Thoracic sarcoidosis is a common disease, with well-described and recognizable radiographic features. Nevertheless, most physicians are not familiar with the rare atypical often-confusing manifestations of thoracic sarcoid. Although these findings have been previously reviewed, but more recent advances in imaging and laboratory science, need to be incorporated. We present a review of literature and illustrate the review with unpublished data, intended to provide a more recent single comprehensive reference to assist with the diagnosis when atypical radiographic findings of thoracic sarcoidosis are encountered. Thoracic involvement accounts for most of morbidity and mortality associated with sarcoidosis. An accurate timely identification is required to minimize morbidity and mortality. It is essential to recognize atypical imaging findings and relate these to clinical manifestations and histology.
Atypical; cardiology; chest; radiology; sarcoidosis
The morbidity and mortality of acute respiratory distress syndrome remain to be high. Over the last 50 years, the clinical management of these patients has undergone vast changes. Significant improvement in the care of these patients involves the development of mechanical ventilation strategies, but the benefits of these strategies remain controversial. With a growing trend of extracorporeal support for critically ill patients, we provide a historical review of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) including its failures and successes as well as discussing extracorporeal devices now available or nearly accessible while examining current clinical indications and trends of ECMO in respiratory failure.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome; extracorporeal life support; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic interstitial pneumonia with a median survival of 3 years after diagnosis. Acute exacerbation of IPF (AE-IPF) is now identified as a life-threatening complication. It presents as worsening dyspnea with new ground glass opacities superimposed upon a radiographic usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) pattern. It is a diagnosis of exclusion. The prognosis of AE-IPF is poor and treatment strategies lack standardization. In order to rule out any reversible etiology for an acute decompensation of a previously stable IPF patient diagnostic modalities include computerized tomographic angiogram (CTA) coupled with high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) imaging of the chest, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and echocardiogram with bubble study. Avoiding risk factors, identifying underlying causes and supportive care are the mainstays of treatment. Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant medications have not shown to improve survival in AE-IPF. Most of the patients are managed in a critical care setting with mechanical ventilation. Lung transplantation is a promising option but most institutions are not equipped and not every patient is a candidate.
Acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; bronchoalveolar lavage; chest roentgenogram; computerized tomographic angiogram; high resolution computer tomography; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; usual interstitial pneumonia
A survey of pulmonologists attending a clinical meeting of the Saudi Thoracic Society found that only 55% of responders considered that inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) had a positive effect on quality of life in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Why the divergence of opinion when all the guidelines have concluded that ICS improve quality of life and produce significant bronchodilation? ICS unequivocally reduce the rate of exacerbations by a modest 20%, but this does not extend to serious exacerbations requiring hospitalization. Bronchodilatation with ICS is now documented to be restricted to some phenotypes of COPD. Withdrawal of ICS trials reported a modest decline of FEV1 (<5%) in half the studies and no decline in the other half. In spite of the guidelines statements, there is no concurrence on whether ICS improve the quality of life and there is no conclusive evidence that the combination of long-acting ß2 agonists (LABA) with ICS is superior to LABA alone in that regard. The explanation for these inconclusive results may be related to the fact that COPD consists of three different phenotypes with divergent responses to LABA and ICS. Therapy tailored to phenotype is the future for COPD.
COPD; inhaled corticosteroids; phenotyping
The CFTR gene is unique within the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) protein family, predominantly of transporters, by coding a chloride channel. The gating mechanism of ABC proteins has been characterized by the ATP Switch model in terms cycles of dimer formation and dissociation linked to ATP binding and hydrolysis, respectively. It would be of interest to assess the extent that Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR), a functional channel, fits the ATP Switch model for ABC transporters. Additional transporter mechanisms, namely those of Pgp and HlyB, are discussed for perspective. Literature search of databases selected key references in comparing and contrasting the gating mechanism. CFTR is a functional chloride channel facilitating transmembrane anion flow down electrochemical gradients. A dysfunctional CFTR protein results in cystic fibrosis, a fatal pleiotropic disease currently managed symptomatically. Understanding the gating mechanism will help target drug development aimed at alleviating and curing the disease.
