Bird Flu Facts Update

Posted on October 2, 2007

Despite serious efforts to control the deadly H5N1 virus outbreaks continue. Humans also continue to catch and die from the virus although the much feared pandemic has not occured. Reuters collected these facts containg information from the OIE, WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • More than 30 countries have reported outbreaks in the past year, in most cases involving wild birds such as swans.
  • The virus has killed at least 201 people since 2003, according to the WHO. Countries with confirmed human deaths are: Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Laos, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
  • In total, the virus is known to have infected 329 people since 2003, according to the WHO. Many of the dead are children and young adults.
  • The WHO says that Vietnam and Indonesia have the highest number of cases, accounting for 132 of the total deaths.
  • The H5N1 virus is not new to science and was responsible for an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Scotland in 1959. Britain confirmed new cases in birds in Scotland in April 2006 and in eastern England in February 2007.
  • H5N1 is not the only bird flu virus. There are numerous strains. For example, an outbreak in 2003 of the H7N7 bird flu virus in the Netherlands led to the destruction of more than 30 million birds, around a third of the country's poultry stock. About 2.7 million were destroyed in Belgium and around 400,000 in Germany. In the Netherlands, 89 people were infected with the H7N7 virus, of whom one (a veterinarian) died.
  • The H5N1 virus made the first known jump into humans in Hong Kong in 1997, infecting 18 people and killing six of them. The government ordered the immediate culling of the territory's entire poultry flock, ending the outbreak.
  • Symptoms of bird flu in humans have ranged from typical influenza-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat and muscle aches, to eye inflammations (conjunctivitis), pneumonia, acute respiratory distress, viral pneumonia, and other severe and life-threatening complications.
  • The latest bird flu death to occur was a 21-year-old West Jakarta shop attendant. This person died last Friday. 86 people have now died from bird flu (h5n1) in Indonesia.

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