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Expansion of Quang Binh Bird Flu Cluster and Transfer to Hue

Recombinomics Commentary
March 22, 2005

>> World Health Organization representative Hans Troedsson said the cases "needed to be rapidly and thoroughly investigated."

"We have asked for an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Health," he said. "We could send a team from abroad at very short notice."

Pham Sinh Quyet, an official from the provincial health department, said a local team was sent to the commune on Saturday.

"The (200 people) figure seems to be very exaggerated. We have discovered very few sick people so far after examining seven families," he said.

"We discovered only one suspected case and the patient was transferred last night in a hospital in Hue, where we will get some samples to be tested in Hanoi," he added.

The most recent avian flu victim in Vietnam was five-year-old Hoang Trong Duong, from the same commune, who tested positive to the deadly H5N1 virus last week.

His 13-year-old sister, who died in Quang Binh hospital on March 9, is also a serious suspected case, but she was immediately buried by her family and could not be tested.  <<

The report above suggests that there will be a cluster of bird flu cases in Quang Binh, but it will be less than the 195 cited in an earlier report.  It seems unlikely that the newly discovered case cited above is the third sibling cited in earlier reports, so the status of that family member remains uncertain.  It seems likely that the family of the index case was included in the first seven families tested.

The above report also restates that the index case was not tested, but she had bird flu symptoms and died March 9.  The report also does not mention the patient from the adjacent Quang Trach district that was hospitalized on March 17 with bird flu symptoms. It is not clear if that person was also transferred to the isolation ward at Central Hue Hospital.

The number of potential cases now seems to be up to five, although the failure to mention the third sibling may indicate that there are only four thus far, including the index case.

Additional information on the third sibling, as well as the two hospitalized non-family members would be useful.  The clustering of four or five suspect cases in the small Chau Hoa commune, where up to 200 residents have flu-like symptoms, is cause for concern.

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