ATP-binding cassette proteins; cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator; cystic fibrosis; gating mechanism
Most lung abscesses (80–90%) are now successfully treated with antibiotics; however, this conservative approach may occasionally fail. When medical treatment fails, pulmonary resection is usually advised. Alternatively, percutaneous transthoracic tube drainage or endoscopic drainage can be considered, though both remain controversial. In this communication, the medical literature focusing on percutaneous tube drainage efficacy, indications, techniques, complications, and mortality, as well as available data regarding endoscopic drainage are reviewed.
Percutaneous drainage; pyogenic lung abscess; endoscpoic drainage
Sleep medicine is a relatively new scientific specialty. Sleep is an important topic in Islamic literature, and the Quran and Hadith discuss types of sleep, the importance of sleep, and good sleep practices. Islam considers sleep as one of the signs of the greatness of Allνh (God) and encourages followers to explore this important sign. The Quran describes different types of sleep, and these correspond with sleep stages identified by modern science. The Quran discusses the beneficial effects of sleep and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a pattern of light and darkness. A mid-day nap is an important practice for Muslims, and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (pbuh) promoted naps as beneficial. In accordance with the practice and instructions of Muhammad (pbuh), Muslims have certain sleep habits and these sleep habits correspond to some of the sleep hygiene rules identified by modern science. Details during sleep include sleep position, like encouraging sleep on the right side and discouraging sleep in the prone position. Dream interpretation is an established science in the Islamic literature and Islamic scholars have made significant contributions to theories of dream interpretation. We suggest that sleep scientists examine religious literature in general and Islamic literature in particular, to understand the views, behaviors, and practices of ancient people about the sleep and sleep disorders. Such studies may help to answer some unresolved questions in sleep science or lead to new areas of inquiry.
Circadian rhythm; dreams; Islam; Quran; sleep
Chronic liver disease is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the worldwide adult population. Liver transplant is the gold standard therapy for end-stage liver disease and many patients are on the waiting list for a transplant. A variety of pulmonary disorders are encountered in cirrhotic patients. Pleura, lung parenchyma, and pulmonary vasculature may be affected in these patients. Hypoxemia is relatively common and can be asymptomatic. Hepatopulmonary syndrome should be investigated in hypoxic cirrhotic patients. Gas exchange abnormalities are common and are generally correlated with the severity of liver disease. Both obstructive and restrictive types of airway disease can be present. Abnormal diffusion capacity is the most frequently observed pulmonary function disorder in patients with cirrhosis. Hepatic hydrothorax is another finding which is usually seen in conjunction with, but occasionally without ascites. Portopulmonary hypertension is a complication of long standing liver dysfunction and when severe, is accepted as a containdication to liver transplant. Since respiratory disorders are common and have significant impact on postoperative outcome in patients undergoing liver transplant, a careful preoperative pulmonary assessment is important.
Hepatopulmonary syndrome; liver transplant; respiratory disorders
To review the pathogenesis of pulmonary vascular complications of liver disease, we discuss their clinical implications, and therapeutic considerations, with emphasis on potential reversibility of the hepatopulmonary syndrome after liver transplantation. In this review, we also discuss the role of imaging in pulmonary vascular complications associated with liver disease.
Hepatopulmonary syndrome; portopulmonary hypertension; pulmonary arteriovenous shunts; Yttrium-90 microsphere embolization hepatocellular carcinoma
Sleep medicine is a relatively new specialty in the medical community. The practice of sleep medicine in Saudi Arabia (KSA) began in the mid to late nineties. Since its inception, the specialty has grown, and the number of specialists has increased. Nevertheless, sleep medicine is still underdeveloped in the KSA, particularly in the areas of clinical service, education, training and research. Based on available data, it appears that sleep disorders are prevalent among Saudis, and the demand for sleep medicine service is expected to rise significantly in the near future. A number of obstacles have been defined that hinder the progress of the specialty, including a lack of trained technicians, specialists and funding. Awareness about sleep disorders and their serious consequences is low among health care workers, health care authorities, insurance companies and the general public. A major challenge for the future is penetrating the educational system at all levels to demonstrate the high prevalence and serious consequences of sleep disorders. To attain adequate numbers of staff and facilities, the education and training of health care professionals at the level of sleep medicine specialists and sleep technologists is another important challenge that faces the specialty. This review discusses the current position of sleep medicine as a specialty in the KSA and the expected challenges of the future. In addition, it will guide clinicians interested in setting up new sleep medicine services in the KSA or other developing countries through the potential obstacles that may face them in this endeavor.
