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WHO Experts Target Baguio Meningo-like Cases

Recombinomics Commentary
January 13, 2005

>>"It is an enormous situation," said Dr. Gerald Dziekan of the WHO Regional Outbreak Response Team. "That is the reason why we are closely coordinating with the local health officials so we could gather more information about the disease.",,,,,,, In a related development, the health department is discouraging any activity in Baguio that would bring about crowding of people that will enhance the possible upsurge of the sporadic disease, Dayrit said.  He explained that the health experts discovered that the upsurge in meningococcemia cases was triggered by festivities and gatherings of people during the Christmas and New Year holidays. <<

Gathering more information about the disease would be useful.  Testing of the meningococcemia-like (meningo-like) cases for H5N1 virus would be a good place to start.  The 1918 pandemic virus was frequently misdiagnosed as cholera, Dengue Fever, and typhoid.  With the modern lab and technology, simply testing for avian influenza may generate data that is quite illuminating.  There are many examples of H5N1 isolates from Asia that are neurotropic.  The neurological component in some patients in the 1918 pandemic lead to the isolation of WSN/33 from mouse brain in 1940.  In was named WSN/33 because it was neurotropic and was isolated to study the neurotropic effects seen in subsets of 1918 patients.  In many cases, isolates from animals have two names, one for the original virus based on where and when it was isolated, and another with an NT or MB appended to designate neurotropism or mouse brain origin.

Additional lab testing would be welcome, because the agent causing the meningo-like disease has generated a case fatality rate of 68% and, as noted above by the comments on spread of infections at large gatherings, it is easily passed from human to human.

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