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Dearth of Data from Vietnam is Deafening

Recombinomics Commentary

April 10, 2005

The dearth of data from Vietnam has been deafening.  There are three clusters of cases where samples have been sent to the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases in Hanoi and the results from these samples have not been reported.  Most, if not all, are expected to be H5N1 positive for the cases in the central highlands province of Quang Binh, and the northern provinces of Haiphong and Quang Ninh, which are adjacent to each other in the northeast corner of Vietnam.  Quang Ninh borders mainland China.

The suspect cases in Quang Binh were initially identified in media reports.  There had been a report of a familial cluster.  The index case, a 13 year-old girl, had died and her 5 year-old brother had symptoms.  His samples were sent to Hanoi and tested positive for H5N1.  Media reports indicated that 195 others in the commune had flu-like symptoms.  More recent reports suggested that they were infected with H5N1 from meals using dead poultry.  An investigative team found 37 people who still had symptoms and samples were collected from patients, poultry, and environmental swipes.  The samples were sent to Hanoi on March 25.  Results have not been reported.

On that same day, at least one neighbor of a family of five was hospitalized in Haiphong, in northern Vietnam.  The family of five had been hospitalized three days earlier and subsequently tested positive for H5N1.  Media reports indicate that 1 or 2 adults and one child were admitted on or about Match 25.  Samples were collected and sent to Hanoi.  Results have not been reported.

A week later, on Apri1 in Quang Ninh, a province adjacent to Haiphong, a 34 year-old physician developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).  That day President Bush signed an executive order making bird flu a quarantinable disease in the United States.  The physician died 2 days later and samples were collected for SARS and H5N1 testing.  Monday it was disclosed that at the same hospital, Vietnam Sweden, there were two H5N1 confirmed and one H5N1 suspect cases on another ward. Samples were sent to Hanoi.  Results were to be made public by Friday, April 5.  Results have not been reported.

Each of the above clusters would create a record on H5N1 clusters in Vietnam and would strongly point toward efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans.

Vietnam's failure to report the bird flu results speaks loud and clear.  The dearth of data is deafening.

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