Developing countries; Saudi Arabia; sleep; sleep centers; sleep disordered breathing; sleep laboratories; sleep medicine
Venous thromboembolism (VTE), comprising life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE) and its precursor deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), is commonly encountered problem. Although most patients survive DVT, they often develop serious and costly long-term complications. Both unfractionated heparin and low molecular weight heparins significantly reduce the incidence of VTE and its associated complications. Despite the evidence demonstrating significant benefit of VTE prophylaxis in acutely ill medical patients, several registries have shown significant underutilization. This underutilization indicates the need for educational and audit programs in order to increase the number of medical patients receiving appropriate prophylaxis. Many health advocacy groups and policy makers are paying more attention to VTE prophylaxis; the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission recently endorsed strict VTE risk assessment evaluation for each patient upon admission and regularly thereafter. In the article, all major studies addressing this issue in medical patients have been reviewed from the PubMed. The current status of VTE prophylaxis in hospitalized medical patients is addressed and some improvement strategies are discussed.
Deep vein thrombosis; heparin; low molecular weight heparin; pulmonary embolism; thromboprophylaxis
Advances in our understanding of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have led to improved care and incremental increases in survival. However, the pulmonary manifestations of HIV/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Respiratory complaints are not infrequent in patients who are HIV positive. The great majority of lung complications of HIV/AIDS are of infectious etiology but neoplasm, interstitial pneumonias, Kaposi sarcoma and lymphomas add significantly to patient morbidity and mortality. Imaging plays a vital role in the diagnosis and management of lung of complications associated with HIV. Accurate diagnosis is based on an understanding of the pathogenesis of the processes involved and their imaging findings. Imaging also plays an important role in selection of the most appropriate site for tissue sampling, staging of disease and follow-ups. We present images of lung manifestations of HIV/AIDS, describing the salient features and the differential diagnosis.
HIV/AIDS; imaging lung; mediastinal manifestations
Allergen-specific immunotherapy is aimed at modifying the natural history of allergy by inducing tolerance to the causative allergen. In its traditional, subcutaneous form, immunotherapy has complete evidence of efficacy in allergic asthma. However, subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) has a major flaw in side effects, and especially in possible anaphylactic reactions, and this prompted the search for safer ways of administration of allergen extracts. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has met such need while maintaining a clinical efficacy comparable to SCIT. In fact, the safety profile, as outlined by a systematic revision of the available literature, was substantially free from serious systemic reactions. A number of meta-analyses clearly showed that SLIT is effective in allergic rhinitis by significantly reducing the clinical symptoms and the use of anti-allergic drugs, while the efficacy in allergic asthma is still debated, with some meta-analyses showing clear effectiveness but other giving contrasting results. Besides the efficacy on symptoms, the preventive activity and the cost-effectiveness are important outcomes of SLIT in asthma. The needs to meet include more data on efficacy in house dust mite asthma, optimal techniques of administration and, as previously done with SCIT, introduction of adjuvants able to enhance the immunologic response and use of recombinant allergens.
Allergic asthma; efficacy; specific immunotherapy; sublingual immunotherapy; safety
Glucocorticoids are the mainstay of asthma therapy. They are primarily used to suppress airway inflammation, which is the central pathological change in asthmatic patients’ airways. This is achieved by many different mechanisms. The classical mechanism is by suppression of the genetic transcription of many inflammatory cytokines that are key in asthma pathophysiology (transrepression). On the other hand, the transcription of certain inhibitory cytokines is activated by glucocorticoids (transactivation), a mechanism that also mediates many of the adverse effects of glucocorticoids. The onset of action through these mechanisms is often delayed (4-24 hours). Other mechanisms mediated through non-genomic pathways are increasingly appreciated. These are delivered in part by binding of glucocorticoids to nonclassical membrane-bound glucocorticoid receptors or by potentiating the α1-adrenergic action on the bronchial arterial smooth muscles, in addition to other mechanisms. These effects are characterized by their rapid onset and short duration of action. Understanding these different mechanisms will help in the development of new and better drugs to treat this common disease and to develop new improved strategies in our approach to its management. Here, the genomic and non-genomic mechanisms of actions of glucocorticoids in asthma are briefly reviewed, with special emphasis on the current updates of the non-genomic mechanisms.
