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South Korea confirms 1st human cases

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  • South Korea confirms 1st human cases

    LEAD: S. Korea confirms 1st human cases of avian influenza

    (Kyodo) _ (ADDING DETAILS, BACKGROUND) South Korea said Friday it has confirmed its first human cases of bird flu infection, but the four people in question have not developed any symptoms of the disease.
    The state-run Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the four had been involved in slaughtering sick poultry between late 2003 and early 2004.
    More than 5.3 million birds in South Korea were culled then following confirmation of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu as the cause of poultry deaths at three farms. South Korea announced control of the otbreak in September 2004 and has since been considered disease-free.
    But the disease control center only learned of the infection of the four workers after their blood samples underwent more accurate testing in the United States and came back positive for avian influenza.
    Outbreaks of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu in birds began in Southeast Asia in mid-2003, and have since killed at least 79 people there, in addition to eight in China, four in Turkey and one in Iraq, according to World Health Organization figures.
    South Korea is among nine Asian countries that have reported bird flu outbreaks in poultry. The others are North Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia.
    Of these, Japan and South Korea have controlled their outbreaks, while Malaysia, which had been considered free of bird flu for more than a year, recently detected new cases in poultry.
    Scientists fear the H5N1 bird flu virus could mutate from a disease that largely affects poultry to one that can pass easily between people.
    Last edited by Sally Furniss; February 24, 2006, 03:28 AM.

  • #2
    Re: South Korea confirms 1st human cases

    The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed Korea?s first human bird flu infections without symptoms in an announcement yesterday.

    According to the KCDC, the cases were confirmed after it carried out an antibody test on the blood serum of 318 soldiers and workers who took part in a poultry cull from December 2003 to March 2004. Four tested positive for H5N1, a mutated bird flu strain.

    Last November, the KCDC sent the serum samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for a close examination and received the results back just recently. The KCDC said the four people, though infected, are not considered bird flu patients because they developed antibodies against the virus and have shown no problematic symptoms. The center also added that those who participated in the cull took the drug Tamiflu and displayed no bird flu symptoms afterwards.

    When bird flu was spreading in Japan in February 2004 and June 2005, no symptomatic patients were reported, but a later serum test showed that about 80 people had been infected without symptoms.

    Regarding the KCDC announcement, Lee Deok-hyung, head of the Communicable Disease Response Center under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said, ?Those infected have not exhibited any symptoms. Their serum tests were positive only. Therefore, they do not fall into the patient criteria confirmed by the World Health Organization.? Lee also said, ?Human to human bird flu infections have been nonexistent around the globe. Thus, contact with those infected and consumption of poultry are safe,? asking the public not to worry.

    However, the Welfare Ministry said, ?Because farmers raising bird flu-infected poultry and cull workers have continuously exposed themselves to the virus, they should receive special treatment and be quarantined.?

    Over the past six months, no bird flu cases have been reported in Korea, making the country a bird flu?free nation as defined by the World Organization for Animal Health.

    The Welfare Ministry announced that the discoveries of human infections from the serum tests do not affect Korea?s bird flu-free status and that the public can consume poultry products without worry. It also added it perform serum tests on 1,600 other people who participated in cull.
    Regarding the infection results, Professor Song Jae-hun at Samsung Seoul Hospital said, ?It has no meaning except as Korea?s first domestic human infections. Still, it suggests that Korea is no longer a safety zone from bird flu.?


    • #3
      Re: South Korea confirms 1st human cases

      Who is at fault here?

      Is it the Korean government?
      Is it the CDC?

      The answer is yes.