Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bird Flu Scare At Sydney Airport

Emergency Response Plan Goes Into Action

The man taken to a Sydney hospital with a suspected case of bird flu is instead feeling the effects of a burst bag of drugs in his stomach, reports Yahoo7News.

The 36-year-old arrived from Vietnam this morning and remained in isolation while he underwent tests which revealed he had swallowed heroin.

The passenger was allegedly a drug mule, carrying a stomach full of heroin-filled condoms which burst mid-flight.

It is understood he was unconscious for several hours during the flight before being taken to St. George Hospital, in Sydney's south.

The man's wife claimed her husband had recently visited a farm in Vietnam and eaten chicken.

Fellow passengers were initially quarantined but have now been allowed to leave.

That the other passengers on the flight were "initially quarantined" is a fact not revealed in any of the media reports earlier today, as I highlighted at the bottom of the original story below.

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As a major centre of international travel, Sydney has one of the most comprehensive response plans to the arrival of bird flu in the world. Today, the Bird Flu Response Plan got a full workout.

A man travelling from Vietnam to Sydney was already ill before he boarded the plane. Passengers have told ABC news that he was unconscious for most of the trip. The pilot, as required by law, radioed ahead to say there was an extremely ill person on board. He was taken off the flight at Sydney International Airport, by bio-suited medical staff, and taken to St George Hospital, which has a quarantine facility specifically set up, last year, to deal with international travellers who might be sick with bird flu.

The man is reported to have admitted he and his wife had visited a poultry farm in Vietnam, shortly before travelling to Australia, and they had eaten chicken at the farm.

All the passengers on the flight in question have had their personal details collected, but have not been tested for bird flu, or isolated, as the Bird Flu Response plan would require were any of them also showing signs of infection. It appears none were.

It is highly unlikely that the man, under quarantine for the time being, is carrying an infectious form of bird flu. That he is sick with the bird flu virus has not yet been ruled out, but the health authorities are not concerned enough to have quarantined all passengers and flight crew, as per the response plan.

The man is currently being tested for the H5N1 virus at St George's Hospital.

From :

Jeremy McAnulty, director of communicable diseases at NSW Health, said the man was in his 30s and is being assessed by clinicians in an isolation ward at a Sydney hospital.

"We understand that the person was relatively well but had some flu-like symptoms potentially in the last few days - the history is a little bit vague," Dr McAnulty told a media conference.

"[He] was on the plane and then was difficult to rouse in waking up in the morning time as [the plane] was about to land in Sydney.

"For that reason and the reason of a history of flu-like illness and being in Vietnam, in a place particularly around chickens, we wanted to exclude the possibility of avian influenza."

He said further information since then suggested it was "very unlikely to be avian influenza".

Under Australian quarantine laws all airlines are required to report ill passengers to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service prior to landing.

But then there's this from a story :
"This person has a recent history of being in an area with chickens in Vietnam and of having a previous influenza-like illness," the spokeswoman said.
The avian influenza virus is expected to have the highest chance of mutating into a pandemic-ready form when a person already suffering from flu-virus infection comes into contact with the H5N1 virus (most likely from infected birds) and then the two viruses merge.

Bird Flu Diagnosis Unlikely, Says NSW Health

We Must Remain Vigilant On Bird Flu, Say Experts

Go To The 'Bird Flu Blog' For More