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Mystery Illness Kills 2 and Hospitalizes 23 in Gia Lai Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary

April 1, 2005

>> Vietnam has sent a team of experts to investigate an unidentified illness that has sickened dozens of people in the country's Central Highlands, health officials said Friday.

More than 100 people have complained of numb limbs, headaches and stomachaches in A Lao commune just outside Gia Lai province's capital, Pleiku, said Phung Xuan Quynh, deputy director of the provincial Health Department.

Some have also complained of breathing difficulties, Quynh said.

He said 23 villagers, all members of the Bana ethnic minority, were hospitalized in one district since Tuesday and remain in stable condition.

Two men from the commune, ages 37 and 48, died Tuesday, though family members said the men didn't complain of any symptoms, Quynh said. It was unclear whether they might have died from the same illness. <<

The hospitalization of a family of five in Haiphong on March 22 clearly signaled efficient transmission of H5N1.  As noted, this was without precedent and clearly signaled a change in H5N1's ability to efficiently transmit to humans.

A large outbreak of flu-like symptoms is under investigation in Quang Binh.  Although samples were collected over a week ago, results have not been forthcoming.

H5N1 is known to cause a variety of presentations in animals and humans, including neurological symptoms.  More information on the unidentified illness and any relationship to bird or human flu would be welcome.

Today President Bush of the United States signed an executive order authorizing quarantine of bird flu victims.

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