Killer Flu - The Plague II Dec 19, 2007 8:51:12 GMT -5
Post by Big Bunny on Dec 19, 2007 8:51:12 GMT -5
No threat of bird flu pandemic: Pakistan
From correspondents in Islamabad
December 19, 2007 10:52pm
PAKISTAN said there was no threat of a pandemic from bird flu, as World Health Organisation experts carried out tests in the country's northwest after eight people were infected by the virus.
Pakistani authorities confirmed the eight cases at the weekend, including one death.
The WHO said they were likely to be a combination of infections from poultry and limited human to human transmission of the H5N1 avian flu virus due to close contact.
The WHO says a similar case occurred in Indonesia in 2006 among family members believed to have contracted the virus while caring for sick loved ones.
"There is no threat of epidemic or pandemic and there are no fresh cases being reported," Ministry of Health spokesman Orya Maqbool Jan Abbasi said. The last human case was reported on November 23.
"I think we are safe, but we are very cautions and have taken all the precautionary measures."
A WHO report is due within days, Mr Abbasi said.
The man believed to have been infected first, a veterinarian who helped operations to cull chickens, recovered but his two brothers died.
One of his dead brothers tested positive for the virus. It was not clear if the other brother was infected with H5N1.
Six people have since recovered, while the remaining case is still being treated.
The H5N1 virus is hard for humans to catch and is mainly a bird disease. But experts fear the strain could spark a global pandemic and kill millions if it mutates into a form that spreads easily between people.
Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of the WHO's global influenza program said there was no immediate cause for alarm and the UN agency was not raising its level of pandemic alert for Pakistan for the time being.
"Right now it doesn't look like pure human-to-human transmission. It looks like the veterinarian, who was the index case, and a number of other suspect cases had poultry exposure."
"It is definitely possible that we have a mixed scenario where we have poultry to human infection and possible human to human transmission within a family, which is not yet verified," he said, in an apparent reference to death of two brothers.
Since H5N1 resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, the virus has killed 209 people in 11 countries, according to the WHO. The latest Pakistan cases have yet to be included in the formal WHO tally.