamed Lin, is from Zhangpu County in Fujian province, according to an Agence France-Presse report today. She tested positive for the virus after being hospitalized Jan 10 with fever and pneumonia, AFP reported, citing the Chinese news service Xinhua as its source.

In addition, China announced its first new poultry outbreak in a month has occurred in the northern province of Shanxi, Bloomberg News reported today. The deaths of about 15,000 chickens on Feb 2 and 3 led to culling of 187,000, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Chinese government told the AP it has killed about 22.5 million birds in the past year in efforts to stop the H5N1 virus.

In Iraq, meanwhile, a World Health Organization (WHO) team is investigating the situation in the north, where one human case has been confirmed and more are suspected, and a possible human case has been reported in the south.

A 15-year-old girl who died Jan 17 had the country's first confirmed case. Samples from her 39-year-old uncle, who died Jan 27, tested positive in a local laboratory, and confirmatory test results are awaited.

In an update yesterday, the WHO said its team in northern Iraq was seeking ways to strengthen local capacity to test for H5N1 and to hasten sample shipment to WHO labs, because transporting patient samples to outside labs has proved difficult. In addition, biosafety standards in local and national laboratories must be improved, the agency said.

Major poultry culling efforts were under way in the outbreak region. Culling teams traveled from house to house in the Kurdish north, "chasing chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys around backyards and stuffing them into bags as villagers looked on," Reuters news service reported yesterday.

The WHO said more capacity for poultry testing is needed in order to focus the culling. Training is under way to improve veterinary labs and surveillance.

Authorities who initially thought the H5N1 outbreak might be confined to Kurdish northern Iraq are facing the possibility of a human case in Omara in southern Iraq. A 13-year-old boy fell ill on Feb 1 and died Feb 5 of severe pneumonia, the WHO said. No poultry deaths have been reported in the area, but pet birds in the victim's home died around the time the boy fell ill.

Reports about the suspected case conflicted. An AP report published yesterday described the victim as a 14-year-old named Muhannad Radhi Zaouri, but a Reuters report listed him as a 24-year-old.

Police cars and ambulances traversed Omara today, and people used loudspeakers to notify residents to kill their birds, Reuters reported. In addition, mosques were issuing warnings to residents to cull their poultry.

In Hong Kong today, authorities banned the raising of chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, and quail in backyards, in an effort to prevent the spread of H5N1, Bloomberg News reported. Residents will be fined up to US $12,900 for violating the rule, which takes effect Feb 13. The decision came in the wake of news that a fifth bird had tested positive for the H5N1 virus in Hong Kong.

See also:

WHO statement on Iraq investigation
http://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_02_07/en/index.html

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