Research Article: Prevalence of Antibodies against Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus among Cullers and Poultry Workers in Ho Chi Minh City, 2005

Date Published: November 23, 2009

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Constance Schultsz, Nguyen Van Dung, Le Thanh Hai, Do Quang Ha, J. S. Malik Peiris, Wilina Lim, Jean-Michel Garcia, Nguyen Dac Tho, Nguyen Thi Hoang Lan, Huynh Huu Tho, Phan Xuan Thao, H. Rogier van Doorn, Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, Jeremy Farrar, Menno D. de Jong, Johan K. Sandberg.

Abstract: Between 2003 and 2005, highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses caused large scale outbreaks in poultry in the Ho Chi Minh City area in Vietnam. We studied the prevalence of antibodies against H5N1 in poultry workers and cullers who were active in the program in Ho Chi Minh City in 2004 and 2005.

Partial Text: Since their re-emergence in late 2003, highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have spread across the globe, reaching endemic levels amongst poultry in several countries. The continuing occurrence of sporadic human H5N1 infections has ignited worldwide concern about an imminent influenza pandemic with potentially devastating consequences, especially if a pandemic H5N1 virus would keep its current virulence in humans. This threat persists despite the emergence of pandemic H1N1 in early 2009, either through direct adaption of H5N1 to efficient human transmission, or through reassortment with the novel H1N1 virus in swine or in humans.

We studied the prevalence of antibodies against H5N1 among 500 poultry workers and cullers in the HCMC area in 2005. All poultry workers and cullers had a history of exposure to poultry with evidence of symptomatic infection (dying chicken with positive RT-PCR) and/or asymptomatic infection (HI positive ducks) with H5N1. None of the poultry workers or cullers had antibody titres ≥80 in microneutralization tests, which is the recommended threshold for serological evidence of H5N1 virus infection, indicating that transmission of H5N1 was low. These results are in agreement with studies performed amongst poultry workers and persons exposed to infected poultry in the household in Nigeria, Thailand and Cambodia [2], [3], [4], [5].



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