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3 French Tourist Are H5N1 Positive After Thai Bird Park Visit

Recombinomics Commentary

October 26, 2005

The three people visited a bird park in Thailand during their trip there and had close contacts with birds, said Helene Monard, a French Health Ministry spokeswoman.

La Reunion authorities said a 43-year-old man was admitted to hospital with a fever and strong headaches on Saturday, three days after spending a week in Thailand.

Nineteen others who also took the same trip were questioned about their health.

Among them, two had flu symptoms and Monard said their preliminary tests also were positive for H5N1.

"Although the symptoms are not very significant, there is thus a suspicion of flu of avian origin in the framework of a close contact with birds," the French Health Ministry said in a statement.

The above comments indicate all three symptomatic French tourists are H5N1 positive after visiting a bird park in Thailand.  Although all three have mild symptoms, they have all tested positive for H5N1.

These data clearly show that H5N1 is easily transmitted in Thailand.  However, early sample collection is required to detect the H5N1.  Casual transmission at the bird park is similar to the casual transmission at the Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta.  However, although visitors have mild symptoms, the sample collection creates false negatives on PCR tests.

The larger number of cases linked to the zoo in Indonesia coupled with 115 visitors with mild symptoms who were not tested suggests that many mild cases are missed.

Both Thailand and Indonesia are testing patients with known contacts with poultry, but even those patients are tested too long after exposure. 

Testing at primary care facilities or doctor's offices would generate many more positives, and determine the extent of H5N1 spread in human populations in Thailand and Indonesia.


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