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Another Death From
H5N1 In Vietnam

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
State Media Report Death Of Student In Viet Nam
(Agence France-Presse) -- A Vietnamese student has died from the H5N1 strain of bird flu, the
country's 4th victim of avian influenza this year, state media reported on Tue [7 Aug 2007]. The 15 year old victim's family had kept ducks at their home in Thanh Hoa province, south of the capital Hanoi, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported. The death, which could not immediately be verified with government officials, would bring to 46 the number of people who have died of bird flu in Viet Nam since the killer virus broke out here in late 2003.
Communist Viet Nam, once the nation worst hit by bird flu, contained earlier outbreaks through mass vaccination campaigns, the culling of millions of poultry, and public education initiatives. But the virus resurfaced strongly earlier this year [2007], especially among waterfowl, hitting scores of poultry farms in an outbreak that at its peak in May spread to 18 of Viet Nam's 64 provinces and municipalities.
As of this week, only 3 provinces remained affected, and 160 million head of poultry had received bird flu shots in the year's first round of vaccinations which was ongoing or finished in all provinces, officials said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recorded 319 cases of bird flu in humans worldwide, 192 of which have been fatal. The Geneva-based body has yet to confirm the latest death in Viet Nam with laboratory tests.
Experts fear the global death toll could rise sharply if the virus were to mutate and become easily transmissible between humans, leading to a global pandemic with the potential to kill millions. Last week [30 Jul - 3 Aug 2007] WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said global bird flu cases appeared to have stabilised among humans but that several developing nations had not been able to stem its spread among poultry and domesticated birds. "The number of human cases of bird flu appears to be stable when compared to the same period last year," Hartl said. "In the northern hemisphere, the number of cases in summer has declined marginally from the winter. "Human to human transmission are very rare. We think there have been 3 cases -- in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Indonesia. And each time the person has had prolonged and direct contact with an affected person," Hartl said.
World Bank vice president for East Asia and the Pacific James Adams, speaking earlier on Tuesday [7 Aug 2007] during a visit to Hanoi, warned that the bird flu threat remained. "The magnitude of the challenge in this region is exceptional because this is a region where livestock lives in close proximity to the human population," he told a Hanoi media briefing. "We are trying to emphasize from the development side that the needs of the veterinary systems and the health systems do need to be pushed and have to be reinforced."
There is an increasing discrepancy between the number of human cases confirmed by the Vietnamese Health Ministry and the number listed by WHO. According to the Vietnamese Health Ministry the death of the student reported above raises the number of human cases since the beginning of 2007 to 7 with 4 fatalities, and the total number of cases since 2003 to 100 with 46 fatalities. As of 25 Jul 2007 WHO has confirmed only 95 cases and 42 deaths. Clarification of the situated would be welcomed.  - Mod.CP
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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Go with God and in Good Health


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