WHO issues human-animal influenza summary and assessment

The World Health Organization recently released a summary and assessment of its most recent data regarding influenza at the human-animal interface.

The summary and assessment shows that from 2003 to December 17, 2012, the WHO received 610 laboratory-confirmed reports of human cases of A(H5N1) avian influenza virus infection, including 360 deaths. Official reports of infections came from 15 countries.

The WHO reported that there have been 32 new cases of avian influenza confirmed since the beginning of 2012. Since the last summary and assessment was issued on November 5, there have been two new cases confirmed. One of the cases was located in Egypt and another in Indonesia. The case in Indonesia resulted in a fatality.

The WHO expects an increase in reported H5N1 events in poultry during this time of year and expects to see sporadic human cases as a result. There has been no onward sustained human to human transmission and the public health risk assessment remains the same.

The United States recently reported a new human case of A(H3N2)v swine flu infection in Iowa. The case had no known contact with swine or other livestock prior to infection and no further cases were identified. Investigations of the incident are ongoing.

The WHO said that it expects clusters of human cases to appear in the United States since the virus appears to be circulating in the swine population. It said that the situation requires close monitoring.