The Ministry of Health in Pakistan has informed WHO of 8 suspected human cases of H5N1 avian influenza infection in the Peshawar area of the country. These cases were detected following a series of culling operations in response to outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry. One of the cases has now recovered and a further two suspected cases have since died.
Samples taken from the suspected cases have tested positive for H5N1 in the national laboratory and are being forwarded to a WHO H5 Reference Laboratory for confirmation and further analysis. The MoH is taking steps to investigate and contain this event, including case isolation and contact tracing and monitoring, detailed epidemiological investigations, providing oseltamivir for case management and prophylaxis, reviewing hospital infection control measures and enhancing health care-based and community-based surveillance for acute respiratory infections.
WHO is providing technical support to the MoH in epidemiological investigations, reviewing the surveillance, prevention and control measures that have been implemented and carrying out viral sequencing of avian and human isolates.
Multiple poultry outbreaks of H5N1 influenza have been occurring in Pakistan since 2006. In 2007, there have also been outbreaks in wild birds. A majority of the outbreaks discovered have been in the ?poultry belt’ of North-West Frontier Province, particularly in the Abbottabad and Mansehra area and cases of infection in wild birds have been identified in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
Source: World Health Organization, Switzerland