Thursday, January 05, 2006

Human bird flu is in Turkey (alas)

I truly hate to be right, sometimes. This is one of those times. BBC is reporting (6 pm EST, 1/4/05) that the 14 year old boy who died last weekend did indeed have avian influenza, as we suspected (see blog post here). The family lived and worked on a poultry farm in remote eastern Turkey (north of the Iraqi border).
[Turkish Health Minister Recep] Akdag's statement contradicted a ministry statement earlier this week, which said the boy's death was not caused by bird flu.

The 14-year-old boy died on Sunday. He was among two brothers and two sisters between 6 and 15 years old who were admitted to hospital in the country's southeastern Van province last Saturday after developing high fevers, coughing, and bleeding in their throats. The children helped to raise poultry on a farm and were in close contact with sick birds. They became sick after reportedly eating one of them. (CNN)
Two other patients in the same region, an adult of 35 and another child of were also reported to be at the same hospital. Poultry in Turkey, Russia, Croatia and Romania have now been infected with H5N1.

And human cases of bird flu are now in Eurasia.

Update, 1/5/05: AFP is now reporting a second of the four infected siblings has died. They also say that three other cases, besides the additional members of the index family and the previously known adult and five year old, are being treated at the hospital in Van in eastern Turkey. Reuters says that in addition, six more people, this time from Igdir province (on the Armenian border to the north of the other seven cases) have been hospitalized.

If these all turn out to be bird flu cases, as seems likely, this will make fifteen cases in the space of a week (nine in Agdir province and six in Igdir). We don't know how many of these will turn out also to be bird flu. All the confirmed cases are claimed to be bird to human cases, but even so, this suggests bird to human transmission may be getting easier. It is worth noting that Turkey declared that they had eradicated the virus in poultry in this region three weeks ago after culling a reported 10,000 birds.