WHO confirms recent H5N1 cases in Vietnam, Egypt

Mar 4, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed eight H5N1 avian influenza cases, three from Vietnam and five from Egypt, that track closely with what media and flu blog reports have already revealed but provide fresh details.

Vietnam's three cases include one fatality, a 38-year-old woman from Tien Giang province in the Mekong Delta of southern Vietnam who got sick on Feb 13 and was hospitalized on Feb 21, where she died 2 days later. An investigation into the source of her illness revealed that she had slaughtered and processes sick waterfowl, the WHO report said.

The other two patients include a 3-year-old girl from Khanh Hoa province in south central Vietnam and a 17-year-old girl from Tuyen Quang province in the northeastern part of the country. The three new infections and one fatality raise Vietnam's H5N1 total to 115 cases, 58 of them fatal.

The 3-year-old came down with symptoms on Jan 27 and was hospitalized the next day, where she is recovering well, according to the WHO. Authorities are investigating the source of her infection. Though no mass poultry illnesses or deaths were reported in the girl's household, Ninh Hoa district, plus a neighboring, district is under close surveillance because of recent H5N1 poultry outbreaks.

The teen got sick on Feb 19 and was hospitalized on Feb 24, where she is being treated for mild breathing difficulties. Before she got sick, chickens in her home had died from unexplained causes, and she had helped dispose of them.

The most recent illness among Egypt's five cases is a 53-year-old man from Qalyubia governorate, in the north, who got sick on Feb 27. He was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) the same day but is in critical condition, the WHO reported. One of the other patients, a 1-year-old boy, is also from Qalyubia governorate, but is from a different district. He got sick on Feb 22 and was hospitalized the next day, where he received oseltamivir and is in stable condition. The five new cases raise Egypt's H5N1 case count to 104, which includes 30 deaths.

The other three cases were recently reported by Egypt's Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR). They include:

  • A 10-year-old boy from Dakahlia governorate, northeast of Cairo, who became ill on Feb 10 and was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir on Feb 14. The WHO report said he is in "moderate" condition.
  • A 30-year-old woman from Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, in northern Egypt on the western branch of the Nile, who came down with symptoms on Feb 10 and was hospitalized the next day. She received oseltamivir and is listed in stable condition.
  • A 13-year-old boy from a different district of Kafr el-Sheikh governorate who got sick on Feb 10 and was hospitalized 4 days later, where he received oseltamivir and is in stable condition.

The WHO reported that all five of Egypt's latest H5N1 patients had been exposed to sick and dead poultry.

The recent spate of human cases in both Vietnam and Egypt mirrors reports of several recent H5N1 poultry outbreaks in both countries. Yesterday animal health officials in Vietnam, in a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reported seven new outbreaks in four different provinces. Veterinary experts have attributed Vietnam's recent spike in H5N1 outbreaks to illegal transport and processing of birds, especially in the weeks surrounding the Tet holiday, when demand for poultry is typically high.

Meanwhile, livestock officials in Egypt, in a Mar 2 update posted on the SAIDR Web site, reported finding the H5N1 virus in poultry from 69 different locations covering 19 governorates since Feb 10. Most occurred in household birds, and many of the detections were linked to surveillance activities.

So far this year Egypt has reported 14 human H5N1 infections, three of them fatal. Vietnam this year has reported three H5N1 cases, one of them fatal.

Today's WHO confirmations of the Vietnamese and Egyptian H5N1 cases and death raise the world's total to 486 cases, 287 of them fatal.

See also:

Mar 4 WHO statement on Vietnam's H5N1 cases

Mar 4 WHO statement on Egypt's H5N1 cases

Mar 3 OIE update

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