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4th Confirmed Bird Flu Fatality in Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary
January 13, 2005

>>There has been no evidence to avian flu being spread from human to human. So far, investigators say the majority of victims have had contact with sick birds.<<

Today the 4th death (18F) in Vietnam was confirmed as being H5N1 positive, but the 5th confirmed case who is also 18F has a 15 year old sister who is among the 10 suspect bird flu cases.  The sisters are the closest reported cases to human to human transmission this season, although there were suspect clusters in Vietnam and Thailand last season.

Interestingly, in the Philippines there are clear cut human to human transmissions of an illness called meningococcemia-like illness.  There are 8 cases of meningococcemia confirmed disease, where the bacteria have been isolated. Two have died, to generate a case fatality rate of 25%.  However, WHO has acknowledged 25 additional cases where no bacteria have been isolated, but 17 have died, generating a case fatality rate of 68%, virtually identical to H5N1.  Although there are some clinical features in common with the meningococcemia patients, there is much in common with avian influenza.  The infectious agent can transmit human to human and has a neurological manifestation in some patients (and many of the more virulent H5N1 isolates are also neurotropic).

WHO set up a command post, but if this is H5N1, then it's a major problem.

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