Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula, sharing borders with three countries—Cambodia, China, and Laos—and three bodies of water—the Gulf of Thailand, the Gulf of Tonkin, and the South China Sea.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), vector-borne and communicable diseases represent almost 25 percent of the causes of mortality in Vietnam. New or re-emerging diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis, are increasing, as is drug resistance to common antibiotics.
In recent years, the identification of H5N1 avian influenza among humans and animals in Vietnam has brought heightened attention to the country. As of April 2008, WHO has reported 106 human cases of H5N1 in the country, which have resulted in 51 deaths. See WHO for updates.
NIAID has several ongoing projects in Vietnam, focused on HIV/AIDS, parasitic diseases, and influenza.
Human Antibodies Protect Mice from Avian Flu
In May 2007, an international team of scientists, including researchers at NIAID, announced a breakthrough in H5N1 influenza research. The team set out to determine if immune cells from people diagnosed with H5N1 could be used to treat the infection in others. Using immune cells from four H5N1-infected Vietnamese adults, the researchers treated mice that had been infected with the virus. Not only was the treatment successful in this group, it also proved effective in protecting non–infected mice from an otherwise lethal dose of the virus.