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Wife of Fatal Thai Binh Bird Flu Patient Creates New Cluster

Recombinomics Commentary
March 9, 2005

>> Nguyen Tran Hien, director of the National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemology, confirmed that lab tests showed the elderly woman from northern Thai Binh province had contracted the H5N1 virus.

She remains in good health but has been isolated at her home, said Nguyen Van Thieu, director of the medical center of Kien Xuong District in Thai Binh.

Her 69-year-old husband had developed bird flu symptoms on Feb. 19 and died Feb. 23, he said. <<

Detection of H5N1 in the wife of a fatal confirmed H5N1 case generates another familial bird flu cluster in Thai Binh.  It is the third cluster from Thai Binh this year that has a reported H5N1 positive asymptomatic family member.

Like the asymptomatic H5N1 positive ducks, this development will significantly increase the difficulty in controlling the spread of H5N1.  Asymptomatic patients in all three of the Thai Binh clusters strongly suggest that H5N1 is widespread in Thai Binh.  This increases the chance for further human-to-human transmission as well as dual infections with human influenza H3N2 virus.

The virulent California strain, which has spread throughout the United States and Canada, has also been detected in Bangkok, Thailand.  Polymorphisms in H3N2 suggest the highly virulent H3N2 is linked to Zhegiang Province in China as well as Taiwan.

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