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China Fails to Address the 121 H5N1 Fatalities in Qinghai China

Recombinomics Commentary
May 30, 2005

>> He also confirmed that the government had substantially under-reported an apparent outbreak of bird flu.

Originally, the government had said 178 geese were found dead in Qinghai Lake but over the weekend admitted 1,000 migratory wild birds in the area.

He said the disease had not spread to humans but rumours of deaths among humans persist.

A web-based Chinese-language news service called Boxun (Abundant News), which allows correspondents to freely post information on its site, reported on 25 May that 121 people in 18 villages in the sparsely-settled western province of Qinghai have died of bird flu, and more are ill. Some 1300 people, have been isolated, it reported, according to Dr Henry Niman, founder of Recombinomics, a biotech firm set up to develop vaccines against flu.

On the number of birds infected, Jia Youling said: "It is a rarity for such large-scale deaths to occur, whether in China or other parts of the world. We have never heard of such a thing."

State media said the migration paths of the wild birds involved made it unlikely the epidemic would spread to other parts of China and that no domesticated fowl had been infected. <<

The continued blanket denials of human H5N1 cases will not dispell reports of deaths of 6 tourists and 121 others in 18 communities in Gangcha County in Qinghai Province.  The reports on the deaths were quite specific, and included names of four of the tourists.

Government statements that there were no H5N1 human cases require test results on the patients with high fever and vomiting, especially those who died.  The deaths of six tourists in the same location and at the same time as the over 1000 bird deaths, which have been confirmed to be H5N1 positive, create a high level of suspicion, as does the 121 other deaths.

The cases need to addressed specifically, with data on age, gender, and cause of death.  Blanket denials are not sufficient. 

The WHO should be aggressively pursuing more details and not accepting simple denials.

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