Human H5N1 cases reported in Laos, Egypt, China

Feb 28, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday confirmed Laos' first human case of H5N1 avian influenza, involving a 15-year-old girl from Vientiane, and Egypt and China also have reported new cases.

The Laotian girl fell ill Feb 10 and was hospitalized in Vientiane with fever and respiratory symptoms on Feb 15, the WHO said. She was transferred 2 days later to a public hospital in Nongkhai, Thailand, where she was in stable condition.

Last week officials from Thailand, Laos, and the WHO investigated the girl's village and districts where poultry had died, the WHO report said. The patient's close contacts were being monitored daily, and adults have been given oseltamivir; all remained healthy, the agency said.

Samples obtained by Lao epidemiologists and Thai clinicians were submitted to the National Institute of Health in Thailand, where they tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza, the WHO said. The country has reported sporadic bird outbreaks since 2004; the most recent one involved ducks at two locations in Vientiane prefecture.

Elsewhere, Egypt's health ministry announced yesterday that a 4-year-old girl from the Nile delta province of Daqahliya, about 75 miles northeast of Cairo, had tested positive for H5N1 avian flu, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.

Health ministry spokesman Abdul Rahman Shahin said the girl was in stable condition in a Cairo hospital, where she was admitted yesterday with fever and tested positive for the H5N1 virus, the AP reported. If her case is confirmed by the WHO, she will be listed as Egypt's 23rd case-patient and the country's fifth patient this year.

Two days ago, Egyptian officials denied a report from the Middle East News Agency (MENA), the country's state news agency, that a 31-year-old woman from the Nile Delta town of Beheira had tested positive for avian flu. The denial was reported Feb 26 by Reuters.

Amr Qandil, director of communicable diseases at Egypt's health ministry, told Reuters the report wasn't true. "I do not know where they got this information," he said.

The MENA report said the woman, who raised chickens at home, was hospitalized in Damanhour, but was transferred to a hospital in Alexandria when her condition deteriorated, according to Reuters.

In China today, officials confirmed that a 44-year-old woman, a farmer from Fujian province, tested positive for avian flu, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. According to a report released by China's Department of Health to Hong Kong's Government Information Service, the woman developed fever and a cough 10 days ago, AFP reported. Tests conducted by the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention were positive for the H5N1 virus.

The woman's case is China's first in 7 weeks and will raise the country's official count to 23 if confirmed by the WHO.

In other avian flu news, Myanmar reported that the H5N1 virus killed poultry at a farm about 5 miles from Rangoon, the country's largest city, according to a report submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) today.

The outbreak began 2 days ago, killing 68 of 1,360 layer chickens, ducks, and pullets, and officials attributed the outbreak to poor biosecurity on the farm, the report said. The remaining birds were destroyed, and authorities instituted several control measures including limiting poultry movement within the country, screening poultry, and disinfecting the affected area.

Myanmar's last poultry outbreak was reported in April 2006.

See also:

Feb 27 WHO statement

OIE reports on Myanmar outbreak

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