A 35 year old woman has become Vietnam’s 5th fatality in 2 weeks from the avian influenza virus which is spreading again through the country’s poultry farms, mainly in the south. The woman, who was transferred from Tra Vinh province and tested positive for the H5N1 [serotype] poultry virus, died on 12 Jan 2005 in a Ho Chi Minh City hospital, the state-run Labour newspaper stated on Fri 14 Jan 2005. She had suffered from high fever and respiratory difficulties 2 weeks ago after eating a chicken infected in renewed outbreaks, which struck in early Dec 2004 and [revived] fears the virus could mutate into one which could cause a pandemic.
Vietnamese officials said they suspected another death would soon be blamed on the virus. One of Viet Nam’s laboratories designated for avian influenza virus tests was also looking into whether bird flu was the cause of death of another patient, who died on Thu 13 Jan 2005 in Mekong Delta province.
The World Health Organization said the H5N1 virus was “a particularly frightening virus” as more than 70 per cent (25 people) of human cases identified in Viet Nam had died. “If strong measures are not in place, the influenza H5N1 epidemic can [could] spread to an unmeasurable extent,” Hans Troedsson, Vietnamese representative of the UN health agency, was quoted by state media as saying at a health conference on Thu 13 Jan 2005. “If this virus is [becomes] capable of jumping from human to human, the risk is that 2 to 7 million people could die,” the Labour newspaper quoted him as saying. [Emphasis added]