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Quang Binh Bird Flu Patients Transferred to Hue Isolation Ward

Recombinomics Commentary
March 21, 2005

>>  Provincial authorities learnt of the outbreak after Thanh Nien newspaper carried a news report on Sunday, March 20 saying that 195 people in Chau Hoa commune had symptoms of the bird flu - a disease that had killed at least a dozen people in Vietnam since late last year.

In addition, two children in the commune fell ill and were taken to a hospital in Dong Hoi town in March.  The 13-year-old girl died at the hospital on March 9, testing positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian influenza, according to health authorities.

However, the Dong Hoi hospital never reported the case to provincial leaders, a Thanh Nien investigation showed…….

Tests are being carried out with all 195 suspected patients to determine whether they are infected with bird flu.

Meanwhile, patients with unusual symptoms have been transferred to a special hospital in the central city of Hue for quarantine treatment. <<

The above report answers some questions, but more test results will be required to determine if the situation is as serious as it appears.  The report indicates that the index case did test positive for H5N1, although it is unclear why the results were not reported earlier.  The brother was tested in Hanoi at the Institute of Tropical Diseases, where other patients from Thai Binh had been tested.  It seems likely that the test on the index case was also in Hanoi. 

The onset date of symptoms for her brother is unclear because it appears that his admission to the Hue Central Hospital (about 80 miles to the south of Dong Hoi) was a transfer from the Dong Hoi hospital and may reflect a deterioration of a condition that began earlier and closer to the onset date for the index case.

The transfer of additional patients to an isolation ward in Hue Central Hospital also points toward an infection more serous than human flu.  The bird flu possibility is also increased by the consumption of dead chickens by other residents of the commune.

If these patients are infected with H5N1, additional cases in the Mekong Delta region would be expected because that is where most of the infected chickens were located, as well as the more severe human cases.  There has been little news on human cases in the south since news abruptly halted just before the start of the Tet Lunar New Year on February 9.

The test results on the patients in isolation at Hue Central Hospital are taking on added importance.

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