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Pakistan Says One Person Dies of H5N1 Bird Flu

Armen Hareyan's picture

Pakistan health officials have confirmed the country's first human fatality caused by H5N1 bird flu.

The Health Ministry says the victim worked at a poultry farm in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, near the border with Afghanistan.

Officials say the brother of the man infected with avian influenza also died recently, but he was not tested for the disease.

At least five other people from the same border region have recently been confirmed as suffering from the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. Pakistani authorities say two have recovered, and the remaining patients are in quarantine.

The World Health Organization said Saturday it was aware of eight suspected human cases of H5N1 bird flu in Pakistan's Peshawar region. The Geneva-based organisation says it is providing technical support to the country's Health Ministry.

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WHO says more than 200 people have died of bird flu worldwide since 2003.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.

From CDC on Bird Flu

What are the risks to humans from the current H5N1 outbreak?
H5N1 virus does not usually infect people, but more than 200 human cases have been reported. Most of these cases have occurred from direct or close contact with infected poultry or contaminated surfaces; however, a few cases of human-to-human spread of H5N1 virus have occurred.

So far, spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been rare, limited and unsustained. Nonetheless, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change, scientists are concerned that H5N1 virus one day could be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population.

If H5N1 virus were to gain the capacity to spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia and Europe very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily from person to person.