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Another H5N1 Bird Flu Death in Southern Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary

August 9, 2005

Tests by the Pasteur Institute in southern Ho Chi Minh City showed that the man from the Ba Tri district named Phan Van Lu was infected with the virus strain H5N1. He died at a provincial hospital on July 31, one day after being hospitalized.

The man slaughtered two dead chickens for meal on July 25. He was the first patient in Ben Tre to die of bird flu.

The above case from southern Vietnam extends the differences between cases in northern Vietnam, and those in southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia.

In 2005, the cases in the north are much milder.  The vast majority of H5N1 positive cases recover.  In contrast, virtually all other reported H5N1 confirmed cases are fatal.

The differences between northern and southern Vietnam became apparent this year and is almost certainly due to genetic changes in the H5N1.  Soon birds from Qinghai Lake in China and natural reserves in southern Siberia will begin to return to Vietnam, providing additional hosts for dual infections and recombination.

Recombining the sequences from Qinghai Lake with those circulating in northern and southern Vietnam can have serious consequences for both improving the human-to-human transmission of a highly lethal H5N1, as well as changing the target for a pandemic vaccine.

New pandemic vaccines should begin now, not when the situation in Vietnam, Europe, and the rest of Asia become more genetically unstable due to the spread of H5N1 by migratory birds.

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