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New H5N1 bird flu cases in China, Vietnam

New human cases of H5N1 avian influenza, involving a 19-year-old Chinese woman who died of her infection and an 8-year-old Vietnamese girl who is recovering, reported by public health officials in two countries – China and Vietnam.

In Beijing, local health authorities said the woman died yesterday after getting sick on Dec 24 and being hospitalized 3 days later, Xinhua, China’s state news agency, reported today. Tests at two labs revealed she was infected with the H5N1 virus.

If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the case, she will be listed as China’s 31st H5N1 case-patient and 21st fatality. Her illness marks China’s first human case since February 2008.

The Beijing Municipal Health Bureau told Xinhua that the woman bought nine ducks at a market in Langfang city in neighboring Hebei province on Dec 19. She removed the ducks’ internal organs and then gave three of the birds away to family and a friend.

Zhao Qingchao, a Langfang City official, said investigators found that 13 people ate the ducks but only the woman got sick, Xinhua reported. He said the ducks were from Jixian county in northern China

Beijing’s health bureau said 116 people had close contact with the woman and that 102 of them were medical workers, according to the Xinhua report. One nurse who had contact with the patient had a fever but has since recovered.

The WHO’s office in China released a statement saying the woman’s death from the H5N1 virus should not prompt alarm, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. “We are concerned by any case of human H5N1 infection. However, this single case, which appears to have occurred during the slaughtering and preparation of poultry, does not change our risk assessment,” the WHO said.

Meanwhile, an official from Vietnam’s Preventative Medicine Department told AFP that the 8-year-old girl, from Thanh Hoa province in northern Vietnam, got sick with pneumonia on Dec 27 after eating poultry and was hospitalized on Jan 2. If her case is confirmed by the WHO, she will be listed at Vietnam’s 107th case-patient.

Nguyen Huy Nga, who directs the department, said tests revealed the girl’s H5N1 infection on Jan 3. Her case is Vietnam’s first since March 2008.

An official with the provincial health department said he expected that the girl would be discharged from the hospital soon, according to the AFP report.

Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy, USA

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New H5N1 bird flu cases in China, Vietnam
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