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H5N1 Bird Flu Linked to 20 Meningitis Cases in Tomsk Russia?

Recombinomics Commentary

August 11, 2005

Due to the state today in Tomskaya province it is revealed 4 more by sick serous meningitis. About this reports the press- service OF MCHS [EMERGENCY AND DISASTER RELIEF MINISTRY] with the reference to leader Tsentr's information medicines of catastrophes to Sergey Budyan. Thus, a quantity of patients with the diagnosis serous meningitis reached 20 people.

I will resemble, the outbreak of disease in Tomskaya province was registered in Sunday. As the reason for disease served bathing in the not intended for this non-flow reservoir of village Rybalovo of Tomsk region.

The machine translation of the report of 20 meningitis cases in and around the village of Rybalovo in the Tomsk region is cause for concern.  The village is just northwest of Chany Lake in Novosibirsk where there have been at least 14 outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu (see map).

The sequence of H5N1 in the Novosibirsk is said to be similar to H5N1 in Vietnam, but somewhat different.  That description matches the sequences fro H5N1 isolated at Qinghai Lake.  Since many birds that nest or rest at Qinghai Lake go on to summer at Chany Lake. It is very likely that the sequences of H5N1 from both places is similar.

The isolates at Qinghai Lake were unusual because the PB2 gene product had the E627K polymorphism that is usually only found in mammalian isolates.  It was present in all of the H5N1 isolates from Qinghai  Lake.  E627K is associated with neurotropism in mice and tigers.  Thus, infections of humans with H5N1 might be expected to create a neurological disease such as meningitis.

The first dead birds identified at Qinghai Lake were bar headed geese, which generally migrate to Qinghai Lake from northern India. At the time of their migration, India has a large meningitis outbreak.  There were no reports of any H5N1 testing, and the above report does not mention H5N1 testing for the 20 patients the Tomsk region.

Meningitis can also be due to secondary infections after the flu, so testing of the meningitis patients ffor influenza A is warranted.


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