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Bird flu in Pakistan

18th December 2007

A man has died from avian influenza in Pakistan, the first confirmed human death from the H5N1 virus to be recorded in the country.

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Five other people have also been confirmed as infected with the virus, with a second death - the man's brother - still under investigation in the North West Frontier Province following the infections in late October.

The health ministry said the five other bird flu patients had all now recovered.

This is the first time Pakistan has recorded human infections with H5N1, which is still mainly an animal disease. Outbreaks in poultry have already occurred, however, with the first one recorded in 2006.

No further cases in birds or people had been recorded in the past two weeks, however, according to federal health secretary Khushnood Akhtar Lashari.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is putting together an investigative team which will arrive in Pakistan in a few days' time.

The cases bring the worldwide number of human H5N1 infections to 340, with 209 deaths from the disease to date, according to WHO figures.

Bird flu has so far mostly been traced to contact with sick birds, but experts fear the virus may mutate to a form easily transmissible between humans, causing a pandemic which could kill millions globally.

WHO said there were a further eight suspected cases in the Peshawar region of Pakistan, and two of them had died, but H5N1 was yet to be confirmed.

It was not yet clear whether the cases had shown any signs of being transmitted between humans, nor whether the virus had shown any signs of mutating to do so.

Indonesia has had the heaviest toll, with 115 human cases including 92 deaths, followed by Vietnam with 100 cases and 46 deaths.

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Article Information

Title: Bird flu in Pakistan
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 5105
Date Added: 18th Dec 2007

Sources

Reuters News
Nature
Global Health Council

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