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WHO confirms one person positive for bird flu in Pakistan, more testing ongoing

WHO confirms one person positive for bird flu in Pakistan, more testing ongoing

The World Health Organization has confirmed that at least one person tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Pakistan and medical workers are trying to determine if others were infected, an official said Friday.
Up to eight people who initially tested positive for bird flu in a government laboratory have tested negative in two WHO-approved laboratories, said Khalif Bile, WHO country representative in Pakistan. But further analysis is being carried out to look for antibodies in their blood to determine for certain whether they were infected, he said.
A WHO team from Geneva visited the affected areas in Pakistan last week to investigate whether limited human-to-human transmission could have occurred, especially since five brothers were suspected of being infected. One of those siblings tested positive in the WHO analysis, and samples were never collected from another brother who died.
"No one else was positive so far," Bile said. "That again puts the question to human-to-human, but it's still premature. I think that the good news is that there are no more cases, and there have been no more positive poultry outbreaks for the last four weeks."
He said it would likely take about a week for the final test results to be available. But the suspected human cases, Pakistan's first, have raised awareness among health workers and the public.
"We are checking anyone who has pneumonia and anyone who has symptoms compatible with avian influenza," Bile said. "There is very strong surveillance going on in the affected areas."
At least 212 people have died from the H5N1 virus worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003. The virus remains hard for people to catch, but experts fear it will morph into a new form that spreads easily among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.
So far, most cases have been linked to contact with infected birds.
A number of other countries also have recently reported bird flu. On Wednesday, Egypt, Vietnam and Indonesia each announced a human death. Earlier this month, Myanmar reported its first human case _ a girl who survived _ and other countries have experienced poultry outbreaks.
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Associated Press medical writer Margie Mason contributed to this report from Hanoi, Vietnam.


Updated : 2021-04-15 08:03 GMT+08:00