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Pneumonia Cluster in Tacheng Xinjiang China
June 15, 2005
>> We have heard from a reliable source about a report of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Tashan Hospital, leading to the isolation of patient(s) and hospital healthcare workers for "viral infection." Tashan is located 600 km from the capital city of Xinjiang Province <<
ProMed has issued a correction indicating Tashan above should read Tacheng, the site of the earlier cull of domestic geese.
The above comments from an RFI report in ProMed are causes for concern. Although the patients are said to be suffering from bacterial pneumonia, the creation of an isolation ward for a cluster of pneumonia cases near the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in geese in Tacheng Xinjiang is curious. Fever clinics were also set up in the vicinity of Qinghai Lake after an unprecedented die-off of migratory birds infected with H5N1.
Abundant news had reported 121 human deaths linked to the Qinghai Lake outbreak. Although reports of human case have been denied, the 121 deaths and 79 additional infections were never specifically addressed. Those reports, if true, would have signaled phase 6 of the 2005 flu pandemic and further spread such as the pneumonia cluster would have been expected.
WHO has requested an onsite visit to Qinghai Lake to observe how that outbreak was handled. Clearly an expanded trip to include sites in Xinjiang as well as sites in India, where the bar headed geese winter, and an outbreak of meningitis has been described, is warranted.