Monday, January 31, 2005

Bird flu: quick weekend update (1/29 -1/31)

Quick survey of weekend developments:
  • Two more deaths, including a Cambodian woman who came over the border to Vietnam to get treated. Suspect case in Central Highlands (first such report) and seven suspect cases in Hanoi hospitals. No confirmation yet on Cambodian death or the others regarding H5N1, but it is considered likely.
Update (2/1/05): H5N1 infection as a cause of death has been confirmed in the woman from Cambodia.
  • Vietnam to host a regional meeting late in February from bird flu affected countries
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health will sponsor the meeting in Ho Chi Minh City from Feb. 23 to 25, according to the food agency representative in Vietnam, Anton Rychener. "Participants will discuss the control of the outbreak and the measures that could possibly be undertaken," Rychener said. (International Herald Tribune)
There are no details as to which countries will attend but last February (2004) 23 countries met in Bangkok under similar circumstances to discuss culling strategies, surveillance, carcass disposal and similar issues related to the poultry epidemic. This year's meeting will also likely look at public health issues. Twelve confirmed H5N1 deaths have occurred so far this year, all in Vietnam. The number continues to climb.
  • The disease continues to spread among poultry in Thailand, now involving six provinces. That country saw 12 deaths in last year's outbreak and is on high alert for human cases. (News24, South Africa).
  • In Vietnam 31 of 64 provinces are currently involved and almost 1 million birds have been culled. Hanoi now has a central slaughterhouse at the city's largest poultry market. Sales are usually high during the Tet (Lunar New Year) Holiday but are down 50% in the last two weeks. Last year's ban on sale and transport of poultry has yet to be repeated but birds without health certificates are being confiscated and destroyed (via Irish Examiner).
In summary, no encouraging news, much to worry about.