Mar 18, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – An 11-year-old boy in northern Vietnam died recently of H5N1 avian influenza amid an ongoing spate of bird outbreaks in the country, according to news services and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The boy, from Thanh Liem district in Ha Nam province, became ill Mar 4 and died Mar 14, the WHO said in a statement today. Counting his illness, Vietnam has had 106 human H5N1 cases with 52 deaths. The WHO's global count has reached 373 cases and 236 deaths.
An Associated Press (AP) report yesterday said the boy's family raises chickens, some of which got sick in late February. After some of the birds died, the family killed and ate one of the remaining ones, the director of the provincial health department told the AP.
Vietnam has had five human H5N1 cases so far this year, all of them fatal. The last case was in a 23-year-old woman from Phu Tho province who fell ill in mid-February and died Feb 25, according to the WHO. A Xinhua report yesterday said a woman from the same district as the 11-year-old boy died of H5N1 disease in June 2007.
Yesterday, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung criticized farmers for failing to report poultry outbreaks and for eating sick and dead birds, the AP reported. He said the eating of infected birds had caused the four previous deaths this year. Thirteen provinces have had bird outbreaks since the start of the year, the story said.
In other developments, the Hong Kong Department of Health recently confirmed that the viruses that killed two children in Hong Kong's current seasonal flu epidemic were not novel strains.
Gene sequencing showed that a 7-year-old boy who died had the Brisbane strain of influenza A/H1N1, and a 3-year-old girl had the Brisbane strain of A/H3N2, the health department said in a Mar 14 statement. Both strains have been circulating in various parts of the world in recent months.
Last week Hong Kong officials closed all primary schools and kindergarten/child-care centers because of the growing seasonal flu epidemic. The 2-week closure began Mar 13.
Mar 18 WHO statement
Mar 14 Hong Kong Department of Health statement