Specimen from patients for bird flu virus sent for testsA team of 35 experts carried out epidemiological surveillance
The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division has collected specimens of 179 people who came in contact with a man who died from bird flu virus (H5N1).
Of the 179 samples, 172 were taken from hospital staff—doctors, nurses, lab technicians, cleaning staff and others, who were involved in the treatment of the patient. The remaining seven samples are of the family members of the deceased, according to the division.
“We are preparing to send samples abroad for tests,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the division told the Post, “I can assure you that no other people have so far been infected with the deadly disease.” He said that the division would send samples to the laboratory, recommended by the World Health Organization.
The division had formed a rapid response team following the confirmation of H5N1 virus to be the cause of death of a 21-year-old man from Kavrepalanchok district, who had been residing in a rented room in Bhaktapur.
The unidentified man died on March 29, while receiving treatment for influenza-like illness in Kathmandu. Doctors at the hospital, where he was admitted for treatment, had sent his throat swab for examination at the National Public Health Laboratory. The laboratory failed to confirm the type of virus and sent the specimens to the WHO’s Collaborating Center for Influenza in Japan, which confirmed the presence of Influenza A (H5N1) on April 30.
Following the confirmation of the deadly virus responsible for the death of a patient, a jumbo rapid response team of 35 members, comprising experts from the WHO regional Office in Delhi, WHO Nepal country office, WHO-South-East Asia Region, Food and Agriculture of the United Nations, UNICEF, World Food Programme was formed to carry out an epidemiological surveillance.
Doctors from Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, lab technicians from the National Public Health Laboratory, doctors from Patan Hospital, members of the National Health Information Education and Communication Center and experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development had also participated in the surveillance.
Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, chief of zoonotic and other communicable disease management section, said that the samples would be sent to the country recommended by UN health agency.
“We have initiated the process to send the collected samples out of the country for examination,” said Adhikari. He however, refused to reveal name of the country where the samples are being sent.
Earlier, WHO officials suggested sending specimens to its Collaborating Center for Influenza in Japan, which confirmed the virus. Such labs are in several countries and the UN health body suggests sending samples to these countries, according to Adhikari.
The division has contained all collected samples in biosafety level-3 laboratory of the National Public Health Laboratory.
The government has not yet revealed the identity of the man who had died of bird flu virus. It was the first case of death in Nepal from the contagious virus and first H5N1 human infection since February 2017. Doctors say H5N1 or bird flu virus is a lethal bird flu virus strain that is highly pathogenic