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Case Clusters of H5N1 Bird Flu in Mekong Delta in Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary
January 7, 2005

Media reports on the 5 confirmed or suspect H5N1 bird flu cases in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam fall into 2 case clusters. 

The first cluster is linked to Dong Thap Province, which is at the western side of the Mekong Delta region, adjacent to Cambodia.  The first reported case of laboratory confirmed H5N1 this season, a 16 year old female, had obtained a chicken in Dong Thap and developed symptoms in Tay Nihn. On December 26 she transferred to Ho Chi Minh Hospital for Tropical Diseases and is on a respirator in critical condition.  The other linked case, the first reported H5N1 death was a 6 year old boy, who was also from Dong Thap. He was treated at the Mekong Delta Hospital, where he died on December 30, 2004.  He was the first confirmed H5N1 death of this season.

The second cluster is on the east side of the Mekong Delta, The first H5N1 confirmed death of 2005 was a 9 year old male who transferred to Ho Chi Minh Hospital and died January 4, 2005.  He was initially hospitalized January 2 and was from Tra Vihn.  The other two H5N1 cases have not been confirmed.  One is a 14 year old boy, also from Tra Vihn.  He is in critical condition on a ventilator.  The most recent reported suspect case is an 18 year old female. She is from adjacent Tien Giang Province and is also at Ho Chi Minh hospital in critical condition on a ventilator.

Thus, there are two clusters of cases in the Mekong Delta.  The earlier cluster is linked to the western Dong Thap Province while the more recent cases are from the eastern Tra Vihn and Tien Giang Provinces. Details on the poultry linkage have not been reported, but at least two of the cases appear to involve associations with chickens.  The report of a high frequency of H5N1 positive ducks is in Can Tho city which is located midway between the two clusters.


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