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China Confirms H5N1 Antibody in Brother in Hunan

Recombinomics Commentary

November 8, 2005

One blood test on the boy was "suspected as positive" for H5N1 bird flu

The above comment on a test on the nine year old brother of the Hunan fatality linked to H5N1 bird flu suggest that China is close to admitting their first case of H5N1 in humans.  If a second blood test shows a titer four fold higher than the initial test, the boy will have met the WHO criteria for a confirmed H5N1 case.

The suspicion level for both the boy and his deceased 12 year old sister is high.  Both had eaten a chicken who had died just before an H5N1 outbreak was declared by China in Hunan.  Both siblings had bird flu symptoms as did a middle school teacher in the same village.  The teacher had prepared a bird for eating prior to the infection and there was an open cut on his hand.

Since both the teacher and younger brother survived, follow-up blood tests should show antibody to H5 and confirm that both were infected.  If confirmed, the cases would be the first human case reported in China, the first familial cluster, and the first geographical cluster as well as the first likely fatality.

Since the outbreak was part of a string of four outbreaks in eastern China, it is likely that the outbreaks were caused by H5N1 wild bird flu.  Sequence data on virus from the four outbreaks would establish the relationship between the H5N1 in the four outbreaks (Inner Mongolia, Anhui, Hunan, Lianing) and H5N1 wild bird flu in Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Qinghai China.


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