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On 21 Feb 2007, the Nong Khai Surveillance and Rapid Response Team reported that a Laotian was admitted to the Nong Khai General Hospital with severe pneumonia. She was a suspect case of avian influenza H5N1 from Vientiane, however, her exposure history was unclear. This investigation was conducted in Nong Khai and Vientiane by a team composed of staff from both Thai and Lao PDR. The patient was residing within the red zone in a suburb of Vientiane, where an H5N1 outbreak among poultry had been confirmed. She became sick on 10 Feb 2007, developed pneumonia on day 7 and got antiviral drug on day 8 of illness. Despite extensive collection of clinical specimens, only endotracheal secretions were found positive for H5N1 virus. The patient was transferred from a hospital in Vientiane to a hospital in Nong Khai in a private vehicle without any referral documents, and no screening was done at the border checkpoints. The patient was the first confirmed human case of avian influenza H5N1 in Lao PDR. This cross-border investigation by a joint team enabled both sides to get a better understanding of the case, and the areas in surveillance and response that needed to be strengthened.
Keywords: avian influenza, H5N1, Thai-Laos co-operation.