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H5N1 Suspect Cases in Isolation in Iraq

Recombinomics Commentary

January 30, 2006

Ahmed said 12 people had been quarantined after they fell ill with pneumonia, but could possibly be infected with the fatal H5N1 strain of bird flu

Another suspected case is 54-year-old Mariam Qadar, who hails from the same region as the two fatalities and was taken to hospital in Sulaimaniyah by her family on Wednesday.

The above comments on suspect bird flu patients in Iraq are not a surprise.  The H5N1 outbreaks in people and poultry in Turkey was widespread and although reports of confirmed cases have halted, new cases are being admitted, placed in isolation, and treated with Tamiflu. False negatives are common and there is little reason to expect a sudden halt in human cases since new outbreaks in domestic poultry and wild birds are reported almost daily.

Pneumonia cases frequently produce false negatives because nasal swabs are collected to late, since the H5N1 has moved to the lungs, and early pneumonia patients have not developed detectable antibodies, so the testing is to late for PCR, too early for antibodies, but just right for false negatives (Goldilocks testing).

More information on the pneumonia cases, including ages, gender, and relationships to each other or the deceased, would be useful.


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