Monday, February 5, 2007

H5N1 strain claims first human victim in Africa

Monday, February 05, 2007

By Jeremy Laurance

The first human death from avian flu in west Africa was confirmed at the weekend in what experts said was a much more serious development than the spread of the virus to a turkey farm in Suffolk.

A 22-year-old woman from Lagos, Nigeria, who died on 16 January was infected with the H5N1 virus, the World Health Organisation confirmed

Professor Angus Nicoll, head of the avian flu division of the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in Stockholm, said: "This [Nigeria] is the most populous country in Africa. It has got H5N1 in poultry and it must be a candidate for a pandemic to emerge. The most disturbing thing is that the possibility of the Nigerian government controlling this must be slim." ...

Professor Koos Van der Velden, chairman of the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme, said: "I sense the public is fed up with the all the warnings about H5N1, when they see the pandemic has not happened. But the threat is still there and the chances are higher that it will start in a part of the world which is most heavily populated and where the systems of government are weak."


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