Asthma; genomic action; glucocorticoids; mechanism of action; non-genomic action
The aim of this review is to present a pictorial essay emphasizing the various patterns of calcification in pulmonary nodules (PN) to aid diagnosis and to discuss the differential diagnosis and the pathogenesis where it is known. The imaging evaluation of PN is based on clinical history, size, distribution and the gross appearance of the nodule as well as feasibility of obtaining a tissue diagnosis. Imaging is instrumental in the management of PN and one should strive not only to identify small malignant tumors with high survival rates but to spare patients with benign PN from undergoing unnecessary surgery. The review emphasizes how to achieve these goals. One of the most reliable imaging features of a benign lesion is a benign pattern of calcification and periodic follow-up with computed tomography showing no growth for 2 years. Calcification in PN is generally considered as a pointer toward a possible benign disease. However, as we show here, calcification in PN as a criterion to determine benign nature is fallacious and can be misleading. The differential considerations of a calcified lesion include calcified granuloma, hamartoma, carcinoid, osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma and lung metastases or a primary bronchogenic carcinoma among others. We describe and illustrate different patterns of calcification as seen in PN on imaging.
Benign pulmonary nodules; malignant pulmonary nodules; calcification
Portopulmoanry hypertension (POPH) is a form of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) associated with portal hypertension with or without underlying chronic liver disease. POPH is increasingly recognized and recent evidence suggests that it is one of the leading causes of PAH. The pathophysiology of POPH is poorly understood although the pathological changes in pulmonary vasculature in advanced POPH are similar to those seen in idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. The prognosis in patients with liver disease who also suffer from significant POPH is considered to be poor. Higher degree of pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) may preclude a patient from liver transplant as mortality in these patients is high. The treatment with vasodilator therapy has shown to improve both hemodynamics and clinical outcome in POPH in retrospective studies and in some case series. The aim of medical management is to bring PAP <35 mmHg that may make a patient with POPH and advanced liver disease eligible for liver transplant, which otherwise would have been denied because of high PAP.
Liver transplant; portopulmonary hypertension; pulmonary arterial hypertension; portal hypertension; vasodilator therapy
Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which includes obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as its most extreme variant, is characterized by intermittent episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway, leading to cessation of breathing while asleep. Cardiac arrhythmias are common problems in OSA patients, although the true prevalence and clinical relevance of cardiac arrhythmias remains to be determined. The presence and complexity of tachyarrhythmias and bradyarrhythmias may influence morbidity, mortality and quality of life for patients with OSA. Although the exact mechanisms underlying the link between OSA and cardiac arrhythmias are not well established, they could be some of the same proposed mechanisms relating OSA to different cardiovascular diseases, such as repetitive pharyngeal collapse during sleep, which leads to markedly reduced or absent airflow, followed by oxyhemoglobin desaturation, persistent inspiratory efforts against an occluded airway and termination by arousal from sleep. These mechanisms elicit a variety of autonomic, hemodynamic, humoral and neuroendocrine responses that evoke acute and chronic changes in cardiovascular function. However, despite substantial research effort, the goals of determining in advance which patients will respond most favorably to certain treatment options (such as continuous positive airway pressure, tracheostomy or cardioversion) and the developing alternative treatments remain largely elusive. Therefore, this literature review aims to summarize a broad array of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the relationship between OSA and cardiac arrhythmias and the extent of this association from an epidemiological perspective, thereby attempting to assess the effects of OSA treatment on the presence of cardiac arrhythmias.
