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WHO Requests More Testing in Sichuan Cases in China
August 5, 2005
Roy Wadia, a WHO spokesman in Beijing, said China had been giving the organization updates from Sichuan province on the disease blamed on the Streptococcus suis bacteria. But more tests were needed to "eliminate other possible scenarios," he said.
"Doing tests of different sorts is something we would recommend ... in any outbreak situation, especially in one of this scale," Wadia said.
Some 208 people have become ill in dozens of villages and towns in Sichuan province since June, China's Health Ministry said Friday, mostly farmers who butchered or handled sick pigs. Fifteen remain in critical condition.
WHO's request for more testing on the Sichuan cases is welcome. It is clear that another agent is involved. The infections spread too quickly and the case fatality rate is too high for a sudden change in a bacteria that rarely infects humans.
The symptoms and sudden onset match those of pandemic influenza of 1918. Although China has stated that the patients were negative for H5N1, China has never reported a human H5N1 cases, raising questions about their willingness of ability to detected H5N1 in humans. H5N1 infections can lead to bacterial infections, so third party tests of samples would be useful.
Boxun reports have also raised the possibility that an Ebola recombinant is involved. Since both H5N1 and Ebola share a short region of identity, investigation of viral recombinants is warranted.