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Mysterious Illness Spreads In Sichuan China

Recombinomics Commentary

July 25, 2005

Preliminary probe shows the unknown disease in Sichuan was caused by a kind of a swine virus known as streptococosis II.

 The province has reported 80 cases of the infection as of Monday, including 67 confirmed cases and 13 suspected cases. Nineteen people have been reported dead and 17 people are in critical condition. Four have been discharged from hospital, according to the Ministry of Health.

The patients came from 75 villages in 40 townships in cities and counties including Ziyang City, Jianyang City, Lezhi County and Zizhong County in Neijiang City.

Judging from the symptoms and tests of the dead pigs, experts reached the preliminary conclusion that the disease was caused by swine streptococosis II.

The above comments are confusing at best.  The bacterium is called a virus and the rapid spread signals a virus.  The high mortality (19 of the 23 outcomes have been death) decreases the likelihood of bacterial infections, which are rare in humans.

It is also unclear what a "confirmed" case is.  There is no indication that the bacteria have been isolated from patients, so a confirmed case seems to be a farmer with symptoms and sick or dying pigs.  Although the pigs may have a bacterial infection, that doesn't mean that the pig and/or person is not infected with a virus.

The mechanism for rapid spread of bacteria is also difficult to imagine since the number of affected villages is so large and spread over a large area.

Although boxun reports have focused on Ebola, the timing and location of this outbreak continue to raise suspicions about H5N1 bird flu migrating to or from Qinghai Lake

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