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Likely H5N1 Bird Flu Case in Golubovka Kazakhstan

Recombinomics Commentary

July 31, 2005

A 20-year-old man showing bird flu symptoms has been hospitalized in Kazakhstan's Pavlodar region, where 600 domestic geese died between July 20 and July 30 as a result of an outbreak of the disease in the area.

The patient, a poultry farm worker from the village of Golubovka, was later diagnosed with double pneumonia and taken to the intensive care unit of Pavlodar's regional infectious diseases hospital in a critical condition, sources in the region's emergency medicine center told Interfax.

"All birds that might have contracted the disease from the infected geese have already been slaughtered and the poultry farm has been disinfected. Virus samples have been sent to Kazakhstan's National Veterinary Center in Astana to establish a final diagnosis," Emergency Situations Ministry sources told Interfax.

The above report strongly suggest the first H5N1 reported case in Kazakhstan.  Golubovka is just 120 miles southwest of Kupino, on of the locations in Novosibusrk positive for H5N1.  Both locations are just southwest of Chany Lake, where H5 has been isolated previously. These earlier isolates share regions of homology with the H5N1 isolates from Qinghai Lake, and all outbreaks have involved fatal infections of geese, which usually are resistant to H5N1..

A pneumonia case in Kazakhstan supports the rumors that the pneumonia cases in Tacheng, Xinjiang province are additional human H5N1 cases in China.  The isolation was said to be for patients and staff with bacterial pneumonia, which is not serious or contagious.

The likely human case in Kazakhstan also lends support for detailed reports of human cases in Qinghai Province near Qinghai Lake.  The sequences of the isolates contain mammalian polymorphism and were lethal in experimental chickens and mice, again pointing toward a significant risk for serious human cases.

Boxun reports on patients in Sichuan also raise the possibility of H5N1 infections.  Sichuan is adjacent to Qinghai province and media has been barred from talking to patients or residents, strongly suggesting the fatal cases involve more than bacterial infections.  The viral component could be Ebola, H5N1, or both.

The possibility of a raging pandemic in China appears to be more likely than ever and the failure of China to release samples and information should be addressed by more than just WHO, who have not been given permission to visit Tacheng, which is five miles from the Kazakhstan border.

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