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Respiratory Illness On Prince of Wales Island Alaska
Recombinomics Commentary 23:17
October 3, 2008

The State Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control are investigating an outbreak of a respiratory illness on Prince of Whales Island.

Health department officials are reporting 26 suspected or confirmed cases of the unknown illness in communities like Craig and Klawock.

Officials say seven people have been hospitalized.

Symptoms of the illness include a severe dry cough and a fever above 101 degrees.

The above comments describe an outbreak of respiratory disease on Prince of Wales Island.  The involvement of the CDC as well as the location of the island in southeastern Alaska under a major migratory bird route is cause for concern.

Earlier this year there were major outbreaks of H5N1 in South Korea, northern Japan, and southeastern Russia.  All outbreaks involved a reassorted Fujian strain of H5N1 (HA is clade 2.3.2 and the other seven genes were clade 2.3.4).  The dead whooper swan signaled spread to the north over the summer, including regions of Alaska.  Birds in Alaska are now migrating south, increasing concerns regarding respiratory disease in regions frequented by waterfowl, such as Prince of Wales Island.

The lack of a diagnosis remains a cause for concern.  More information on these patients and testing, including influenza A, would be useful.

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