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3 Ex-Thailand Travelers Visited Bird Park
In Thailand

Recombinomics Commentary

October 26, 2005

When he started coughing on Monday, "two samples taken to look for the flu virus H5N1 were taken from his nose and his throat. The first was inconclusive, the second was positive," the statement said.

"There is therefore a suspicion of flu of avian origin, even though the symptoms are not very indicative," the office said, adding that test samples had been sent to mainland France for more thorough analysis.

The man, a French citizen, is in quarantine and receiving anti-viral treatment in the island's Bellepierre hospital in the main city of Saint Denis, a doctor at the hospital told AFP.

His condition was not worrying, suggesting that he may have a "benign form" of the virus," the doctor said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The man was believed to have been in contact with birds during a visit to a bird park in Thailand during his vacation, the doctor said.

The above description sounds remarkably like the situation at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta.  The birds there were asymtomatic and H5N1 positive.  Zoo visitors developed bird flu symptoms, but only a few had H5N1 antibodies.  Most were negative because samples were not collected at the proper time.  Moreover, when 115 patients with mild symptoms appeared at the hospital, they were sent away.

Thailand has claimed no human cases prior to last week, yet now the first three H5N1 positives are related (a father, son, and cousin).  The index case has died and the most recent case has just been admitted.  The time gap between disease onset strongly suggests human-to-human transmission.

This gap was also seen in the initial familial clusters in Indonesia.  Five of the eight official confirmed cases are in familial clusters.

Clearly the H5N1 transmission to humans has become more efficient and clearly the monitoring and testing of these patients is scandalously poor. 

They should be tested early and often to determine how widespread the H5N1 has spread in humans in Thailand and Indonesia.


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