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CIDRAP NEWS SCAN: Flu deaths in remote Laos; Avian flu outbreaks in 2 countries

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  • CIDRAP NEWS SCAN: Flu deaths in remote Laos; Avian flu outbreaks in 2 countries


    News Scan for Apr 12, 2019
    Flu deaths in remote Laos; Avian flu outbreaks in 2 countries

    Filed Under:
    Influenza, General; H1N1 2009 Pandemic Influenza; Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
    Deadly flu outbreak strikes remote Laotian tribe

    An outbreak of 2009 H1N1 seasonal flu in a remote indigenous hill tribe in Laos killed 16 people and triggered a quick response from local health officials in Thailand, according to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which also assisted.
    The outbreak in Phongsaly Province occurred in December and January and came to the attention of public health officials because of its high death rate. Authorities quickly sent antiviral drugs and provided health education and hygiene and sanitization interventions to slow the spread of the outbreak.
    As part of the response, the CDC regional flu program in Thailand worked with Thailand's health ministry to send an emergency supply of oseltamivir from Thailand to Laos in less 24 hours. Health officials also redirected flu vaccine from Laos' ongoing seasonal flu campaign to the tribe, enabling more than 2,200 people to be vaccinated and achieving a 74% vaccination rate. The CDC said no new deaths have been reported, and the epidemic curve shows a decline.
    An investigation is underway into why the 2009 H1N1 outbreak was so deadly. However, the CDC added that rural, remote populations are often not vaccinated against seasonal flu and typically have little access to healthcare. Malnourishment and underlying medical conditions are additional risk factors, it said.
    The CDC said close connections between animals and people in rural Laos raise the risk of flu viruses spreading among people and animals, conditions that can give rise to novel flu viruses. It added that a cooperative agreement between the CDC and Laos has improved the country's ability to respond to flu threats and immunize people against seasonal flu. "Due to this relationship, Laos was the first lower-middle income country to establish its own sustainable influenza vaccination program," it said.
    Mar 6 CDC international program highlight

    H5 outbreaks strike poultry in Bhutan and Bulgaria

    In the latest highly pathogenic avian flu developments in poultry, Bhutan reported an outbreak involving H5N1 and Bulgaria reported three more outbreaks from H5N8, according to separate reports from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
    Bhutan's outbreak, its first since August 2018, struck backyard birds in Chhukha district in the country's southwest. The outbreak's location is close to the Indian border town of Jaigoan in Bengal state. The event began on Apr 6, killing 264 of 2,000 susceptible birds. The remaining ones were culled, as were 2,000 more thought to be at high risk of infection. So far, the source of the virus hasn't been determined.
    Elsewhere, Bulgaria's latest H5N8 outbreaks occurred in Plovdiv province in the south central part of the country, with start dates ranging from Apr 4 to Apr 8. One involved backyard birds and two occurred on poultry farms. Taken together, the virus killed 635 of 203,787 birds.
    Apr 11 OIE report on H5N1 in Bhutan
    Apr 11 OIE report on H5N8 in Bulgaria