Two more human cases of avian influenza, or “bird flu,” have been confirmed in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam – the first to come from the country’s south, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) has reported.
The H5N1 virus strain identified in the current outbreak was present in a 13-year-old boy who died last Thursday and in an eight-year-old girl who is hospitalized in stable but critical condition, according to a WHO update posted on Saturday. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
The two cases join five fatal cases in Hanoi, in Viet Nam’s north, since 30 December. Two boys in Thailand have also been diagnosed as suffering from the disease.
A WHO team in Viet Nam is working with local authorities to conduct epidemiological investigations and assess what control measures are needed.
The nine human cases in Viet Nam and Thailand have emerged at the same time as the H5N1 virus strain has swept through the poultry populations of several Asian countries, including Cambodia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam. Millions of birds have died or been slaughtered over the last month.
The first recorded outbreak of H5N1 infection in humans occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, when 18 people developed the disease and six died.