Nov 29, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Internet rumors of a case of H5N1 avian influenza in a little boy in Rimouski, Quebec, were just that, Canadian Press reported today.
Several Web sites on pandemic flu reported rumors that a boy was seriously ill with avian flu at a hospital in the city, but hospital officials dismissed them as entirely false, according to the CP story.
Dr. Patrick Dolce, head of microbiology at the hospital, flatly rejected the reports. "This is totally untrue," he told CP. "There is no case of respiratory illness in any children right now in the hospital. No cases at all."
The hospital received calls about the rumors from as far away as Italy, the story said. Rimouski is a city of 42,000 on the St. Lawrence River north of Quebec City.
North America has had no known human case of H5N1 illness to date.
In other developments, the World Health Organization confirmed today that a 35-year-old Indonesian woman who died of H5N1 disease yesterday was the patient who was cited in a WHO update on Nov 13. She was the 57th Indonesian to die of the illness, out of 74 total cases.
In a statement yesterday, Indonesia's National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness said the woman lived in Tangerang, Banten province, and fell ill Nov 7. She was initially hospitalized in Tangerang and was transferred to Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital in Jakarta Nov 10.
Although some news reports yesterday said the woman had had contact with sick poultry, the committee said, "A history of contact with poultry has not been established."
In addition to 74 confirmed H5N1 cases, Indonesia has had 12 probable cases, including 4 fatal ones, and 187 "suspect" cases, of which 50 were fatal, the committee said. The statement said lab tests have ruled out 539 suspected cases.
Nine Indonesian provinces have had human cases, the committee said. West Java leads the list, with 25 cases and 20 deaths, followed by Jakarta, with 18 cases and 16 deaths, and Banten, with 9 cases and 8 deaths.
Nov 29 WHO statement on Indonesian case
Nov 28 news release from Indonesian National Committee for Avian Influenza Control