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H5N1 Spread in Saudi Arabia?

Recombinomics Commentary
December 25, 2007

Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007
From: A reliable source known to ProMED-mail.

The epizootic of HPAI H5N1 in Saudi Arabia is spreading; 38
outbreaks have been recorded so far.

The above comments posted on Promed suggest H5N1 is spreading in Saudia Arabia. The extent of spread is unclear because OIE reports from Saudia Arabia are lagging, and media reports of outbreaks lack specifics, as does the post on Promed.

OIE reports define 5 outbreaks surrounding Riyadh (see satellite map),  Media reports have described several outbreaks, which are largely concentrated in Riyadh and surrounding suburbs.  Media reports have also described culling of more than 4 million birds in Riyadh.  Some cullers were initially hospitalized, but reports indicate they have tested negative and are not hospitalized.

Last week there was a report of a passenger at Kuwait airport acknowledging that his son had bird flu symptoms.  However, there has not been any follow-up repors on the incident.

The spread of H5N1 in Saudi Arabia would not be a surprise.  H5N1 is spreading in Germany, Poland, and Rostov, signaling migration of H5N1 into the region.  Similarly the sustain H5N1 cluster in Pakistan suggest new human cases in the Middle East are expected.

Pakistan has alerted hospitals to human cases, while Egypt and Jordan have raised alert levels for infected poultry, while Azerbaijan has banned poultry products from Iran based on rumored H5N1 infections.  In addition, Egypt has had recent outbreaks in the Nile Delta and has distributed Tamiflu to local hospitals.

More information on the outbreaks in Saudi Arabia would be useful.

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