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Pakistan`s human bird flu cases rise to 8

19 December, 2007

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BEIJING: World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday the cases of H5N1 avian influenza among people in Pakistan have risen to eight.

WHO spokesman Greg Hartl gave the confirmation about the first such cases in Pakistan`s remote North-West Frontier province through a telephone interview.

He detailed that one patient died, six recovered and one remained under medical supervision in the cities of Abbotabad and Mansehra.

The eight cases have a combination of infections from poultry and limited person-to-person transmission from close contact, according to Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of WHO`s global influenza program.

"Right now it doesn`t look like pure human to human transmission. It looks like the veterinarian, who was the index case, and a number of other suspect cases had poultry exposure," Fukuda said in an interview.

"It is definitely possible that we have a mixed scenario where we have poultry to human infection and possible human to human transmission within a family, which is not yet verified."

But human-to-human transmission "would not be particularly surprising or unprecedented," he added.

Pakistani and WHO officials said there was no immediate cause for alarm and the United Nations agency was not raising its level of pandemic alert for the time being.

Fukuda said it was very reassuring that "we are not seeing large increases in the number of cases."

But some public health officials worry that should the virus gain the ability to transmit easily among humans, a pandemic could occur.

Hartl said, "Our concern is that once this virus remains in the animal population, it mutates into a more transmissible form. And the more they (the viruses) stay in the animal population, then we have a panic situation."

The WHO Tuesday noted the death of Indonesia`s latest avian flu patient, a 47-year-old man from Tangerang who died Dec 13. The country`s overall H5N1 count has reached 115 cases with 93 deaths.

Since 2003, the health agency has tallied 341 cases among people in 14 countries and regions, 210 of them fatal. 


Reader Comments:

Bird Flu Still the World’s Most lethal threat to Humankind

It everyone thought that the mutated human killer variant of bird flu had died a death over the last few months as there has been little in the media, I would on safety grounds respectfully inform people as follows with an update of recent international sources.
1. China - a father and son were diagnosed with the virus, state media said on Wednesday 12th December 2007, 60% of all infected have died from the killer disease (The Economic Times, India).
2. Pakistan - For the first time in the history of Pakistan, Bird Flu influenza has been confirmed among human beings after two brothers died (Online - International News Network, Pakistan – Thursday 12th December 2007). Now your story states that 8 people have been diagnosed with the killer disease.
3. China - China Pessimistic about Bird Flu Outbreaks - Experts in China worry about the rising number of cases of patients with the Bird Flu (Reuters News, 10th December 2007).
4. Indonesia - A Indonesian man from an area west of the capital Jakarta died from bird flu on Thursday (Reuters, 13th December 2007).
5. Poland - A fresh outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus bird flu has been discovery at two poultry farms (Independent Online, South Africa, 12th December 2007)
6. Benin - The west African country of Benin has recorded its first suspected cases of bird flu (AFT, 7th December 2007)
7. Russia - An outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu on a farm in southern Russia (Houston Chronicle, 12th December 2007)
8. Saudi Arabia - he bird flu scare that has gripped Saudi Arabia and forced the government to cull almost 4.5 million birds (Arabian Business.Com, 13th December 2007)
etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.

But the most disturbing news this week is that scientists have created the human killer virus in the lab and reported this only this week. The dreaded H5N1 avian flu, as feared, finally mutated last August into a virulent form that can easily spread from person to person, increasing the likelihood of a pandemic that could kill hundreds of millions — much like 1918's infamous Spanish flu. Luckily, this mutation was the creation of scientists at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the mutated strain lives — for now — only in Petri dishes. But it shows that this is clearly on the horizon now, for if it can be created in the lab, it is only a matter of time before it can replicate itself in the world-at-large. For as Greg Poland of the world renowned Mayo Clinic said, there has been a 28-fold increase in the number of times the deadly strain has jumped to humans, killing 60 percent of the people it has infected. Compare that to the Spanish flu, which wiped out only 2 to 20 percent of its hosts but resulted in about 100 million deaths worldwide. We absolutely will have an influenza pandemic, we just don't know when or how severe it will be (MSN.Com, Health, 12th December 2007).

Again therefore we would state, that the only hope that we have to stop what could be possibly the most devastating pandemic ever, is to adopt the strategy put forward by Professor Kennedy Shortridge, the man who first identified that the virus had jumped to humans in 1997 and at that time stopped a global pandemic hatching then. Overall, governments have to back this strategy before it is too late.

Dr David Hill
World Innovation Foundation
Bern, Switzerland

david hill, Pakistan - 20 December, 2007

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