[editing is mine]
Taipei, June 21 (CNA) A 20-year-old Taiwanese woman has been infected
with the H6N1 avian influenza virus, the first time the flu strain has
been reported in humans anywhere in the world, a Department of Health
(DOH) official said Friday.
Yang Ching-hui, a division chief at
the DOH's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), said the case was first
reported to the center by a local hospital May 20.
said it was unable to classify the subtype of avian influenza A virus
found in the patient's respiratory specimen," Yang said.
patient, who lives in central Taiwan and works at a breakfast shop,
developed mild pneumonia in early May and was hospitalized on May 5,
"The patient was discharged from the hospital on May 11 after recovering from her illness," Yang said.
According to Yang, the patient had never been abroad and had no history of contact with poultry.
CDC eventually determined that the woman's virus was the H6N1 strain
after further examining her respiratory specimen and looking at their
whole genome sequence, Yang said.
The CDC later found that 36 people had come into contact with the patient, and four of them had flu-like symptoms.
"But after examining them, we found that none were infected with the H6N1 virus," Yang said.
Jen-hsiang, director of the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Center, said
H6N1 is a low pathogenic bird flu strain and is commonly found in
"There had never been reports of human infection of this
strain of virus until now," Chuang said, adding that there was no
evidence of person-to-person transmission in this case.
genome sequencing of the virus isolated from the Taiwanese patient's
respiratory specimen most closely resembles the H6N1 virus isolated from
locally grown chickens, Chuang said.
Antiviral medications Tamiflu and Relenza have proved effective in treating the virus so far, he said.
DOH has informed the World Health Organization, the United States, the
European Union, Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong of the case,
Wang Jen-hsien, commander of the CDC's infectious
diseases prevention and control network in central Taiwan, said the case
was a sporadic one.
"It probably resulted from environmental pollution," Wang said.
According to Wang, the H6N1 virus mainly spreads among poultry and has been detected in poultry raised in Taiwan in the past.
Pan-hua, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant
Health Inspection and Quarantine, said the agency had collected samples
from two poultry farms in the vicinity of the patient's home, but did
not find any sign of the H6N1 virus.
"We have ordered the poultry farm operators to tighten sanitation management," he added.
said the government's decision to ban the slaughter of live poultry at
traditional marketplaces from May 17 will contribute to protecting
people from being infected by avian flu viruses.
(By Kung Jui-yun and Sofia Wu)