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Consequences of Mild Human H5N1 Bird Flu Infections in China

Recombinomics Commentary

July 15, 2005

The latest boxun report describes widespread mild human H5N1 infections in China in 2004 and 2005.  Although these reports have not been independently confirmed by WHO or third part press releases. they have been confirmed by the sequences at GenBank and the change in the behavior of the H5N1 in northern Vietnam.

This year many of the H5N1 infections in northern Vietnam were much milder than last year.  The 2005 sequences from northern Vietnam contained new polymorphisms that matched isolates from Yunnan province in China.  These data indicated the 2004 isolates from Vietnam had recombined with the 2003 and 2004 isolates from Yunnan to create northern Vietnam recombinants.

The change in pattern was noted in northern Vietnam and 1000 serum samples were collected.  These samples were H5N1 positive by western blot and PCR assays.  However, WHO refused to believe the data and continued testing until they produced a negative result, and then declared the patients as being negative.  The WHO did not want to follow their own definitions of a pandemic which would place the current pandemic at level five or six and force pandemic preparedness procedures to be initiated.

Thus, WHO has refused to follow its own definitions.  It would not acknowledge the widespread human-to-human transmission, the guidance for a patient testing positive for H5N1 by two laboratory tests as being positive, and the current stage at 5 or 6 based on widespread and sustained transmission.

This failure to properly prepare is shortsighted, because the widespread distribution of H5N1 in asymptomatic humans, swine, and birds gives rise to more recombination, which may have created transmissible H5N1 that is very lethal in Indonesia and Qinghai.

The unstable situation will likely deteriorate in the upcoming weeks as more birds migrate back to the south bringing new H5N1 sequences that can recombine with H5N1 in asymptomatic people, pigs, and birds.

H5N1 has continued to expand its host range while WHO issued press releases supporting their program of denial.

Unfortunately, H5N1 does not read press releases, but they know how to play Truth or Consequences.

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