Monday, November 07, 2005

Quick bird flu status summary

Here is a concise official summary of the avian influenza situation from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (via a ProMed email):
H5N1 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has moved westwards; outbreaks have been confirmed in Turkey, Romania and Croatia. Sporadic outbreaks have been reported in Russia, resulting in some deaths/culling of domestic poultry. Resurgence of the disease in China's main farming areas is also a concern. Human fatalities have been confirmed or suspected in Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam. Countries in Europe, the Near East and Africa have started implementing various preventive measures. (Bulletin #35)
We are also awaiting more news about the death of a 19 year old Indonesian woman and her 8 year old nephew, who lived with her in in Tangerang, near Jakarta. both reported as confirmed cases. A nurse who tended the deceased case is also symptomatic, as are the woman's daughter and another nephew. Preliminary tests on the nurse are reported negative but require confirmation. This familial cluster with the possible illness of a health care worker would be a warning sign of human to human transmission (Jakarta Post). We will have to wait to see how this turns out.
Meanwhile, after repeated denials that the death of a child in a bird flu endemic region of China was from H5N1, China has agreed to let WHO's reference laboratory verify that her death and those of two others was not caused by bird flu, a fact which the Chinese authorities can no longer guarantee.

China said Sunday it had asked for outside help to test three possible cases of bird flu in people, while scientists and government representatives prepared for a strategy session in Geneva amid fears of a possible worldwide flu pandemic among humans.

China said it asked the World Health Organization to help determine whether the virus caused the death of a 12-year-old girl and infected her 9-year-old brother and a 36-year-old middle school teacher in Wantang, a village in central Hunan province.

Chinese experts "cannot rule out the possibility of human transmission of H5N1 bird flu" in the cases of the three, who came down with pneumonia last month following a bird flu outbreak among poultry in their village, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. (AP via Mercury News)
So we have more outbreaks in poultry and two suspected human to human clusters to keep our eye on.