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H5N1 Bird Flu Fatality in Shanghai Confirmed

Recombinomics Commentary
March 24, 2006

The Chinese Ministry of Health on Friday confirmed a 29-year-old woman in Shanghai in east China has died from bird flu.

The victim, identified only by her surname Li, was a migrant worker in Shanghai. She showed symptoms of fever and pneumonia on March 13 and died on March 21.

The Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that Li tested positive for H5N1. The municipal health department announced on Thursday that it was a suspected human case of bird flu.

The above comments raise addition concerns about the evolution of H5N1 in China.  The latest case is the 10th confirmed fatality in China and the 16th confirmed H5N1 human infection.  However, none of the H5N1 sequences from human cases has been made public.  A Wall Street Journal report indicates that 94 sequences from China are in the closed WHO database.  Similarly, Hong Kong has placed the human H5N1 sequences from Indonesia in the closed database.

The activity is no longer acceptable.  Recent sequences from Henan province in China have "identifiable recombination" yet WHO and consultant actively ignore recombination in H5N1.  Instead their analysis focuses on "random mutations".  However recent sequence data from swine isolates in Canada raises serious questions about the involvement of such "random mutations" in rapid evolution of influenza.  The swine data strongly indicates that concept of genetic drift by random mutations is fatally flawed.  Recent sequences have destroyed the basic tenets of influenza genetics, yet the tenets are be used to select pandemic vaccine candidates based on sequestered sequences.

These sequences should be released immediately so they can be properly analyzed.


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