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Bird Flu – Timeline


May-December 1997 

The first documented case of human infection from the H5N1 virus occurred in Hong Kong, with 18 people infected, of whom six died. The Hong Kong authorities destroyed the region’s entire poultry population of 1.5 million birds.


February 2003

A Hong Kong family, on their return from a trip to Southern China, became infected. The father and daughter died (though the daughter was not tested, so the cause of death is not officially known), while the son recovered.


December 2003 – March 2004

The H5N1 virus was successively identified in domestic poultry in eight countries – Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. In Vietnam, 23 cases of human infection were reported, with 16 deaths. In Thailand, 12 cases of human infection were reported, with eight deaths. Altogether, 120 million birds died or were destroyed.


July-October 2004

New outbreaks were reported in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Four more cases of human infection were reported in Vietnam, with all those infected dying. There were also five new cases in Thailand, with four deaths, including what was thought to be the first human-to-human infection.


December 2004 - August 2005

A succession of new outbreaks occurred in Vietnam, with 64 cases of human infection, 21 of them fatal.


In January 2005, the first known case of human infection occurred in Cambodia, with the patient dying in a Vietnamese hospital. Three more deaths occurred in Cambodia in March and April 2005.


In March 2005, the North Korean authorities announced the outbreak of bird flu (later confirmed not to be H5N1), and in July 2005, both Russia and Kazakhstan reported H5N1 outbreaks, followed by cases in Mongolia in August 2005. In all cases, no human infection was reported.


In July 2005, Indonesia reported its first case of human infection, with the patient dying.


September 2005 

A further three cases of human infection were reported in Indonesia, two of them fatal.

October 2005
Three more Indonesian cases were confirmed, one of them fatal, bringing to seven the total number of cases, including four deaths.

H5N1 was found in dead birds in north-western Turkey. It was also confirmed in Russia, Romania and Croatia.

Thailand announced its 13th bird flu death.

Quarantine officials found H5N1 in birds being brought into Britain and Taiwan. New outbreaks were confirmed in China.

November 2005
Two more Indonesian cases were confirmed early in the month, one of them fatal, bringing to nine the total number of cases, including five deaths. New outbreaks were confirmed in China and Vietnam. The 42nd death was confirmed in Vietnam.

A new case of human infection - the 21st - was reported in Thailand. Kuwait confirmed the H5N1 virus in a migrating flamingo.

In mid-November the Chinese government announced the country's first cases of human infection - three victims, two of who died.

December 2005
More deaths in Indonesia and Thailand, and more cases in China. Outbreaks among birds in the Ukraine. The year ended with the confirmation of China's third bird flu fatality. 

January 2006
Early in the new year, a major outbreak occurred across regions of Turkey, the first reported cases of human infection outside East Asia. More deaths were reported in China and in Indonesia, and at the end of the month the first case - and the first death - was reported in Iraq.

February 2006
More cases of human infection were reported in China and Indonesia, and another person died in Iraq. No fewer than 13 countries reported their first H5N1 outbreak - Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Iran, Austria, Germany, Egypt, India, France and Niger.

March 2006
Bird flu continued to spread in Europe, with H5N1 confirmed in Switzerland, Poland, Serbia and Albania. Minor panic broke out when cats in Austria and Germany contracted the disease. Outbreaks were also reported in Israel and Jordan. Indonesia and China reported more deaths, and there were also deaths in Azerbaijan and Egypt.

April 2006
Egypt reported more cases of human infection. The UK and Burkina Faso confirmed H5N1 in birds. There were more deaths in China and Indonesia.

May 2006
Djibouti reported its first case of human infection.

June 2006
In mid-June Reuters summarized the bird flu "state of play" - since late 2003 outbreaks had been confirmed in more than 48 countries, including more than 30 countries in 2006. The virus had killed 129 people, with 80 of them in Vietnam and Indonesia.

July 2006
Indonesia recorded its 42nd human death, equalling the number in Vietnam. Thailand recorded its first human death of the year. Spain reported its first case in a bird.

August-October 2006
Bird flu cases continued throughout Indonesia. Egypt and Thailand each recorded another death, and Iraq retrospectively confirmed one more case.

November-December 2006
South Korea culled thousands of birds to halt H5N1 outbreaks.

January-March 2007
New outbreaks were reported in poultry in Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Egypt, Nigeria, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Hungary, with the first human deaths reported in Laos and Nigeria.

April-June 2007
In early April more cases of human infection were reported in Egypt. In May, Ghana, Vietnam and Bangladesh reported outbreaks in poultry.