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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bird Flu In Turkey

Well I'm back from a xmas lay-off. In recent days I have been blogging on the avian flu issue over at Afoe, (and here, and here).

Outside Turkey today there is news of an interesting study conducted in Vietnam. The study, which was published in Monday's edition of Archives of Internal Medicine, involved 45,476 randomly selected residents of a rural region where bird flu is rampant among poultry — Ha Tay province west of Hanoi. More than 80 percent lived in households that kept poultry and one-quarter lived in homes reporting sick or dead fowl.

8,149 of those interviewed reported flu-like illness with a fever and cough, and residents who had direct contact with dead or sick poultry were 73 percent more likely to have experienced those symptoms than residents without direct contact. The researchers said between 650 and 750 flu-like cases could be attributed to direct contact with sick or dead birds. While most patients said their symptoms had kept them out of work or school, the illnesses were mostly mild, lasting about three days.

As Dr. Anna Thorson of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, who conducted the study wrote: "The results suggest that the symptoms most often are relatively mild and that close contact is needed for transmission to humans,".

The idea then is that exposure is much more widespread than the official data reveal, and that the majority of cases are much more benign. This is entirely plausible.

Dr. Gregory Poland, a flu specialist at the Mayo Clinic is quoted as saying: "In the really rural areas, we know that this had to be occurring" too, and the study suggests that the prevalence "is pretty high....The data lines up biologically the way we would have expected it to."