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Hospitalized H5N1 Zoo Workers Grow to Three

Recombinomics Commentary

September 20, 2005

In Indonesia, a 28-year-old guide and a 39-year-old vendor at a popular zoo in the capital were hospitalized Tuesday with symptoms of bird flu, said I Nyoman Kandun, director general of Communicable Disease Control.

The above description of the two people affiliated with the Ragunan Zoo who tested positive for H5N1 raise concerns about transmission.  Media reports also describe the hospitalization of a 50 year-old zoo trader with a cough and breathing difficulties.  Other reports have indicated that the two described above also have bird flu symptoms.

The symptoms in all three people indicates that the infections were recent and at about the same time, yet it is not clear why they would be more likely to be infected than those who have direct and daily contact with the animals and H5N1 positive birds at the zoo.  More details on potential exposures by these three people would be useful, as would interactions between these three people.

The evidence for transmission of H5N1 via casual contact is growing.  There now appear to be three contact clusters in the same general region in Tangerang.  Clusters of clusters are cause for concern, especially when they happen sequentially in time.

Sequence data will help determine how the birds at the zoo were infected and may also help determine linkages to the people affiliated with the zoo.  The increasing numbers of the people raise questions about exposure of zoo attendees in the past few weeks.

More detail on the zoo workers would be useful.


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