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Veterinary Staff in Vietnam Has H5N1 Bird Flu Symptoms

Recombinomics Commentary

November 21, 2005

Five people from Vietnam's northern Hai Phong city, including a veterinary staff, have recently been hospitalized after exhibiting bird flu symptoms, local media reported Monday.

The patients, including the staff of Hai Phong's Veterinary Bureau, are under treatment at the city-based Viet-Tiep Hospital and the Tropical Disease Institute in Hanoi capital, local newspaper Young People said, noting that their specimens are being tested.

The above geographic cluster in Hai Phong is cause for concern. Earlier in the year a family of five tested positive for H5N1 and several neighbors were also hospitalized.  The family still is the largest confirmed familial cluster.

Hospitalization of a veterinary staff is cause for additional concern.  They signal a more efficient transmission of H5N1 from animals to humans.  As new sequences migrate into southeast Asia, new outbreaks in birds and people are expected.

New sequences from Mongolia have a novel HA cleavage site and nearby provinces of Anhui and Hunan have reported human cases.  Similarly Thailand has recently reported human cases for the first time this year and new cases are being reported in Indonesia.

The migration of birds with H5N1 containing the PB2 polymorphism E627K are cause for concern, especially when recombining with indigenous H5n1 in Southeast Asia and China.

More detail on the number of veterinary staff and exposure histories would be useful


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