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Soldier H5N1 Confirmed in South Korea

Recombinomics Commentary 16:01
April 21, 2008

An army corporal, identified by his surname Cho, has been suffering from a high fever since Sunday after participating in the culling of AI infected chickens and ducks in Sunchang, North Jeolla province.

Cho showed symptoms of AI infection in the primary and secondary tests but a definite conclusion will be made after the results of a serum and virus cultivation test are made known three weeks later, according to military authorities.

¡°Cho¡¯s temperature went up to 39.8 degrees Celsius [103.6 F] and he fell unconscious, so we suspected it was an avian influenza infection,¡± Capt. Wi Seong-hyeon of Cho¡¯s unit told the newspaper. ¡°We transported him to the army hospital and reported the case to the Sunchang health authorities.¡±

The ministry later denied that the soldier in question became unconscious.

The above comments indicate the soldier hospitalized in South Korea has tested H5N1 positive in two initial tests.  Media reports indicate his condition is improving after taking “antibiotics” which is likely Tamiflu.

If positive in additional tests, this would be the first confirmed human H5N1 case in South Korea.  Confirmation would likely accelerate Japan’s plans to implement a pre-pandemic vaccine program.  Although Japan has not reported H5N1 in the past two years, the outbreaks in neighboring South Korea strongly suggest that H5N1 has also recently been in Japan.  In the 2003/2004, both countries reported genetically similar H5N1 outbreaks.

More details on the two prelimiary tests would be useful.

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