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Cablegate: Ministry of Health Confirms Human Case of Avian Influenza

VZCZCXRO1889
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHBJ #0585 0510027
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200027Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5130
INFO RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 8977
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 3849
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0007
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 8893
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 8638
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 5837
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC 0711
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BEIJING 000585

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

BANGKOK FOR REO AND CDC
HHS FOR OGHA - STEIGER, HICKEY
CDC ATLANTA FOR CCID AND COGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR CH
SUBJECT: MINISTRY OF HEALTH CONFIRMS HUMAN CASE OF AVIAN INFLUENZA
IN HUNAN PROVINCE

REF A) BEIJING 7567 (2007)

1. (U) SUMMARY: Chinese authorities retrospectively confirmed a
human case of avian influenza (H5N1) in January in Hunan Province.
The young man died on January 24, 2008. Tests of respiratory fluids
taken and saved from the patient were tested last week by the
Provincial CDC and confirmed influenza the diagnosis of type A,
H5N1. National-level confirmation by the China CDC occurred on
February 17, 2008. A separate case of avian influenza in poultry
was reported from Tibet on February 6 and confirmed on February 17.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The Ministry of Health transmitted a fax to the Embassy on
February 18th providing details of a reported avian influenza case
in Hunan Province. The case, a 22-year-old male (family name Li),
occurred in Jianghua County, Yongzhou Prefecture, Hunan Province
last month. Li became sick on January 16, 2008, and went to see the
doctor in the local hospital on January 22nd, presenting with
symptoms of fever and headache that did not respond to medical
treatment. On January 23rd, the patient was transferred to Jianghua
County Hospital #1. The symptoms worsened with severe dyspnea and
death occurred at 5pm on January 24. On Feb. 15, 2008, the Hunan
Center for Disease Control and Prevention conducted retrospective
tests on the fluid samples collected from his respiratory tract. The
results were positive for avian influenza virus (A/H5N1).

2. (U) On the night of Feb. 17, 2008, the Chinese Center for Disease
Control and Prevention re-tested the samples and confirmed Hunan's
results as being positive for avian influenza virus (A/H5N1). Using
the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of human highly
pathogenic avian influenza and the Chinese diagnosis standards, an
MOH expert panel on human avian influenza diagnosed and confirmed
this case as human highly pathogenic avian influenza.

3. (U) Since 2003, China has reported 28 cases of avian influenza
(H5N1), with 18 human deaths. This case in Hunan is the first in
2008 and comes almost 2 months after China reported a family-related
cluster (father and son) of H5N1 avian flu in humans (Ref A). Local
health officials in Hunan report that they took appropriate control
measures, putting those who might have had close contact with Mr. Li
under strict medical observation. To date, no symptoms have been
identified in those being observed.

4. (SBU) On February 19th, the Embassy also received notice from the
Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) of an (H5N1) avian influenza outbreak
among poultry in Tibet. The outbreak was confirmed by the National
Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory on February 17th. The outbreak
occurred in Se Ma Village, Nai Qiong Township, Dui Long De Qing
County, Lhasa City, Tibet. According to MOA's notice, 180 chickens
were affected, and 132 died. In response to the outbreak, MOA and
local authorities culled over 6,200 chickens and 1500 ducks in the
immediate area, and vaccinated all other poultry within a 5 KM
radius of the occurrence. The outbreak has been reported to OIE.

5. (U) Comment: This chain of confirmatory testing at different
levels followed the typical procedure in China for cases of avian
influenza (H5N1): national-level confirmation prior to an
announcement by MOH and MOA to the international community. The
case in Hunan occurred during the worst snow storm in 50 years.
Prolonged low temperatures and heavy snow caused blackouts and
chaos, perhaps contributing to a delay in testing of the specimens
until after the weather improved and officials returned from their
week-long Spring Festival Holiday. It is worth noting that this
isolated case was not associated with an avian influenza outbreak
among poultry - the typical pattern of such reporting in China.

RANDT

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