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Wednesday, June 21

Latest on Bird Flu

I figured I'd keep you up to date to prevent any rumors or mis-information. There has been LIMITED human-human transmission, but nothing that is unexpected at this point.


The epidemiology of H5N1 human infections has not changed significantly since February 2004. Therefore, CDC recommends that H5N1 surveillance in the United States remain at the enhanced level first established at that time. However, this revised interim guidance provides an updated case definition of a suspected H5N1 human case for the purpose of determining when testing should be undertaken and also provides more detailed information on laboratory testing. Effective surveillance will continue to rely on health care providers obtaining information regarding international travel and other exposure risks from persons with specified respiratory symptoms as detailed in the recommendations below. This guidance will be updated as the epidemiology of H5N1 changes. Note: CDC is revising its interim guidance for infection control precautions for avian influenza A (H5N1). These will be issued as soon as they are available.


Current Situation

The avian influenza A (H5N1) epizootic (animal outbreak) in Asia has expanded to wild birds and/or poultry in parts of Europe, the Near East and Africa. Sporadic human infections with H5N1 continue to be reported and have most recently occurred in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, and Djibouti. In addition, rare instances of probable human-to-human transmission associated with H5N1 viruses have occurred, most recently in a family cluster in Indonesia. So far, however, the spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare, inefficient, and unsustained. The total number of confirmed human cases of H5N1 reported as of June 7, 2006 has reached 225. The case fatality rate for these reported cases continues to be approximately 50 percent. As of this date, H5N1 has not been identified among animals or humans in the United States.


The epizootic in Asia and parts of Europe, the Near East and Africa is not expected to diminish significantly in the short term and it is likely that H5N1 infection among birds has become enzootic in certain areas. It is expected that human infections resulting from direct contact with infected poultry will continue to occur in affected countries. Since no sustained human-to-human transmission of influenza H5N1 has been documented anywhere in the world, the current phase of alert, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) global influenza preparedness plan, remains at Phase 3 (Pandemic Alert).* In addition, no evidence for genetic reassortment between human and avian influenza A virus genes has been found. Nevertheless, this expanding epizootic continues to pose an important and growing public health threat. CDC is in communication with WHO and other national and international agencies and continues to monitor the situation closely.


THESE ARE THE RISK GUIDELINES WE ARE CURRENTLY USING:


A) History of travel to a country with influenza H5N1 documented in poultry, wild birds, and/or humans,† AND had at least one of the following potential exposures during travel:

• direct contact with (e.g., touching) sick or dead domestic poultry;
• direct contact with surfaces contaminated with poultry feces;
• consumption of raw or incompletely cooked poultry or poultry products;
• direct contact with sick or dead wild birds suspected or confirmed to have influenza H5N1;
• close contact (approach within 1 meter [approx. 3 feet]) of a person who was hospitalized or died due to a severe unexplained respiratory illness;

B) Close contact (approach within 1 meter [approx. 3 feet]) of an ill patient who was confirmed or suspected to have H5N1;

C) Worked with live influenza H5N1 virus in a laboratory.




As you can see, at this point it is still a non-issue, so if the machine starts cranking out warnings and hysteria, please inform others of what the CDC has released 6.20.06.

PS
There is a SUSPECTED, and as yet UNCONFIRMED, case of H5N1 in a Canadian fowl, but we are still waiting lab results. But still, the chance of human-human transmission is low and there is no need to panic, basic hygene will keep most people covered. So wash your hands and stop touching yourself (no, silly, I meant your face). ;)

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