Homeland Security

17 November 2005

Human Bird Flu Cases Total 130, U.N. Health Agency Says

New cases, deaths in China and Indonesia account for increase

With laboratory confirmations of new bird flu cases in China and Indonesia, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports November 17 that 130 humans have now been stricken with the H5N1 avian influenza virus that has resulted in the death or destruction of more than 150 million birds.

More than half the people infected – 67 – have died from the disease.

WHO affirms the announcement from Beijing officials November 16 that its Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has detected the first appearance of the disease in Chinese people. Four other nations – Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam -- previously have reported human cases of bird flu since the widespread outbreaks began in poultry almost two years ago.

Although Chinese officials reported three human cases, WHO has affirmed only two because of a lack of laboratory confirmation in the death of a 12-year-old girl that Chinese experts attributed to avian influenza.

A 9-year-old Chinese boy recovered from his infection; a 24-year-old woman, a poultry worker, died. (See related article.)

The WHO also has confirmed reports of two more human deaths from the Ministry of Health in Indonesia. Like many of the victims of H5N1 so far, they were young – a 16-year-old girl and a 20-year-old woman. Both victims from Jakarta died within days of the onset of symptoms.

The international health community warns that H5N1 infection has the possibility to develop into a full-fledged pandemic. This influenza strain rarely has appeared in humans before, so people have no immunity to it. 

So far, contact with infected birds has been identified as the source of disease for the sick people in all but a few cases. The virus does not appear to be contagious among humans, but if it becomes so, medical authorities believe disease could spread quickly worldwide, causing millions of deaths and widespread economic and social disruption.

For additional information on the disease and efforts to combat it, see Bird Flu (Avian Influenza).

A detailed breakdown of the human cases and where they have occurred is available on the WHO Web site.

The text of the WHO situation report follows:

(begin text)

World Health Organization
[Geneva, Switzerland]

Avian influenza – situation in China, Indonesia – update 41
17 November 2005
China

The Ministry of Health in China has confirmed the country’s first two human cases of infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The first case is a 9-year-old boy from the southern province of Hunan. He was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms on 17 October and has since returned home, fully recovered.

The second case is a 24-year old woman who worked as a poultry farmer in the south-eastern province of Anhui. She developed symptoms on 1 November, was hospitalized with severe pneumonia on 7 November, and died on 10 November.

Testing was conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing.

An additional two possible human cases have been investigated in Hunan Province. The first is the boy’s 12-year-old sister. She was hospitalized on 16 October and died the following day of severe bilateral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Samples from the girl are inadequate for testing, and the cause of her death will probably never be known with certainty. Although evidence pointing to H5N1 infection is considered substantial by Chinese experts, WHO reports only laboratory-confirmed cases.

The additional case under investigation in Hunan is a 36-year-old schoolteacher. He was hospitalized with pneumonia on 24 October. Definitive test results are pending. A WHO team with expertise in virology and laboratory diagnosis has collaborated with national experts in the investigation of the cases in Hunan.

Surveillance for human cases in China intensified over the past month following a recurrence of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in poultry. Since 19 October, China has reported 11 fresh outbreaks of the disease in six provinces, from Liaoning in the northeast of the country to Xinjiang in the far west. Hunan and Anhui – the two provinces with confirmed cases – are among the recently affected provinces.

Indonesia

The Ministry of Health in Indonesia has today confirmed a further two cases of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. Both cases were fatal.

The first newly confirmed case was a 16-year-old girl from Jakarta. She developed symptoms on 4 November, was hospitalized on 6 November, and died on 8 November.

The second case was a 20-year-old woman from Jakarta. She developed symptoms on 5 November, was hospitalized on 9 November, and died on 12 November.

Both cases were confirmed by a WHO reference laboratory in Hong Kong. Field investigations are under way.

The newly confirmed cases bring the total in Indonesia to 11. Of these, 7 have been fatal.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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