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H5N1 Cluster in Pakistan Grows?

Recombinomics Commentary
December 13, 2007

Three suspected cases of human-to-human transmission of bird flu virus have been detected in North West Frontier Province (NWFP), sources told The Post on Monday.

Of these three cases, two people died and the Ministry of Health has collected samples to determine the cause of their deaths.

Sources said about three weeks ago the Ministry of Health obtained blood samples of people suspected of being infected with bird flu virus, but their results have yet to be announced.

Ministry officials said on October 21, 2007, bird flu virus H5-N1 was confirmed at Ijaz Shah Poultry Farm in Abbotabad and a veterinarian, Dr Ishtiaq Durrani, from the NWFP Livestock Department was tasked with culling as many as 3,000 hens in Abbotabad from October 21 to 23.

The above report provides some additional detail on the circumstances around the two fatal H5N1 cases.  However, it is unclear if there is a third patient and if the third patient is related to the brothers won died.

In any event, the two reports indicate there is an H5N1 cluster, which is common for the index cases for a country.  Almost all initial reports of H5N1 in humans are linked to clusters.

These cases represent the first Qinghai fatalities of the season.  Last season reported fatalities were limited to Egypt and Nigeria.  However, the large number of outbreaks early in the season suggests more cases will be reported this season.

More information on the patients, as well as sequence data from bird and human H5N1 isolates from Pakistan would be useful.

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