China's avian flu deaths reach 6; Indonesia reports case cluster

Jan 18, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Chinese authorities today announced another human death from the H5N1 avian influenza virus, raising the government's case count to nine, including six deaths, according to a Reuters report.

A 35-year-old woman with the surname of Wei died in China's southwestern Sichuan province on Jan 11, Reuters reported. That was a week after the onset of her fever and pneumonia, according to Bloomberg News. She worked as a poultry farmer, and people who had contact with her are being closely monitored, the Bloomberg story said.

Reuters said poultry had been dying in the woman's village, but China's Health Ministry, which published information about the case, did not say whether the poultry had tested positive for H5N1.

Another Turkish child infected
The World Health Organization (WHO) had not updated its case count to reflect the new Chinese case at this writing. However, WHO today confirmed the 21st human H5N1 infection in Turkey, involving a 4-year-old boy whose case was announced yesterday by Turkish officials. He became sick Jan 5 and is hospitalized in Erzurum province, the agency said.

A news report from Ankara published today by the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) news service said initial investigation suggests the boy became sick after eating chicken. He is from Dogubayazit in eastern Turkey's Agri province, site of the four deaths from H5N1 that have occurred in Turkey.

Despite the new human case, the news from Turkey may be improving. The WHO update said intensive education and culling efforts are expected to reduce "opportunities for human infections to occur." In addition, Reuters reported yesterday that five H5N1 patients had recovered and been discharged from hospitals that day. Many of the remaining 12 people in hospitals were in stable condition, but one patient's condition was described as serious.

Indonesian cluster grows
Indonesian authorities were investigating what one health official described as the "cluster with the largest number of patients" they had seen, according to a Bloomberg story published today.

The cluster involves four people in one family, including a 13-year-old girl who died on Jan 14 and her 3-year-old brother, who died yesterday. Both tested positive for H5N1, said Hariadi Wibisono, director of vectorborne disease control at the Indonesian Ministry of Health, as quoted by Bloomberg. Those tests were done locally and have not yet been confirmed by the WHO-accredited laboratory in Hong Kong.

Another sibling, a 15-year-old girl, is improving in a hospital while investigators re-test tissue samples from her throat to determine whether she has an H5N1 infection, the news service reported.

Meanwhile, the father of all three children has been hospitalized after experiencing similar flu-like symptoms, the Bloomberg story said. Wibisono said this is the fifth cluster of infections in Indonesia since July.

See also:

Jan WHO update on the situation in Turkey

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