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Suspect H5N1 Bird Flu Patient in Pichit Thailand Dies

Recombinomics Commentary

July 25, 2006

A 17-year-old youth from the northern province of Phichit who died from acute lung infection and flu-like symptoms on Monday had probably been infected with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, a senior Public Health official revealed yesterday. ''There is a high possibility that this man died from avian influenza,'' the official said, adding that doctors had failed to detect the virus because the tissue samples from the patient had deteriorated.

The official said the youth, from Thap Khlo district, was admitted to the hospital last Tuesday after developing a high fever. His condition deteriorated rapidly.

The teenager had buried about 20 fowls that had died of unknown causes in his village shortly before he fell ill.

The above description strongly suggests that H5N1 human fatalities will soon be confirmed in Thailand.  HPAI H5 was reported to the OIE on July 24, 2006, leaving little doubt that H5N1 bird flu was causing fatalities in Thai poultry.

Several patients linked to dead or dying birds are being tested,  However, the death of a 17 year with bird flu symptoms which developed after handling dead poultry is a likely bird flu case.

Recent sequences from Laos and Malaysia indicated the Fujian strain of H5N1 in China had moved into southeast Asia.  All reported human cases in China  in 2005 and 2006 have been the Fujian strain, which is clade 2 and distinct from the earlier clade 1 isolates in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia cases in 2004 and 2005.

The large number of reported cases in Thailand suggest there are unreported cases in neighboring Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.  The reported and unreported human cases are cause for concern.

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