Apr 20, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Testing by the World Health Organization has failed to detect the H5N1 avian influenza virus in a Sudanese man suspected of having it, while China's latest H5N1 patient has died, according to reports published today.
Sudanese health officials reported 2 days ago that some chickens and the owner of an affected farm had avian flu. But a team of WHO experts tested a sample from the man and found no sign of the H5N1 virus, according to a Reuters report today that quoted WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng. The report did not specify what kind of test was used.
Sudan has not yet had any confirmed human H5N1 cases, though Egypt, its northern neighbor, has reported a dozen cases.
Cheng said the farmer remained hospitalized in stable condition in Khartoum, and it was not clear what illness he has, Reuters reported. Cheng also said there were no other suspected human cases in the country.
Meanwhile, the latest avian flu patient in China has died, according to another Reuters report, citing the Chinese news service Xinhua. The patient was a 21-year-old migrant worker who worked as a security guard in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei. His case was the 17th reported in China, and he was the 12th patient to die.
Xinhua said no illness had been reported among the man's contacts, and there were no reports of flu outbreaks in poultry in his home town, Reuters reported.
In the United Kingdom, authorities announced plans to lift restrictions imposed after H5N1 was detected 2 weeks ago in a swan found on the east coast of Scotland, BBC News reported today.
A ban on the movement of poultry in a 3-kilometer protection zone around where the swan was found will be lifted Apr 22, the story said. Restrictions in a 6.2-kilometer surveillance zone will end May 1, provided veterinary inspectors find no cases in poultry in the zone.
Meanwhile, one of Britain's leading microbiologists, Hugh Pennington, said the 8 days it took to confirm H5N1 in the swan found at Cellardyke in Scotland was too long, according to the BBC. He said 3 days would have been "more acceptable."
In other developments, the Red Cross and affiliated relief agencies appealed today for $13.4 million (17.4 million Swiss francs) to help strengthen countries' defenses against avian flu and the threat of pandemic flu.
In a news release, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said governmental preparedness efforts may not provide enough help to vulnerable groups and communities, especially in west and central Africa.
The federation said it is already responding to or preparing for avian flu in 26 countries, emphasizing preventing transmission of the virus from animals to humans.
A key part of the federation's effort will be to train "50,000 volunteers and staff members to respond to the specific nature of the crisis," the statement said. The federation also promised to increase education efforts in communities and to pre-position relief supplies to deal with new outbreaks.
In other news:
- Authorities in Pakistan ordered the slaughter of 15,000 chickens on a farm near Islamabad on suspicion of the country's fourth poultry outbreak of H5N1 avian flu, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. An agricultural official said there was "very strong clinical evidence" of the virus. The disease was discovered on another chicken farm near Islamabad Apr 16, the report said.
- A Singapore Airlines plane was detained on landing in Copenhagen because of concern that a passenger had H5N1 avian flu, according to another AFP report. A medical team determined that the passenger, a 31-year-old Swedish woman, had only an upset stomach, the story said.
Apr 20 Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies news release