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Health Care Worker Bird Flu Positive in Thai Binh Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary
March 7, 2005

>>  The man was admitted to the tropical diseases unit at Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital on February 28 and was in stable condition, the unit's doctor said on condition of anonymity.

The hospital also is treating a 21-year-old man and his 14-year-old sister, also from Thai Binh, and a 35-year-old woman from Hanoi, she said. A 69-year-old man had died earlier.

Health officials were unsure how the latest victim contracted the disease but said he had worked as a nurse at the medical centre at Thai Thuy District in Thai Binh province, caring for the 21-year-old man, Diu said. <<

The clustering of a health care worker with bird flu infected patients has not been previously reported in Vietnam.  Such transmission is a clear indication of more efficient human-to-human transmission. 

Transmission from patient to care giving relative is common and has been well documented in the 11 previously described familial clusters.  All had bimodal disease onset dates, conclusively demonstrating human-to-human transmission.  Failure to issue warnings on such transmissions is beyond scandalous.

Now the transmission has almost certainly been from patient to nurse, providing more evidence of efficient human-to-human transmissions.  Usually nurses will exercise universal precautions, which minimize transmission. 

Details will be useful, but the Thai Binh clustering, in the absence of reported bird flu infections in poultry, is cause for significant concern.

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