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H5N1 Confirmed in Swine in Indonesia

Recombinomics Commentary
May 13, 2005

>> BIRD flu has infected pigs in Indonesia, raising fears of a wider outbreak in the world's fourth-most populous country and South-East Asia's biggest economy, the Agriculture Ministry said today.

The ministry conducted tests after scientists reported that pigs in several farms on the main island of Java were infected.......

Specimens from Indonesian poultry workers had been sent for tests in Hong Kong as a precaution, officials said. <<

The confirmation of H5N1 in pigs in Indonesia is cause for concern.  H5N1 infections in poultry have been widespread in Indonesia since 2003.  The H5N1 in Indonesia is the Z genotype, which is the same genotype widely detected throughout Asia, including Vietnam and Thailand.

Recent positive H5N1 antibodies in poultry workers in India has raised concerns that H5N1 infections in humans may be more widespread than the reported fatal infections in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.  False negatives in PCR tests in Vietnam and on WSN/33 H1N1 positive swine samples in Korea have raised significant questions about mismatched primers used for influenza detection.  Screening of workers for H5N1 antibodies may be a more sensitive method for detecting prior infections.

However, media reports have indicated that Indonesia also has H7N1 circulation in poultry.  H7 isolates appear to be more efficient at infecting humans, raising the possibility of recombination in avian hosts to generate a recombinant with improved human-to-human transmissibility, and the increased virulence seen in H5N1 infections in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Confirmation of H5N1 in swine also increases the opportunity for additional recombination between H5N1 and human isolates such as H3N2.  The increased detection of bird flu worldwide is cause for concern.

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