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Is Bird Flu Being Covered-Up in India?

Recombinomics Commentary

August 21, 2005

Dr. Khan managed to procure a few vials of Indian vaccines labeled as "Newcastle Disease Vaccine Inactivated I.P. Vet." and "Variant Ranikhet Disease Experimental Vaccine". He then conducted scientific trials with these vaccines. In one trial he administered the vaccine to 25 chickens (the trial group). 25 other chickens (the control group) were not vaccinated. Before vaccination, all 50 chickens tested negative for Avian Influenza antibodies. When the chickens were tested again 34 days after vaccination, the entire trial group was positive for avian flu antibodies, while the entire control group was still negative. The trial group also showed increased level of Newcastle (Ranikhet) Disease antibodies after vaccination. These trials were repeated and results were similar. This shows conclusively that the vaccines were in fact a combined vaccine against Avian Influenza and Newcastle (Ranikhet) Disease.

The above comments are cause for concern.  The data indicate that Newcastle Disease vaccine is being used to vaccinate for Newcastle Disease as well as avian influenza.  Avian influenza in India has been of interest of late because last spring bar headed geese, infected with H5N1, were discovered at Qinghai Lake in China.  Bar headed geese from Qinghai Lake winter in northern India,   The dead birds were found when the geese were just arriving from India, raising concerns that H5N1 might be transmitting unreported in India. India has never reported a case of H5N1 in birds or people. The migrations in the spring and now have been assoiaited with human cases of meningitis or encephalitis (see map).  The H5N1 in the bar headed geese have changes associated with neurotropism,.

Attention is once again focused on India, because the bar headed geese are now migrating back to India for the winter and are probably transporting and transmitting wild bird flu.  The vaccine described above contained H9N2 bird flu, which frequently reassorts and recombines with H5N1.  Thus, the vaccine suggests that India has both H9N2 and H5N1 co-circulating.

This danger is compounded by the possibility that a similar vaccine with H5N1 is also being used in India.  Newcastle Disease was the infection of choice for hiding H5N1 infections.  In 2003 and early 2004 Indonesia insisted that its H5N1 infections were Newcastle Disease.  Similarly, China reported an unusually high frequency of Newcastle Disease infections before they reported H5N1.  Since the symptoms of Newcastle Disease and avian influenza are similar, Newcastle Disease is a safer diagnosis because it has not been shown to transmit to humans.

However, vaccination with H5 would make testing for H5N1 more difficult.  Immunized birds would have H5 antibodies, which could cause problems in a HI assay, which measures H5 antibodies. H5N1 antibodies have been detected in serum collected in 2002 from poultry workers in India, lending additional support to the suspicion that H5N1 has been and is circulating in India.

The finding of H9N2 in Newcastle Disease vaccines warrants a full investigation into unreported H9N2 and H5N1 in India.


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