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Vol. I, No. 4 ~~~ EINet News Briefs ~~~ 11㪙㫺

****A free service of the APEC Emerging Infections Network*****

The EINet listserv was created to foster discussion, networking, and collaboration in the area of emerging infectious diseases (EID's) among academicians, scientists, and policy makers in the Asia–Pacific region. We strongly encourage you to share their perspectives and experiences, as your participation directly contributes to the richness of the "electronic discussions" that occur. To respond to the listserv, use the reply function.

In this edition:

  1. Avian flu update
  2. Overview of infectious–disease information from Pro–MED
  3. How to add colleagues to the EINet listserv

1. Avian flu update

The HK Department of Health and CDC continue to investigate all confirmed and suspected cases. A cohort study was conducted to compare the prevalence of influenza A(H5N1) antibody in 502 people exposed to the first known case–patient or to poultry to that of a non–exposed group of 419 Hong Kong residents. Samples were tested for antibody to influenza A(H5N1) virus using a micro–neutralization assay. In the exposed group, elevated neutralization antibody titers to influenza A(H5N1) were present in 9 (2%), whereas specimen in the unexposed group as well as the four family members of the case–patient, were negative.

Antigenic and genetic analyses of viral isolates from 7 case–patients indicated two closely related but distinguishable groups of influenza A(H5N1) viruses, suggesting multiple introductions in humans from poultry sources. All 7 of the influenza a(H5N1) viruses analyzed from human cases contained all 8 RNA gene segments from avian viruses, indicating that genetic reassortment between avian and human influenza viruses has not occurred. While person–to–person transmission for exposure to ill and infectious persons has not been ruled out of the possibility by the investigation, it appears that the virus is probably not being efficiently transmitted at this time. <From MMWR, 9/1/98>

Agence France Presse reported today that an agricultural official in Guangdong province said that the 1.7 million chickens that died there between Nov 1996 and Apr 1997 died "from bacteria and diarrhea" due to farm mismanagement and inexperience, and their deaths "had nothing to do with bird flu." Hiroshi Kida, a WHO official in Taiwan had said last week that China had covered up an outbreak of avian influenza.

FLU CONTROL – URGENT, PLEASE READ At least two APEC member economies have considered screening travellers from Hong Kong to protect their people against avian flu. Please be advised that WHO has carefully reviewed the Hong Kong cluster of H1N5 illness (16 cases to date) and has determined that no travel advisories or screening of travellers is warranted at this time. In addition, a number of economies have embargoed live chickens exported from Hong Kong and the Peoples Republic of China in response to the outbreak. It should be noted that Hong Kong does not export live poultry, and that an international team will visit the PRC next week. We will forward the findings of that visit when they are made known. Trade disruption because of emerging infections is always costly, any potential risk of avian flu is limited to persons with direct contact with infected poultry with low level transmission from person to person (which has not been documented). If listserv members have additional information to contribute they are welcome.

2. Overview of infectious disease information

Here is our weekly summary of relevant Asia–Pacific postings to the ProMED Electronic Network, which is a prototype for a communications system to monitor emerging infectious diseases globally as an initiative of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and co–sponsored by WHO. More information about PROMED can be acquired contacting the moderator. Please contact the moderator if you would like more any of the reports below:


Update: There have been 29 cases of dengue 3 infection confirmed in North Queensland. The majority of cases (24) are linked, having stayed or worked in the vicinity of a hostel in Cairns. Recently new clusters have been identified away from this initial area. Control efforts are continuing in an attempt to limit further virus transmission <from Debbie Phillips, WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus Reference and Research>


DENGUE (04) 10ם㫺 There have been an estimated total of 1,500 clinically suspected dengue cases seen at Ministry of Health Facilities in the last three to four weeks. Suspected cases seen to date are estimated at more than 500, with at least 80 admissions. There have been no additional deaths beyond the first three reported. There have been at least 20 suspected DHF cases reported from hospital wards, including the three deaths. Radio Australia reported on 6/1/98 that the Fiji Government Virus Laboratory in Suva has determined that the current dengue fever outbreak is caused by a new strain of the virus. The Health Ministry of Fiji has announced it will welcome any overseas help to combat the outbreak.


DENGUE 1ם㫺 The number of recorded cases of dengue in Thailand in 1997 (77,155 with 178 deaths) is being partly blamed on the El Nino phenomenon that brought warmer than usual temperatures. But Dr. Nara Nakwattananakul, deputy director of the health department said more data are needed to prove the connection. "If El Nino is the cause, we will have to be on alert to handle next year's situation." Thailand's annual rainy season is over, but the normally cool winter months have been warmer than usual, and Bangkok residents have noticed an increase in the number of mosquitoes. "The longer the weather remains warm, the more mosquitoes multiply, increasing the spread of tropical diseases," Nara told the Bangkok Post.

3. How to leave this list or post comments to it

The APEC EINet listserv was established to enhance collaboration among academicians and public health professionals in the area of emerging infections surveillance and control. Subscribers are encouraged to share their own material with their colleagues in the Asian–Pacific Rim by addressing comments to apec–ein@u.washington.edu. To subscribe or unsubscribe, please contact Nedra Floyd Pautler at pautler@u.washington.edu. Further information about the APEC Emerging Infections Network is available at http://www.apec.org/infectious.
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June 25, 1998

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