Avian flu situation worries Chinese leaders

Nov 9, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Chinese authorities said that the country's avian influenza outbreaks aren't fully controlled and that use of substandard poultry vaccines could lead to disaster, while Indonesia has added another likely human case to its avian flu tally, according to news reports today.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the country is facing "a very serious situation" because avian flu has not been totally controlled, according to a Xinhua report. He made the comments while touring an area hit by avian flu in Liaoning province in the northeast. In the past, Chinese authorities typically have hastened to assure the public that outbreaks were under control.

More than 10 million poultry have been culled in the Liaoning outbreak, first reported last week, the story said. The outbreak, China's fourth this fall, has affected 18 towns in Heishan County.

In addition, Agriculture Minister Du Qingling angrily accused local producers of poultry vaccines of distributing substandard and fake vaccines, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today.

Du said that because farms in the outbreak area are highly concentrated, the use of faulty vaccines could greatly increase the virus's spread. "The use of fake and shoddy vaccines will result in a disaster," Du was quoted as telling the China News Service.

Indonesian authorities are currently investigating allegations of substandard vaccine use in that country as well.

Indonesian girl tests positive
Indonesian officials reported today that initial tests point to H5N1 infection in the case of a 16-year-old girl who died this week, according to a Reuters report. Further tests are pending in Hong Kong.

The girl lived in an East Jakarta suburb near a bird market and had both chickens and pet birds at home, Reuters reported. However, initial investigation has shown no contact with infected birds or poultry, Hariadi Wibisono, a senior health ministry official, told Reuters. Investigations are ongoing.

WHO confirms Vietnamese death from H5N1

The World Health Organization (WHO) today confirmed that a 35-year-old Hanoi man who died Oct 29 was Vietnam's 42nd victim of avian flu.

Vietnamese officials announced the case yesterday, noting it was the first confirmed case in Vietnam since late July. Authorities also said the case occurred earlier than the first case of the winter flu season in Vietnam last year, which came in mid-December.

The case brings Vietnam's total reported cases to 92, for a 45.7% case-fatality rate among known H5N1 cases in humans. This is the lowest case-fatality rate among the four countries that have had human infections; Indonesia's rate is 55.6%, Thailand's is 65%, and Cambodia's is 100%. The total combined case-fatality rate from the 125 known cases and 64 deaths is 51.2%.

Another H5 outbreak in Japan
In Japan, a report yesterday said an H5 virus had been detected at a poultry farm north of Tokyo, prompting a decision to cull 170,000 more chickens.

Local officials said the virus had been found in two chicken pens at the farm in Ibaraki prefecture, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. The agriculture ministry had said a day earlier that the chickens only had antibodies to the virus.

The chickens probably had an H5N2 virus, according to officials quoted in the story. Japan has had several outbreaks of a low-pathogenic H5N2 virus in Ibaraki prefecture in the past few months. Last week H5 antibodies were found at several poultry farms in the region, prompting a decision to cull 180,000 chickens.

See also:

WHO report on H5N1 death in Vietnam

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