14 April 2007
WHO posts a 1996-2007 Update on H5N1 Influenza in Animals and Humans and Convenes a Conference on Clinical Aspects of H5N1.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated their detailed chronology of events related to the H5N1 Avian Influenza A virus on their website. Notably, this very useful 17-page reference is divided into two columns. The first column of data pertains to animals and the other to human-related H5N1 events. This most recent update was posted April 2, and includes events fro 1996 through March 2007.
WHO has also posted a one-page overview of the “2nd WHO Consultation on Clinical Aspects of Human Infection with Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus.” This conference was held March 19-21 in Antalya, Turkey and included 100 international participants. The 1st such WHO Consultation was held May 2005 in Ha Noi, Vietnam. Results of the conference last month in Turkey will be shared via a publication, according to the WHO website.
Currently, however, WHO has stated that some of the anticipated information to come from this conference includes updated knowledge and understanding of:
1. The incubation period of the virus
2. Clinical and pathological manifestations of the disease
3. The length of virus shedding
4. Patient responses to antiviral drugs, and other treatments
In terms of recent human infections, Egypt has reported the largest number of laboratory-confirmed H5N1 patients. In 2007 Egypt has reported to WHO 16 patients, four of whom have died. The most recent death was reported on the WHO website April 11th and involved a 15 year-old female from the Cairo governate. The total number of laboratory-confirmed H5N1 virus human infections is now 291. Of these, 172 (59 %) have been fatal.
Hopefully, the March 19-21 WHO Consultation will further our understanding of why this extremely high case fatality rate of nearly 60% occurs and what additional interventions might result in a marked reduction.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
Director, Center for Biologic Counterterrorism and Emerging Diseases, EROne Institutes, Department of Emergency Medicine
Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC
Adjunct Professor Microbiology and Immunology
Georgetown University Medical Center