Arrhythmia; OSA; sleep apnea
The analysis of biomarkers in exhaled breath constituents has recently become of great interest in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of many respiratory conditions. Of particular interest is the measurement of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) in breath. Its measurement is noninvasive, easy and reproducible. The technique has recently been standardized by both American Thoracic Society and European Respiratory Society. The availability of cheap, portable and reliable equipment has made the assay possible in clinics by general physicians and, in the near future, at home by patients. The concentration of exhaled nitric oxide is markedly elevated in bronchial asthma and is positively related to the degree of esinophilic inflammation. Its measurement can be used in the diagnosis of bronchial asthma and titration of dose of steroids as well as to identify steroid responsive patients in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In primary ciliary dyskinesia, nasal NO is diagnostically low and of considerable value in diagnosis. Among lung transplant recipients, FENO can be of great value in the early detection of infection, bronchioloitis obliterans syndrome and rejection. This review discusses the biology, factors affecting measurement, and clinical application of FENO in the diagnosis and management of respiratory diseases.
Diseases; exhaled nitric oxide; measurement; respiratory
In the 4 months since it was first recognized, the pandemic strain of a novel influenza A (H1N1) virus has spread to all continents and, after documentation of human-to-human transmission of the virus in at least three countries in two separate World Health Organization (WHO) regions, the pandemic alert was raised to level 6. The agent responsible for this pandemic, a swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus (S-OIV), is characterized by a unique combination of gene segments that has not previously been identified among human or swine influenza A viruses. As of 31th July 2009, 168 countries and overseas territories/communities have each reported at least one laboratory-confirmed case of pandemic H1N1 infection. There have been a total of 162,380 reported cases and 1154 associated deaths. Influenza epidemics usually take off in autumn, and it is important to prepare for an earlier start this season. Estimates from Europe indicate that 230 millions Europe inhabitants will have clinical signs and symptoms of S-OIV this autumn, and 7–35% of the clinical cases will have a fatal outcome, which means that there will be 160,000–750,000 H1N1-related deaths. A vaccine against H1N1 is expected to be the most effective tool for controlling influenza A (H1N1) infection in terms of reducing morbidity and mortality and limiting diffusion. However, there are several issues with regard to vaccine manufacture and approval, as well as production capacity, that remain unsettled. We searched the literature indexed in PubMed as well as the websites of major international health agencies to obtain the material presented in this update on the current S-OIV pandemic.
Epidemiology; H1N1; influenza
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause, trigger or exacerbate many pulmonary diseases. The physiological link between GERD and pulmonary disease has been extensively studied in chronic cough and asthma. A primary care physician often encounters patients with extra esophageal manifestations of GERD in the absence of heartburn. Patients may present with symptoms involving the pulmonary system; noncardiac chest pain; and ear, nose and throat disorders. Local irritation in the esophagus can cause symptoms that vary from indigestion, like chest discomfort and abdominal pain, to coughing and wheezing. If the gastric acid reaches the back of the throat, it may cause a bitter taste in the mouth and/or aspiration of the gastric acid into the lungs. The acid can cause throat irritation, postnasal drip and hoarseness, as well as recurrent cough, chest congestion and lung inflammation leading to asthma and/or bronchitis/ pneumonia. This clinical review examines the potential pathophysiological mechanisms of pulmonary manifestations of GERD. It also reviews relevant clinical information concerning GERD-related chronic cough and asthma. Finally, a potential management strategy for GERD in pulmonary patients is discussed.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease; lungs; pulmonary
There is a worldwide drive for the home management of chronic respiratory diseases. With the widespread use of home intravenous (IV) treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) pulmonary exacerbations (PExs), evidence pointing to an inferior outcome of care for home-treated patients in comparison to hospital-treated patients is a cause of concern. Currently, patients who self-administer IV antibiotics at home are provided with equipment and instructions on the use of antibiotics. Policies vary; but in most UK centers, these patients are then followed up by the multidisciplinary team only on days 1, 7 and 14 of the treatment course. We aimed to review the current published literature in search for evidence for the value and the shortfalls of self-administered IV treatment at home for acute PExs in CF patients in comparison to conventional hospital treatment. We searched the electronic database system Medline for published papers regarding studies comparing home- and hospital-based IV antibiotic treatment for both adult and pediatric CF patients. Sixteen studies were identified and grouped into those that showed a similar outcome between home and hospital treatment and those that showed an inferior outcome for home management. Most studies were retrospective or inadequately powered to provide clear answers. Ideally, outcome of care for home treatment should be at least equal to outcome for hospital treatment. Extensive efforts should be made to standardize therapies preserving the advantages of home management and addressing the perceived reasons for an inferior outcome. Until further studies provide definitive answers, treatment at home should be reserved for adequately selected patients and individualized depending on the unique settings of each CF center and specific patients' requirements. There is great need for a prospective randomized controlled trial comparing home and hospital treatments in order to clarify this matter.
