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H5N1 in Birds and People in Southern Iraq
February 7, 2006
The man who died in the city of Amara owned two pigeons which tested positive for the H5N1 strain, making him the first suspected human case of bird flu outside Kurdistan where two people have died of the disease.
In Kirkuk, just south of the Kurdish provinces, rumors are rampant of avian flu cases being covered up by the local government
Sabria Mohammed, a 40-year-old woman, was a carrier of H5N1 but her health improved after she was treated with the anti-avian influenza drug Tamiflu.
The above comments suggest H5N1 in birds and people is widespread in the Middle East. The H5N1 positive pigeons and linked fatal human case indicate H5N1 capable of causing fatal infections in humans is spreading.
The data create credibility issues throughout the Middle East since Amara is in southern Iraq, near Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. These data also raise credibility issues regarding denials of human H5N1 cases in Basra.
Only Turkey and Iraq have filed OIE reports on H5N1 in the Middle East, although H5N1 is clearly present throughout the area. WHO announcements of failures to confirm H5N1 outside of northern Iraq also raise credibility issues since WHO has limited travel in Iraq because of security concerns. H5N1 in pigeons in Amara however indicate that investigations in Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia should be active due to the high likelihood of H5N1 positive birds and people.
As H5N1 spread become increasingly obvious, WHO denials encourage more cover-ups of the true situation, which leads to more opportunities for dual infections and additional evolution.
The latest data indicate HA S227N has now spread throughout the region and the lack of transparency at WHO is cause for concern.