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Fatal Infections in Sichuan China Due to Ebola-SZ77?

Recombinomics Commentary

July 24, 2005

The virus currently circulating in ZiYang SiCuhan is thought to be a strain of Ebola. However, both authorities and the press have been prohibited from alluding it to be so. Even the use of the word "Ebola" has been banned.

Although minimal information has been released, many Chinese believe that the virus circulating in SiChuan is the EB-SZ77 strain of Ebola that first emerged in ShenZhen , between 19 - 27 May this year. However, what is puzzling is that this strain has evolved very rapidly - it can now be transmitted by 3rd party, unlike the other strains which are only blood borne.

The above comments are form a translation of a boxun report indicating that the deaths in Ziyang, southeast of Chengdu in Sichuan province is due to a rapidly evolving strain of Ebola, EB-SZ77.  Earlier reports by boxun had described a number of Ebola strains in China.  In the earlier report, all isolates were said to be transmitted via blood.  However, EB-SZ77 was capable of transmission to birds.

If true, all of this would be cause for concern, H5N1 has been reported in pigs in Indonesia, so infection of swine in Suchuan would be possible in view of its proximity to Qinghai Lake and the recent bird flu outbreak among migratory water fowl.. Moreover, the unprecedented die-off of birds at Qingahi Lake due to H5N1 infections raises concerns about a catastrohic spread of H5N1,

 An 18 nucleotide region of H5 is found in the Ebola env gene, signaling the exchange of genetic information between H5N1 and Ebola (the sequence is specific for H5N1 isolates).  Variations in sequences between Ebola or Marburg strains has been noted and Ebola like other viruses can evolve rapidly via recombination.

Isolation and sequencing of the virus causing the deaths in Sichuan Province would be useful.

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