Human To Human H5N1 (Bird-Flu) in Vietnam?????

After slaughtering chicken, man catches H5N1

VietNamNet Bridge – An H5N1 avian influenza victim is now being treated at Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi.

It seems that there has been a very serious development in the H5N1 virus saga, if the above mentioned story from VietNamNet Bridge is true.

To begin with, it is bad enough that Vietnam has now got the first victim of the Bird Flu virus since 2005 and it no longer is “bird-flu free”!

The victim had apparently been infected by handling infected chickens as he “helped slaughter chickens” at his friend’s wedding.

However the real problem is the second part of the story.

The victim’s niece had to be hospitalised as well and she was also suspected of having caught the H5N1 virus.

The really big story in this news item however, is that apparently “The girl didn’t have contact with fowl, didn’t eat fowl meat but she took care of her uncle.”

If that is true (and I have my doubts about this) then we have the first known case of human to human infection of the H5N1 virus!

Let us all prey that the above is not true. 

Here is the link to the news item:



6 Responses

  1. Limited h2h-infections have happened many times before. So even when this story is true, there’s nothing new.

  2. This would not be the first H5N1 case, do some research and check your facts, there have been several family clusters where members of the family did not have direct contact with chickens, just their other family members. YOu can find this is some old strings on

  3. Yes there have been several so called “family clusters” of the H5N1 infection before.

    However the human to human infection was never confirmed in any one of them.

    In almost all of those cases the infected family members were also exposed to infected poultry in some form.

    Please understand that in order for a human to human infection of the H5N1 to take place, the H5N1 virus must mutate into a human form of virus.

    We have all been very, very lucky, that the said mutation of the virus has not as yet happened.

  4. In reference to your article; you mentioned that there has not been an instance of human-to-human transmission of the avian influenza virus (H5N1). There have however been more than half a dozen cases of limited human-to-human transmission of the virus:

    1. International Herald Tribune, “Human bird flu transfers may be undercounted”, by Donald G. McNeil Jr. THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sunday, June 4, 2006 “On may 24, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, estimated that there had been “at least three.” Then on May 30, Maria Cheng, a spokeswoman fro the UN health agency, said there were “probably about half a dozen.” She added, “I don’t think anybody’s got a solid number.” “And Dr. Angus Nicoli, chief of flu activities at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Stockholm, acknowledged that “we are probably underestimating the extent of person-to-person transmission” “Dr. Henry Niman, a biochemist in Pittsburg, has argued for weeks that there have been 20 to 30 human-to-human infections.”
    2. The New England Journal of Medicine, “Probable Person-to-Person Transmission of Avian Influenza A”, volume:352:333-340, January 27, 2005, Number 4. “Conclusions: Disease in the mother and aunt probably resulted from person-to-person transmission of this lethal avian influenza virus during unprotected exposure to the critically ill index patient.”
    3. The New England Journal of Medicine, “Three Indonesian Clusters of H5N1 Virus Infection in 2005”, volume:355:2186-2194, November 23, 2006, Number 21. “Limited person-to-person H5N1 transmission could not be excluded in two clusters among patients who had no known contact with poultry or other animals.”
    4. International Herald Tribune, “Rapid tests for bird flu are flawed, studies show.”, By Donald G. McNeil Jr., THE NEW YORK TIMES, “In the Indonesian cases, the authors, a mix of experts from Indonesia, The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, concluded that human-to-human transmission had probably taken place in two of the three family clusters.” “In one case, a 38 year-old government auditor appeared to have caught the flu from his 8-year-old daughter or her 1-year-old sister. All three died; his wife and two sons did not become ill. No one in the family had any known contact with poultry, wild birds, animals or sick people, so the source was a mystery.” “The Dogubayazit cluster was a cause celebre for some internet flu-watchers following Turkish media reports in January. They argued that widespread human-to-human transmission seemed to be taking place, and that it may have begun at a banquet in late December attended by members of two related families named Ozcan and Kocyigit.”
    5. World Health Organization, Avian influenza – epidemiology of human H5N1 cases reported to WHO, 30 June 2006. “This was the first confirmed case of a family cluster in the village of Kubu Simbelang, Karo District, North Sumatra. All cases were members of an extended family – sisters and brothers and their children—who resided in four households, three of which were next-door neighbors in Kubu Simbelang. The fourth household was about 10 kilometers away in the village of Kabanjahe. Limited human-to-human-to-human transmissions cannot be ruled out.”
    6. Please refer also to World Health Organization Avian Influenza – Situation in Indonesia update 16, 17, and 18. Situation 18 relates that two health care workers taking care of patents from the Kubu cluster also got sick. Initial tests concluded that they did not get sick from the patients, however later tests of genetic sequencing completed by Dr. Henry Niman revealed that this is the first confirmed case of limited human-to-human-to-human-to-human transmission.
    …H5N1, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region, 1997: Highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) infections occurred in both poultry and humans. This was the first time an avian influenza A virus transmission directly from birds to humans had been found. During this outbreak, 18 people were hospitalized and six of them died. To control the outbreak, authorities killed about 1.5 million chickens to remove the source of the virus. Scientists determined that the virus spread primarily from birds to humans, though rare person-to-person infection was noted.
    In 1997 in Hong Kong, there was evidence of limited transmission of H5N1 virus to health care workers and household contacts of patients. These contacts exhibited mild or no illness and did not transmit the disease to others.

  5. Sorry Mell, but all of these are “Probable Person-to-Person Transmission of Avian Influenza A”, “Limited person-to-person H5N1 transmission could not be excluded and so on.
    At no point has there been a solid confirmation of person to person infection of the virus.

    You have obviously followed the development of the virus, so I am sure that you are well aware of the fact, that for H-to-H infection to take lace, there has to have been a substantial mutation of the current virus, to a degree that, I am very glad to say, has not as yet happened.

    I believe that in all of the above mentioned cases, what can not be excluded, is the possibility of contact of all the victims in the “family cluster” with infected poultry in some way or another.

    Thank you for your comment however. It is great to know that serious people like you are closely following this sorry saga.

    Our sister site, is in the process of creating a “pandemic flu forum”.

    I hope that you would enrich the said forum, with your experience. Thanks again. JM

  6. Thanks for this.. In our west bengal, so far we have not noticed any such incident… but given that our poor medical administration, probably if such incident happens… it will not come out soon in the news. Now we are noticing fears of bird flu striking Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana that emerged after death of some birds….particularly after the death of two migratory birds (bar-headed geese) in Jammu and Kashmir that has triggered fears of bird flu in the state. Many of poultry workers are visiting hospitals for H5N1 testing.

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