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Human Bird Flu Denials for Qinghai China Require More Detail
May 26, 2005
>> The ministry has sent a expert team to Quanji Township of Gangca County soon after the bird flu outbreak in an effort to have on-the-spot checkup and supervise the prevention and control work for possible human infection.
As of May 25, neither human infection case or pneumonia case with unexplainable cause, or human flu case related to the contacts with the dead birds, has been reported, said the ministry.
The local health authorities have stepped up infectious disease control and prevention endeavor by closely monitoring and screening all pneumonia and flu-like cases among human beings, fowls and livestock. <<
The denials of "pneumonia and flu-like cases" are unacceptable. The media reports out of Qinghai Province were quite specific with regard to names and locations of 121 human deaths in Qinghai.this month.
Clearly the H5N1 infections are unusual. Initial reports denied that the 178 bar headed geese had died of bird flu. The follow-up report to OIE indicated that 519 birds had died from H5N1 infections. There were four additional species of birds and the bird outbreak was in Niannaisuoma village, Quanji town, Gangcha county, Qinqhai province, The above report was an initial report dated May 21, and a follow-up report is expected.
There were 18 locations reporting human fatalities. In most areas the case fatality rate exceeded 50%, thus far. Discharges were not reported, so the fatality rate could be considerably higher.
Detailed descriptions of the cases are urgently required. The media reports detailed 121 deaths and 79 infections. A cause of death on these cases is require. Simple denials that the cases were not "pneumonia or flu-like cases" are not acceptable. At a minimum, these cases are unexplained deaths. Detailed explanations on cause of death, age, gender, and location are required for the official denials to have any credibility.
The deaths of five species of birds in a geographically small region over a short time period is very unusual. Since bird flu involvement was specifically denied, the pathology of these infections would seem to be unusual.
Mainland China has not reported any human H5N1 infections or deaths. This current cluster of cases would dwarf any prior H5N1 human reports anywhere, and clearly signal the final phase 6 of a flu pandemic.
A fully transparent, independent investigation should have the highest priority.
Carefully couched denials are unacceptable.