Sunday, March 20, 2005

Very worrying bird flu report

Henry Niman at Recombinomics saw it first and posted it this morning. I saw it shortly afterward on the Thanhnien news site. As far as I can make out, it was posted there about 8:30 am EST. So far there are no other reports or confirmation. Thanhnien News is a publication of the Vietnam National Youth Federation and has tended to minimize bird flu news (this is the source that earlier reported the second nurse from the Thai Binh cluster had "tested negative").

Thus the Thanhnien story this morning that a top provincial official has reported a commune in central Vietnam with 195 patients with symptoms and two confirmed H5N1 infections is extremely unsettling. As the story states, it is not clear if the symptoms are from bird flu, the "usual" human strains (H3N2, H1N1 or influenza B) or some other respiratory malady.

Here is the full report from Thanhnien:
Bird flu hits central province, 195 locals show symptoms

A commune in central Vietnam has been severely hit by the bird flu, with 195 patients showing symptoms and two children testing positive with the virus, reported a top provincial official.

Two siblings from the province’s Chau Hoa commune of Quang Binh province had tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu, said Mai Xuan Thu, vice chairman of the provincial People’s Committee on March 20.

The older sister, Hoang Lan Huong, 13, died from the bird flu on March 9, while the brother, Hoang Trong Duong, 5, is in serious condition at the Hue Central Hospital.

Meanwhile, there are 195 other local residents who have shown symptoms of the flu, said Ms. Thu.

It is not yet clear whether these people, some of who had reportedly eaten sick chickens, have the symptoms of the deadly bird flu or the normal flu.

Of the 195 patients showing symptoms, 108 are from Kinh Chau village while the rest live in other villages in Chau Hoa commune.

The outbreak hit the province’s Kinh Chau village in Chau Hoa commune just ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays which started Feb. 9.

The province is currently trying to stop the spread of the influenza by culling all poultry in the commune.
More details as they become available. With any luck we will report this is a false alarm. However, this is one way we would expect the story to unfold if it were the real thing.