International Notes - Avian influenza, Viet Nam - Update

Volume 31-06  15 March 2005

On 6 January 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) received reports of laboratory tests conducted in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, indicating two new human cases of avian influenza. Both patients died.

Initial tests have identified the H5 subtype of avian influenza virus. Further testing is under way.

The first patient was a 6-year-old boy from the southern province Dong Thap. He died on 30 December 2004.

The second patient was a 9-year-old boy from Tra Vinh Province, also located in the southern part of the country. He was hospitalized on 2 January and died 2 days after.

The additional recent case in Viet Nam, reported in late December, remains hospitalized in critical condition.

All three of these most recent cases occurred in the southern part of the country, where poultry outbreaks have been recurring since December 2004.

Close contacts with these cases are being monitored for any signs of illness. Health authorities in Viet Nam, supported by WHO staff, have undertaken several measures to strengthen case detection. Avian influenza viruses become more active when temperatures turn cooler. Activities associated with the approach of the lunar New Year festivities in early February may also increase the risk of further human cases.

Source: WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record, Vol 80, No 2, 2005.

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