Jun 4, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnam's health ministry announced over the weekend that a poultry slaughterhouse worker was being treated for H5N1 avian influenza, and the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed today that China's most recent H5N1 patient has died.
Vietnam's health ministry said the man, from the northern province of Thai Nguyen, worked in a Hanoi slaughterhouse on May 14, got sick 5 days later, and was admitted to Hanoi's Tropical Disease Hospital, according to a Jun 2 report from Xinhua, China's state news agency.
After a nearly 18-month lull in Vietnamese H5N1 cases, the man's case is the country's second in a little more than a week. In the previous case, a 30-year-old farmer fell ill after he helped slaughter chickens for a wedding. He was recovering at Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital, according to the Xinhua report.
The WHO has not yet confirmed either case. If the agency confirms both infections, they will be listed as Vietnam's 94th and 95th H5N1 cases. For now, Vietnam's H5N1 case count stands at 93 cases and 42 deaths.
In other avian flu developments, China's health ministry announced that a 19-year-old soldier who was recently listed as the country's 25th H5N1 case-patient died yesterday, according to a WHO statement today. The man had been receiving treatment at a military hospital, according to Reuters. He becomes China's 16th avian flu fatality.
The man had been serving in southeastern China's Fujian province when he became ill, though he had had no reported contact with infected birds, according to the WHO. A WHO official recently pointed out that only one of China's 25 H5N1 patients had reported contact with sick birds, according to an Associated Press report.
The lack of apparent links to infected birds raises questions about how effectively the Chinese government is monitoring the disease in birds, WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl told Reuters. "This would suggest that the monitoring of H5N1 in poultry in China needs to be strengthened," he said.
Jun 4 WHO statement