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Mystery Swine Deaths in Eastern China
Recombinomics Commentary

September 4, 2006

Since June 2006, a pig disease characterized by rising body temperature, redness of the skin, and rapid breathing has occurred in portions of Anhui, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangsu, and other provinces.

News obtained from the Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian regions shows that this outbreak has caused large-scale pig herd deaths in parts of the region. In the area of Nanchang in Jiangxi alone, nearly one million pigs may have died

The above comments on a spreading fatal swine disease in China are alarming on several fronts.  There has been little coverage in the press and no diagnosis for the widespread outbreak.  The regions affected correspond to locations where the Fujian strain of H5N1 has been reported.  H5N1 in swine has also been reported in Fujian province (see below).

Swine can host swine, avian, and human influenza.  Swine are mixing vessels for influenza reassortment and recombination.  In Canada, the level of reassortment and recombination in swine has increased in recent years.

Earlier reports to ProMed in 2005 suggested unreported H5N1 bird flu in Fujian, Jiangxi, and Jiangsu was common.  The failure to report the large scale swine deaths in the same areas is cause for concern.

More details on the clinical symptoms and etiological agents would be useful.


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