Emergencies preparedness, response

Avian influenza – situation in Turkey - update 3

10 January 2006

Tests conducted in Turkish laboratories have confirmed the country’s 15th case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The patient is a 37-year-old woman with a history of exposure to diseased chickens. She resides in the central province of Sivas, the seventh province to report cases. Although no poultry outbreaks have been officially reported in this province, it is located near areas with confirmed outbreaks in birds.

The situation in birds continues to evolve, with several new outbreaks under investigation in new parts of the country. All evidence to date indicates that patients have acquired their infections following close contact with diseased birds.

The Turkish government has launched an intensive public awareness campaign. Better public understanding of the disease, supported by more complete data on disease activity in birds, could help to reduce the risk of additional human cases, pending control of the disease in birds. As the majority of confirmed cases and persons under investigation are children, it is particularly important that messages about high-risk behaviours reach children.

Some 100,000 treatment courses of oseltamivir (Tamiflu) arrived in Turkey Friday evening. This supply, which is being used for both the treatment of patients and prophylaxis of persons at risk, is considered by Turkish health officials to be adequate for responding to the current situation. WHO has organized additional support for laboratory diagnostic work, and this will be arriving within the next day or two.

Dr Marc Danzon, the WHO Director for its European office, will be arriving in Ankara tomorrow to confer with the country’s Minster of Health. They will assess the situation together and review needs for further support.