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WHO on Human Transmisison of Bird Flu in Cambodia

Recombinomics Commentary
February 9, 2005

>> The woman's 14-year-old brother died after experiencing
respiratory symptoms and is suspected to have been infected
with avian influenza. However, no diagnostic samples were
collected before his cremation…….

In order to clarify how the woman became infected, additional
laboratory and epidemiological investigations are ongoing in
collaboration with the Pasteur Institute, Phnom Penh, the
Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO). At this stage, there is no evidence of
human-to-human transmission.<<

The strongest data for mode of transmission is the time differential between onset dates.  Media reports have remained unclear on the onset date for either patient.  However, the sister died Jan 30 and most media reports indicate the brother died 1 -2 weeks earlier.  This bimodal distribution of disease onset dates or date of death is similar to the other 8 clusters of  avian influenza in Vietnam and Thailand, which leave little doubt that all or most were examples of human to human transmission of bird flu. 

Since the time differential is the most consistent parameter in the 8 prior clusters, it is difficult to imagine how WHO can comment on human to human transmission in a Feb 9, 2005 press release that fails to give disease onset dates for either patient or date of death for the brother.  These dates should be easy to determine and the failure to report this information at this late date is remarkable.

The lack of a warning to family members of suspect cases that unprotected care of avian influenza patients frequently has deadly consequences is scandalous.

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