Emergencies preparedness, response

Human cases of avian influenza: situation in Viet Nam

13 August 2004

More details about the three deaths from avian influenza announced yesterday are now available.

The cases in the northern Ha Tay province were a four-year-old boy, who died on 2 August, and an 11-month-old girl, who died on 4 August. The case in the southern Hau Giang province was a 25-year-old woman, who died on 6 August. Specimens from this patient have now tested positive for the H5N1 strain of avian influenza.

WHO has also been informed that specimens from a small number of additional patients, from both northern and southern parts of the country, are also being tested. The government has been investigating cases of severe pneumonia, most of which have been fatal, that have been detected in children and young adults over the past three weeks. Specimens are not available for all of the fatal cases.

In epidemiological investigations carried out today, specimens were taken from household contacts of confirmed cases. All contacts remain healthy. Investigators have also sampled poultry and other domestic animals near the households. Results from these and other studies will shed some light on the sources of infection and modes of transmission in the present outbreak.

WHO is working closely with national authorities and is being informed as test results become available. Multiple tests are often required before results can be considered conclusive.

In its communications with the Ministry of Health, WHO has offered full assistance in sending specimens to WHO international reference laboratories for test verification and further analysis.