Pakistan tests 13 people for bird flu amid poultry outbreak

Business Materials 5 February 2008 15:18 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) -  Pakistani authorities tested 12 poultry workers Tuesday for bird flu in the southern city of Karachi, and one woman who suddenly fell ill after eating chicken in north-west Pakistan, health officials said.

The workers were placed in an isolation ward at the Civil Hospital following the detection of the H5N1 virus at two poultry farms in Karachi's Gadap district during the past five days.

"A committee comprising Pakistani health officials and representatives of the World Health Organization took fresh blood samples for laboratory tests and the results were expected on Thursday," said Khushnood Akhtar, secretary of Pakistan's Ministry of Health.

Thousand of birds were culled after the presence of H5N1, which can be also deadly to humans, was confirmed at the farms.

Health workers took blood samples from a suspected bird flu patient at the Khyber Teaching Hospital in Peshawar, capital of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The woman was admitted to hospital last week after she developed pneumonia. Two days later she was moved to an isolation ward established for bird flu victims.

"We have sent her blood samples for an H5N1 virus test at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad and are waiting for the results," senior medical officer Dr Siddiqur Rahman said.

The NWFP has seen several avian influenza outbreaks among its poultry population since 2006. The country's first human case of bird flu was detected in the province late last year.

Bird flu has killed at least 225 people worldwide from 357 cases since 2003. The vast majority of human cases come from direct contact with sick birds, but scientists fear the virus may mutate into a form more easily transmissible among humans, possibly killing millions.