Cystic fibrosis; home; treatment
Obesity is becoming a major medical concern in several parts of the world, with huge economic impacts on health- care systems, resulting mainly from increased cardiovascular risks. At the same time, obesity leads to a number of sleep-disordered breathing patterns like obstructive sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS), leading to increased morbidity and mortality with reduced quality of life. OHS is distinct from other sleep- related breathing disorders although overlap may exist. OHS patients may have obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea with hypercapnia and sleep hypoventilation, or an isolated sleep hypoventilation. Despite its major impact on health, this disorder is under-recognized and under-diagnosed. Available management options include aggressive weight reduction, oxygen therapy and using positive airway pressure techniques. In this review, we will go over the epidemiology, pathophysiology, presentation and diagnosis and management of OHS.
Obesity hypoventilation syndrome; positive pressure ventilation; sleep-disordered breathing
Respiratory tract infection during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is a common illness, and it is responsible for most of the hospital admissions. Influenza virus is the leading cause of upper respiratory tract infection during Hajj, and pneumonia can be serious. Taking into account the close contacts among the pilgrims, as well as the crowding, the potential for transmission of M. tuberculosis is expected to be high. These pilgrims can be a source for spreading infection on their return home. Although vaccination program for influenza is implemented, its efficacy is uncertain in this religious season. Future studies should concentrate on prevention and mitigation of these infections.
Hajj; respiratory tract infection; influenza; pilgrims
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is often diagnosed by the tuberculin skin test (TST). The latter has several limitations with regard to its sensitivity and specificity. It may be positive in people with prior bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination or exposure to nontuberculous mycobacteria. False negative TST results frequently occur in patients with impaired T-cell function. Therefore TST results have to be interpreted taking into consideration the pretest risk of TB infection or reactivation. Recently, interferon gamma release assays (IGRA) were introduced for the diagnosis of LTBI. These include the T-SPOT-TB and the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold tests.These tests measure interferon gamma released in response to T-cell stimulation by specific Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigens. These tests have been shown to be more specific than the TST as they are not affected by BCG vaccination. Their sensitivity was similar to that of the TST and in some studies they correlated better with the degree of exposure. In immune-compromised patients their sensitivity was better than that of the TST. IGRA tests were shown to have better predictive value for the development of active disease among individuals with LTBI. These tests are expensive. Their most cost-effective utilization is as confirmatory tests in patients with positive TST results, particularly in areas with high rates of BCG vaccination.
Tuberculosis; latent; tuberculin test
For some years now, we have been living with the fear of an impending pandemic of avian influenza (AI). Despite the recognition, in 1996, of the global threat posed by the highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus found in farmed geese in Guangdong Province, China, planning for the anticipated epidemic remains woefully inadequate; this is especially true in developing countries such as Saudi Arabia.
These deficiencies became obvious in 1997, with the outbreak of AI in the live animal markets in Hong Kong that led to the transmission of infection to 18 humans with close contact with diseased birds; there were six reported deaths. In 2003, with the reemergence of H5N1 (considered the most likely AI virus) in the Republic of Korea and its subsequent spread to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China. Many countries started aggressively making preparations to meet the threat. The pressure for real action from governments has increased. Most developed countries have requested increased funding for the search for a more effective vaccine, for stockpiling possibly helpful antiviral drugs, and for intensifying domestic and global surveillance. Most countries, however, continue to be inadequately prepared for such an epidemic, especially with regard to animal surveillance in the farm market and surveillance among migratory birds. Even now, most countries do not have the ability to detect disease among humans in the early stages of an outbreak nor do most hospitals comply with effective infection control measures that could curtail the spread of the virus in the early stages of an epidemic. In Saudi Arabia we are rapidly implementing many of these measures.
Avian influenza; H5N1; review; Saudi Arabia