Emergencies preparedness, response

Avian influenza – situation in Iraq - update 3

17 February 2006

The Ministry of Health in Iraq has confirmed the country’s second case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The case, which was fatal, occurred in a 39-year-old man from the northern province of Sulaimaniyah. He developed symptoms on 18 January and died on 27 January.

He was the uncle of the country’s initial case, a 15-year-old girl who died 17 January, and provided care for her during her illness. He also had a documented history of exposure to infected domestic birds.

Problems with the shipment of patient specimens for external diagnostic confirmation have been solved. Samples from an initial 15 patients under investigation for possible infection were tested today at a US Naval Medical Research Unit located in Cairo, Egypt. Apart from the 39-year-old fatal case, all test results were negative.

A second shipment of samples from additional patients under investigation arrived yesterday in Cairo. Results are expected within the next few days.

Duplicate samples are being sent to a WHO collaborating laboratory in the United Kingdom for further testing and analysis.