Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bird Flu Returns To Asia, Deaths In Three Countries

This report in the Jakarta Post supplies a fairly comprehensive round-up of recent events, and makes for a concerning 'big picture' view of the H5N1 spread :
Bird flu has resurfaced in parts of Asia, with human deaths reported in Indonesia and China and fresh poultry outbreaks plaguing other countries during the winter months when the virus typically flares.

Indonesia, the nation hardest hit by the H5N1 virus, announced its 93rd death on Friday after a 47-year-old man died a day earlier in a Jakarta hospital, said Health Ministry spokesman Joko Suyono. He fell ill on Dec. 2 and was admitted with flu-like symptoms, becoming Indonesia's 115th person infected with the disease.

In China, the military in eastern Nanjing banned the sale of poultry this week after a father and son were sickened by the disease earlier this month. Health officials confirmed the 24-year-old man died from the virus a day before his father, 52, became sick. It was the country's 17th bird flu death.The two were believed to have eaten a traditional dish known as "beggar's chicken," in which the bird is wrapped in lotus leaves and baked. However, the cause of infection remained unclear. The father is recovering after taking the antiviral Tamiflu, said Hans Troedsson, World Health Organization representative in China. More than 80 people who had contact with the family were being monitored for symptoms.

Local animal health officials said last week no H5N1 outbreaks had been detected among the province's poultry, but Troedsson said sick birds typically are not reported prior to human deaths in China...

That's startling news. Mass deaths of poultry birds aren't officially logged unless their human deaths?

Officials in Pakistan were investigating the country's first suspected bird flu cases Friday after two poultry farm workers died this week after being hospitalized with flu-like symptoms in Peshawar, said Khushdil Khan, medical superintendent of the Khyber Teaching Hospital.

Meanwhile, the disease has resurfaced in several provinces across Vietnam in recent months, killing or forcing the slaughter of thousands of birds. So far, 46 people have died from the virus nationwide.

Hong Kong closed its famed Mai Po bird sanctuary to the public for three weeks starting Friday after a wild gray heron discovered nearby tested positive for the virus.

Russia and Poland also have experienced recent outbreaks among poultry, but neither have detected human cases.

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