No human infections of H5N1 in Kelantan: Health Ministry

Kalbana Perimbanayagam

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has confirmed that no humans have contracted the Influenza A (H5N1) virus, which has badly affected the poultry population in Kelantan.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that Kelantan’s state and district Health Departments conducted thorough checks and screenings of patients presenting with symptoms of the virus, but none has tested positive.

“So far, no case of Influenza A has been detected in humans in Kelantan.

“However, a report from the state's Veterinary Department shows that more birds in the affected locality have contracted the virus, and there is the possibility of wider spreading of the disease among poultry and birds in the state," Noor Hisham said.

As of today, two more districts in Kelantan have been confirmed to be affected by the virus, bringing the total number of areas affected to four, namely Kota Baru, Pasir Mas, Pasir Puteh and Bachok.

"We have screened a total of 3,556 residents, 133 medical personnel and 117 members of the Veterinary Department and other agencies as part of prevention and control activities to contain the virus.

”This was done in accordance with the Avian Influenza Management Guidelines 2004, to curb further spreading of the H5N1 virus," said Noor Hisham.

He added that 14 human patients showing symptoms resembling avian flu tested negative for the disease yesterday, and have been given antiviral treatment.

"We have also extended the radius to be cordoned off to a mile, from the initial 300 metres, from infected poultry or farms," he said, adding that anyone having flu-like symptoms must seek imme¬diate treatment.

Among the symptoms of H5N1 is respiratory infection, fever exceeding 38°C, sore throat, cough, headache, muscle aches, joint pain and lethargy.

Noor Hisham also reminded those dealing with chickens or birds to wear masks covering the mouth and nose, besides wearing proper safety attire, including gloves and boots.