This morning, I was scanning my inbox, and happened upon a proMED email that had lodged itself in my SPAM filter. It was from yesterday and concerned a suspected H5N1 bird flu infection in Vietnam.
From the proMED report:
The deputy director of the Department of Preventive Health in the central province of Ha Tinh, Nguyen Luong Tam, confirmed on 26 Jul 2009 that a 30-year-old man died of bird flu at the General Hospital.
The man had been rushed to hospital the previous day with pneumonia, high fever, headache, muscular and joint pain, cough, breathing difficulty, and vomiting. Doctors diagnosed him as having avian influenza and isolated him. They found his lung to be seriously damaged. He died on 26 Jul 2009. Health workers later found diseased poultry at the man's house. He also had contact with a female relative, a teacher at Ngo Thoi Nhiem private High School in District 9, where 73 students and 5 teachers have contracted swine flu [that is, influenza pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus infection]. (bold mine)
So there we have it: The first reported instance where H5N1 bird flu is in very close physical proximity with H1N1 swine flu. A dead man with confirmed H5N1 had contact with a female relative, a teacher at a school that itself is overrun with swine H1N1v.
It is precisely this type of elbow-rubbing between H5N1 and H1N1v that has everyone from Atlanta to Memphis to Geneva to Tokyo very, very alarmed. You can bet the WHO has Boots On The Ground in that district as we speak. Ditto the Vietnamese government, which does the best it can do to quell bird flu (among other things, to be sure).
It is only a matter of time before we get similar stories out of Indonesia, Egypt and China.