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H5N1 Pandemic Potential - Tight 8 Member Cluster in Kien Thuy

Recombinomics Commentary
March 29, 2005

>> Ngo Viet Hung, head of the infectious disease ward at Viet Tiep hospital, said in the latest case, the family's symptoms, which included high fever, coughing and a mild lung infection, have largely disappeared.

Family members are currently being kept in an isolation ward.

Hung said the family's neighbour, a 32-year-old woman from Haiphong, was admitted on March 25 with high fever and coughing. Test results on her have not been completed, he said. <<

The neighbor described above is probably Vu Thi Hoan, who was listed as being 41 years old in an earlier report.  She is a neighbor who was admitted to Viet Tiep hospital on March 25. 

The cluster for the commune in the Kien Thuy district of Haiphong province has now grown to eight.  All eight were admitted to Viet Tiep within a few days of each other.

In addition to the family of five and their neighbor, two other commune members, a 41 year-old male and a child were admitted into Viet Tiep hospital with breathing difficulties last week.

The admission of five family members on the same day signals efficient transmission of bird flu.  There have been many reports of families eating sick chickens, but not reports of 5 family members being hospitalized on the same day.  Now there are three more neighbors, also admitted with bird flu symptoms.  The close clustering in time and space of all 8 members in possibly 4 different households, strongly suggests efficient transmission of H5N1 spreading through the neighborhood.

Such spread among birds has been seen many times. However, a parallel spread among neighbors signals a more efficient transmission to humans, which is a major step in the evolution of a pandemic.

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