Avian Flu Transmission May Be More Common Than Thought

Rural Vietnamese flu symptoms linked to close contact with sick or dead poultry

MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Close contact with sick or dead poultry is often associated with flu-like illness, suggesting that avian flu transmission to humans in rural Vietnam may be more common than previously thought, according to a study in the Jan. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study estimates that 650 to 750 cases of flu-like illnesses could be attributed to direct contact with sick or dead poultry.

Anna Thorson, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from interviews with 45,478 residents of FilaBavi, a rural site in Vietnam where there have been highly pathogenic outbreaks of avian influenza in poultry.

Overall, 84.4% lived in households containing poultry and 25.9% lived in households containing sick or dead poultry, with 17.9% reporting flu-like symptoms. The odds ratio of poultry exposure and flu-like illnesses was 1.04 for poultry in the household, 1.14 for sick or dead poultry but no direct contact, and 1.73 for sick or dead poultry with direct contact.

"Our epidemiological data are consistent with transmission of mild, highly pathogenic avian influenza to humans and suggest that transmission could be more common than anticipated, though close contact seems required," the study authors conclude.

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