Lab confirms H1N1

International laboratories have confirmed six H1N1 infections in Mali’s capital, Bamako, according to the Ministry of Health.



“Results from our reference laboratory have been confirmed by CDC [Center for Disease Control] in Atlanta and CVD [Mali’s Center for Vaccine Development, collaboration with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health],” said Health Minister Oumar Ibrahima Touré on 11 January. Prior to this announcement, the country had reported one confirmed H1N1 case.



Following the minister’s declaration, national federation of health worker member Amadou Sidibé questioned the government’s preparedness to contain the infection. “Does our government have the means to confront a disease that is ravaging even wealthy countries?” Sidibé told IRIN.



The situation is under control, the Health Ministry’s director of health services, Toumani Sidibé, told IRIN. “The national health office with the support of World Health Organization has taken all the necessary steps to treat confirmed cases, notably with the treatment Tamiflu. The infected are in good health and appropriate steps were taken to limit to spread to those close to them.”



He added that the Health Ministry’s national health office and the Center for Vaccine Development have “sufficient” stocks of flu medication. “Through our health observatory sites, we will be able to detect any cases in a timely manner,” Sidibé told IRIN.



The H1N1 virus has led to at least 6880 deaths in North America as of 3 January versus 131 deaths in Africa; 1000 in both South-east Asia and Western Pacific and; some 2,500 in Europe, according to World Health Organization (WHO).



The government and its partners need to act quickly to treat confirmed cases and raise awareness about H1N1 to limit its spread, Mali’s Red Crescent Society’s Sékou Tamboura told IRIN.



There have been no reported H1N1 deaths in West Africa. Countries in the region reporting the most infections are Cape Verde with 62 and Ghana with 54.



Worldwide, these annual epidemics result in about three to five million cases of severe illness, and up to 500, 000 deaths, according to WHO.



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