Bird Flu :: Avian influenza ? situation in Lao People’s Democratic Republic ? update

The Ministry of Health in Lao People’s Democratic Republic has confirmed the country’s first death from H5N1 avian influenza.

The 15-year-old female from Vientiane, whose infection was announced 27 February, died on 7 March after being hospitalized in neighbouring Thailand.

Since 2004, some 270 humans have been infected with bird flu in 10 countries, with about 167 fatalities, mostly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization.

With the flu spreading around the world, the virus has turned up in birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. So far, bird flu has mostly been passed from birds either to other birds or, in isolated cases, to humans. In June 2006, WHO reported the first case of human transference of the disease, when an Indonesian man died after catching the flu from his 10-year-old son.

If the flu mutates into a strain that can pass more readily from human to human, people will have no immunity and the flu will probably pass rapidly from person to person, creating a pandemic. Flu vaccines can only be made to protect against a particular virus, and, since the virus had yet to be passed from human to human, no vaccine has been developed.

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