- United States Department of State (Washington, DC)
- Posted to the web February 7, 2007
- By Cheryl Pellerin
- Washington, DC
- The first human death from avian influenza has been reported
in Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the
highly pathogenic Asian strain of bird flu has been found for the first
time in the United Kingdom. The H5N1 virus was found in turkeys found
dead on a farm in Suffolk, United Kingdom.
- On February 6, the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population
also announced a new human death from H5N1 virus infection. The case was
confirmed by the Egyptian Central Public Health Laboratory and by the
U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No.3 (NAMRU-3) in Cairo, Egypt. (See
- "NAMRU-3 collaborates very closely with the Egyptian
government and, as a WHO reference laboratory, conducts testing at the
request of the Egyptian Ministry of Health to identify or confirm suspected
[avian influenza] cases," said Navy Lieutenant Andrew Stegall, NAMRU-3
administration director, in e-mail correspondence.
- The 17-year-old female from Fayyoum governorate developed
symptoms January 25 and initially was treated for seasonal influenza.
She was hospitalized February 1 with fever and breathing difficulties,
and died the next day.
- Initial investigations into the source of exposure indicate
the presence of sick and dead poultry at her home in the days before
she became ill. Of 20 cases confirmed to date in Egypt, 12 have been fatal.
- FIRST U.K. OUTBREAK
- In the United Kingdom, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency
confirmed February 3 that the H5N1 virus is similar to a January outbreak
on a farm in Hungary, where thousands of geese were killed.
- A February 3 report filed by Debby Reynolds, chief veterinary
officer with the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(DEFRA), with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris,
showed that 2,500 turkeys had died of the viral infection and 4,500 had
been destroyed. The outbreak began January 27.
- Poultry are being isolated from wild birds in the area,
according to a February 6 DEFRA statement, and all bird gatherings -
including shows, markets, fairs and pigeon races - have been banned throughout
England, Scotland and Wales until further notice. Investigation continues
into the source of the outbreak.
- The U.K. Health Protection Agency advised that the current
level of risk to people from H5N1 is "extremely low."
- FIRST HUMAN DEATH IN AFRICA
- The Nigerian government announced February 3 the presence
of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in a 22-year-old female from Lagos who
died January 16. The victim's mother died January 4 with similar symptoms
but no tests could be done because no blood samples were taken.
- The Nigerian fatality brings the total number of human
cases around the world since 2003 to 272, with 166 deaths.
- The London-based WHO Collaborating Center for Reference
and Research on Influenza confirmed the initial positive test findings
of a laboratory in Nigeria. Investigations are under way to identify
the source of the Nigerian woman's infection.
- H5N1 virus has been identified in poultry outbreaks in
Nigeria and, as in other affected countries, according to WHO, sporadic
cases of human infection with avian influenza are not unexpected.
- WHO says it is working with the Nigerian government to
carry out intensive surveillance; reports of other suspected cases may
occur as people with influenza-like symptoms seek medical advice.
- ACCELERATED VACCINES
- In the meantime, WHO and OIE are working with partners
to find ways to improve and promote the development and production of
pandemic vaccines. (See related story.)
- One such activity, WHO announced February 1, is to help
make pandemic vaccine viruses, which are required to produce pandemic
flu vaccines, available to vaccine producers earlier than in the past.
- After analyzing biosafety risks, WHO and OIE agreed that
if the pandemic preparedness alert phase reaches level 4 (evidence of
increased human-to-human transmission) or above, pandemic flu vaccine
viruses that WHO Collaborating Centers have developed can be made available
to vaccine manufacturers before all safety tests are complete, including
tests in chickens and ferrets.
- WHO uses six phases of pandemic alert to inform the world
about the seriousness of a threat and the need for progressively more
intense preparedness activities. The WHO director-general designates the
- Each phase recommends activities to be undertaken by
WHO, the international community, governments and industry. The world
is now in phase three - a new flu virus subtype is causing disease in
people but is not yet spreading efficiently and sustainably among them.
Phase six reflects efficient and sustained person-to-person transmission.
- The accelerated procedure could reduce the time needed
to develop pandemic vaccines by about 14 days.
- Member states wishing to receive such vaccine viruses
should make advance arrangements with customs authorities, courier companies,
national regulatory agencies and other authorities, WHO advises.
- (USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
- Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
- Univ of West Indies
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message
- Also my new website:
- Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
- Go with God and in Good Health