5 January 2006
Turkey Reports Two Deaths Due to H5N1 Virus:
The First Human Infections Outside China and SE Asia
Over the past 24 hours (January 4-5) Turkey has reported the laboratory-confirmed fatal infection of two teenage siblings with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The 14 and 15 year old brother and sister ware thought to have been infected by close exposure to H5N1-infected poultry. NO evidence of a pandemic virus spreading in a sustained manner from persons-to-person-person-to person has been found. These two persons, however, are the first patients known to be infected with H5N1 outside of China and SE Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia).
The siblings lived in their agricultural town of Dogu Beyazit near the border with Armenia and Iran. They were hospitalized in the city of Van, also in eastern Turkey. Several other people from nearby areas are reported to be undergoing testing for H5N1 virus due to flu-like symptoms. Turkey’s second outbreak of H5N1 in birds/poultry was reported last week, this time from an area within 50 miles of Dogu Beyazit.
The WHO is sending a team of epidemiologists to help investigate the source of their infection, at the request of the Turkish government in Ankara. In addition, the European Union is reported to be sending a veterinary influenza expert to also provide assistance in evaluating the recent outbreak in poultry and its likely relationship with human cases. Such occurrences are likely wherever close contact exists between humans and H5N1-infected poultry, whether in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas, or anywhere else in the world.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
Director, Center for Biologic Counterterrorism and Emerging Diseases
ER One Institutes, Washington Hospital Center
Co-Director, Master of Science Program in Biohazardous Threat Agents and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Georgetown School of Medicine, Washington, DC
Website: www.BePast.org e-mail:Daniel.R.Lucey@Medstar.net