- (Reutrers) -- Officials in northern Iraq said on Tuesday
that they were treating 12 patients suspected of having [contracted avian
influenza] as a World Health Organisation (WHO) team prepared to travel
to the area to give urgent assistance.
- Iraq's Health Minister said on Monday that the country
may have its first human bird flu victim after preliminary test results
showed that a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who died 2 weeks ago had the H5N1
virus. WHO said it was urgently seeking further tests at a British laboratory
to confirm the diagnosis and was dispatching a team of experts to help
local health officials in Iraq's largely autonomous northern region of
Kurdistan. The British laboratory will also assess samples from the girl's
uncle, who had cared for her when she was ill, and who himself died last
week of a respiratory infection.
- "We have 12 patients in Sulaimaniya who have lung
infections that we suspect may be [caused by the H5N1 bird flu virus,"
Kurdistan's Deputy Prime Minister, Imad Ahmed, told Reuters, referring
to one of the region's largest cities. The most serious was a 54-year-old
woman who came from the same village as the dead girl and is believed to
be a distant relative of the victim. The village is close to Iraq's border
with Turkey, where 4 children died from avian influenza in recent weeks.
The head of a Kurdistan committee set up to fight bird flu said all birds
[poultry?] in areas around Sulaimaniya were being culled. "They number
in the region of 500,000," Tahsin Namiq said.
- The WHO team, composed of 4 experts in epidemiology and
infection control, will leave on Wednesday [1 Feb 2006] for Jordan and
should reach northern Iraq by the end of the week, WHO spokesman Dick Thompson
told Reuters. "The purpose of the mission is to assess the situation
on the ground. Experts from the (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organisation
may also be joining the team," he added.
- So far there have been no confirmed cases among poultry
in Iraq, but local officials say the country's porous frontiers, a raging
insurgency, and general chaos in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion
will make it hard to control any epidemic. The virulent virus has killed
at least 85 people since late 2003, mainly in 5 Asian countries where the
virus emerged. Initially, the WHO had discounted the virus as the cause
of the death of the Iraqi girl, but a WHO official said on Monday that
preliminary results from a U.S. Navy laboratory in Cairo [detected] the
H5N1 virus. "We don't have positive confirmation of H5N1 in the girl
yet. The laboratory samples should have reached the UK this morning,"
- The girl had a history of exposure to diseased birds,
WHO said on its website. The WHO said Iraq was the 7th country to report
human H5N1 infection in the current outbreak. The 1st human case occurred
in Viet Nam in December 2003.
- Turkey - Bird Flu Cases Overestimated?
- (Reuters) -- The number of people infected with H5N1
avian influenza [in the current] outbreak in Turkey may be only 12 rather
than the 21 reported by local authorities, the World Health Organisation
(WHO) said on Tuesday. Tests on samples from Turkish patients, analysed
over the past few weeks at a WHO collaborating laboratory in London, confirm
only 12 cases of the deadly H5N1 virus, with the other results negative
- The information indicating a smaller case load in Turkey
would also mean that the 4 bird flu deaths -- now confirmed by laboratories
in both Ankara and London -- would translate into a 33 percent mortality
rate. This would be closer to death rates from the disease seen in Asia.
In all, the virus has killed at least 85 people among 160 known cases since
late 2003, according to the WHO. "[Work is continuing] on on the other
9 samples, but the preliminary results from the collaborating centre in
London suggest that those are not H5N1", WHO spokesman Iain Simpson
told journalists. Laboratory work to [determine] the [genome sequences
of the viruses] found in Turkey was continuing, Simpson said. This was
important for monitoring any changes in the deadly virus and how it is
- Victims usually contract avian influenza through direct
exposure to diseased or dead poultry. Turkey has culled around 1.3 million
birds in an effort to contain the virus.
- ProMed Mail
- It has been suggested that the disease situation in Iraq
is exceptional in that suspected human cases have been reported in the
absence of prior reports of disease in poultry. However, the evidence
for this is contradictory. A previous article on the Iraq situation states
both that: "There have been no confirmed cases of [bird flu] in Iraq,"
and then later that: "The girl had a history of exposure to diseased
- Elsewhere (in a Canadian Press article by Helen Brancewell,
it is reported that: "The avian influenza-infected girl died after
developing severe pneumonia in the Kurdistan village of Raniya, about 100
kilometres south of the Turkish border and just 24 kilometres west of the
border with Iran. She had an aortic aneurysm and a history of cardiac problems.
The girl's mother rejected the bird flu diagnosis, but acknowledged that
a number of her chickens had mysteriously died before her daughter's death.
- Further information is awaited. - Mod.CP
Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
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