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The threat of avian influenza (AI) viruses to humans in Europe in 2005 prompted the Robert Koch Institute to establish a routine monitoring instrument condensing information on all human AI cases worldwide reported from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other sources into a line list for further analysis. The 235 confirmed AI cases captured from September 2006 to August 2010 had a case fatality rate of 56% (132/235), ranging from 28% (27/98) in Egypt to 87% (71/82) in Indonesia. In a multivariable analysis, odds of dying increased by 33% with each day that passed from symptom onset until hospitalisation (OR: 1.33, p=0.002). In relation to children of 0-9 years, odds of fatal outcome were more than six times higher in 10-19 year-olds and 20-29 year-olds (OR: 6.06, 95% CI: 1.89-19.48, p=0.002 and OR: 6.16, 95% CI: 2.05-18.53, p=0.001, respectively), and nearly five times higher in patients of 30 years and older (OR: 4.71, 95% CI: 1.56-14.27, p=0.006) irrespective of the country, which had notified WHO of the cases. The situation in Egypt was special in that case number and incidence in children were more than twice as high as in any other age group or country. With this study, we show that data from the public domain yield important epidemiological information on the global AI situation. This approach to establish a line list is time-consuming but a line list is a prerequisite to such evaluations. We thus would like to encourage the placing of a publicly accessible line list of anonymised human AI cases, e.g. directly by WHO. This might enhance our understanding of AI in humans and permit the rapid detection of changes in its epidemiology with implications for human health. .


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