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Testing Meningo-like Cases in Misamis Oriental for Bird Flu

Recombinomics Commentary
January 12, 2005

>> MISAMIS Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno is now ordering an investigation on reports that some constituents in the western municipalities of Misamis Oriental were found to be experiencing symptoms of the dreaded meningococcemia.
This came as the regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) 10 information officer Jun Galban said they have yet to discover any patient who is positively identified to be suffering with this deadly virus.
Moreno announced over dxIF Bombo Radyo Tuesday morning that he is looking into these reports of people allegedly showing meningococcemia symptoms.
He said this as he calmed fears that they have yet to find a person who has been positively identified to be carrying such virus.<<

Meningococcemia is caused by a bacterium, Neisseria Meningitidis.  However, bird flu is caused by a virus and the etiology of the meningococcemia-like (meningo-like) illness is far from clear.  Since the number of meningo-like cases is markedly higher than meningo-confirmed cases, they should be tested for avian influenza.

Virulent forms of H5N1 are neurotropic in mice, and cases from the 1918 flu pandemic had neurological presentations as well as cyanosis, much like the meningo-like cases.  H5N1 has a very high case fatality rate, which was over 70% last season in Vietnam and Thailand.  This season none of the avian flu cases in Vietnam have recovered.

Earlier this week WHO had warned Sagada residents to avoid catching, keeping, or eating migratory birds.  This warning should apply to the entire Baguio City area as well as other locations in the Philippines, because avian influenza can be spread in markets or via droppings of infected migratory birds.

Western municipalities of Misamis Oriental would appear to be on such flight paths, so patients with meningo-like symptoms should be tested for avian influenza.  Such testing should apply to all cases in The Philippines with meningo-like or avian influenza symptoms.

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