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Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu - conflicting reports

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  • #16
    Re: Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu - conflicting reports

    If the case will be finally diagnosed as an avian influenza virus infection, it could be useful to track the phylogeny of this (so far unknown) virus. In South Africa an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H5 is ongoing in southern regions (mainly affecting ostriches). It seems that S.African veterinary authorities have some troubles in correctly characterize the virus involved, sometimes indicated as an H6, other an H5 by PCR.

    Clearly, more information are needed to dispel the doubts around this strange case.


    • #17
      Re: Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu

      Originally posted by tetano View Post
      This symptomatic description of an illness lasting 20 minutes does not sound like influenza at all

      There are cases of sudden deaths due to influenza, which I reported
      Yes, there is historical evidence of sudden deaths due to influenza. Here is the link to Tetano's thread:


      • #18
        Re: Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu - conflicting reports

        Regardless of whether this case turns out to be bird flu or not, there is something additionally odd about these reports. H5N1 has never been found in Zimbabwe, even in poultry. Why would this case even raise the suspicion of H5N1?

        Did the case have a severe untreatable viral pneumonia, as the initial H1N1 cases in Mexico which raised a bird flu alarm? Not according to any of the descriptions above. We have several different symptomatic descriptions here, but nothing that really looks like atypical pneumonia to raise the issue of bird flu with no exposure history.

        Did the case have any contact with sick or dead poultry? None of the articles have suggested this.

        Did the case travel to an H5N1-enzootic region? No indication of this either.

        Did the case have contact with anyone else with flu-like symptoms? Although she did attend a funeral, there is no reason yet to think that funeral was flu-related.

        Is there any evidence of a comprehensive battery of tests to determine her death that might simply have come back positive for bird flu? Other than bird flu and "stress", no other potential diagnoses have been mentioned in any article.

        The only reason I can think that bird flu would even be suspected here would be political. The victim was a member of an opposition party. Would it blame or shame the ruling party to have an opposition party member die of bird flu? Could they accuse the ruling party of causing her death? If they simply wanted to accuse President Mugabe of killing this woman, there are a lot simpler things they could have suggested (cholera, deliberate poisoning, etc.) that would be easier to believe rather than something exotic like bird flu. Could they have been intentionally trying to set off panic? Possibly.

        I am really having trouble imagining what in this case could have raised the issue of bird flu.


        • #19
          Re: Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu - conflicting reports

          Published Date: 2012-01-01 12:54:35
          Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza, human (77): Zimbabwe, NOT
          Archive Number: 20120101.0002


          A ProMED-mail post

          ProMED-mail is a program of the
          International Society for Infectious Diseases

          Date: Sat 31 Dec 2011Source: The Standard, Zimbabwe [edited]

          Health and Child Welfare Minister denies bird flu death
          Mystery surrounds the cause of death of MDC-T [Movement for a
          Democratic Change - Tsvangirai] legislator. News reports said that the
          senator had died of avian influenza or bird flu, but health expects
          deny there any cases of the disease in the country. Health and Child
          Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera said the government had not raised
          any alerts of an outbreak of the disease as they had not received
          reports of a possible epidemic. “The Epidemics and Disease Control
          centre has not informed me about any outbreak, but they are closed and
          we can only know that after the holidays,” he said. Madzorera said
          he could not comment further as he had not received any news of an

          Officials from the Health Ministry also revealed that there were no
          known cases of the virus in Zimbabwe or in the region. They said it
          was highly unlikely that there could have been an outbreak in the
          country. The only recently recorded cases, the officials said, were
          reported in Hong Kong and a spread to Zimbabwe at this stage was
          highly improbable.

          But the family of the late senator insist that post-mortem results had
          indicated that the deceased senator had been afflicted with the deadly
          avian virus. The Standard could not have access to the post-mortem
          report. To add to the mystery, a Kadoma doctor reportedly declined to
          carry out a postmortem and instead referred the family to a hospital
          in Harare. “We were told that she had a swelling in her stomach
          because there was water in her lungs, but this did not make sense to
          us,” an informed source said. The source said before her death, the
          senator was down with influenza, she however developed an unnamed
          infection in her chest.

          In the past Zimbabwe’s health systems have been reported to be
          incapable of handling epidemics such as bird and swine flu. In 2010 it
          was reported that some children in Tsholotsho were affected by swine
          flu. However, results on whether it was actually swine flu were

          (By Nqaba Matshazi)

          Communicated by:
          ProMEd-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

          [As inferred in the previous post, there is no evidence, other than an
          inconclusive autopsy report, to establish the cause of death of the
          Zimbabwean senator. While avian A/(H5N1) virus infection cannot be
          excluded, in the absence of any laboratory investigation there is
          nothng to support this diagnosis, particularly as the disease has not
          been reported in Zimbabwean poultry
          . - Mod.CP.

          A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at:


          The previous post:

          Published Date: 2011-12-31 17:44:36
          Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza, human (76): Zimbabwe, human susp.
          Archive Number: 20111231.3715

          ************************************************** *****

          A ProMED-mail post

          ProMED-mail is a program of the
          International Society for Infectious Diseases

          Date: Fri 30 Dec 2011Source: Daily News, Nehanda Radio, Zimbabwe [edited]

          Senator died of bird flu
          BULAWAYO: The woman mainstream MDC-T [Movement for Democratic Change
          – Tsvangirai] senator for Mabutweni has died of bird flu, a family
          spokesperson told journalists at her house in Mpopoma high density
          suburb [of Bulawayo] on Wednesday [28 Dec 2011]. A family spokesperson
          Samuel Gombami who is brother to the senator's husband said that
          postmortem results released on Tuesday in Harare shows that she died
          of bird flu.

          “We were finally given postmortem results and they show that she was
          taken away by bird flu. We still can’t believe this as a family, we
          are in still shock,” said a relative. Bird flu also known as avian
          influenza is a contagious disease of birds, caused by avian influenza
          (A) virus. The outbreak of avian influenza of most concern began in
          poultry in South Korea in mid-December 2003. The Mabutweni senator was
          buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo. Prime Minister Morgan
          Tsvangirai and dozens of MPs and senators attended the funeral.The
          48-year-old senator died after complaining of disorientation and
          dizziness while travelling home to Bulawayo from a funeral in Gokwe on
          Boxing Day. She was rushed to a hospital in Kadoma where she died.

          (By Pindai Dube)

          Communicated by:
          ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall

          [This report was also relayed to ProMED-mail by Nati Elkin
          whose assistance is welcomed. Confirmation of
          the initial diagnosis of avian influenza is awaited. The description
          of the victim's condition on admission to hospital is not sufficiently
          specific to confirm the dignosis of influenza virus infection on
          symptoms alone. Laboratory confirmation that the death of the patient
          was the result of avian A/(H5N1) influenza virus infection is

          Likewise information on the prevalence of avian influenza virus in
          wild birds or poultry in the Bulawayo area is lacking, as is
          iformation on the extent of the victim's possible contact with
          diseased birds. Zimbabwe is not among the 15 countries that have
          reported human cases of avian A (H5N1) influenza virus infection in
          the past.

          The location of Bulawayo ca be found by accessing the the HealthMap
          interactive map of Zimbabwe at: -


          • #20
            Re: Zimbabwe: Family reports that MDC-T senator died of bird flu - conflicting reports

            Another perspective from another source.



            Ms Gombami, MDC-T Senator and also women’s league chairperson for Bulawayo province died in Gokwe on Monday last week after a short illness. She was 48.