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H5N1 Bird Flu Outbreak in Changji Xinjiang

Recombinomics Commentary
June 21, 2005

>>  China today reported a new outbreak of deadly bird flu which has infected 128 geese and ducks in the northwestern Xinjiang region, killing 63 of them, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told Agence France-Presse.

The outbreak -- the third reported by the Chinese government in the past two months -- occurred in Changji city near Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, the FAO said citing Chinese government information. <<

The above comments described a third report from China on dead geese that are H5N1 positive.  The latest outbreak is also in Xinjiang Province in northwestern China.  It is about 30 miles northwest of the capital; city of Urumqi, which lies between the early outbreak in water fowl, including migrating bar headed geese, and Tacheng, located near the border with Kasakhstan and about 100 miles south of China's border with Russia.

The latest outbreak is similar to the outbreak near Tacheng, with about half of the infected geese reported as dead.  H5N1 usually does not kill geese, so the finding of the three outbreaks close in time and location suggests they are due to the same version of H5N1 and are being transported by migrating birds. 

Although the sequence of the H5N1 isolated in Qinghai has not been made public, it is said to be similar to H5N1 isolated in southeast China.  This season the H5N1 in northern Vietnam has changed somewhat from last season, and this change includes an HA cleavage site that matches isolates from Hong Kong, Yunan, and Guangdong in southeast China.

The latest report, like the two preceding reports, has noted the lack of human infections.  However, third party reports have described human infections and fatalities in the Qinghai Lake area as well as a pneumonia isolation ward in Tacheng.

WHO has requested on site visits to Qinghai and Xinjiang.  The request to vist Tacheng in Xinjuiang has been denied, fueling speculation that the patients and health care workers in the isolation unit are infected with H5N1.

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