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Influenza in Sri Lanka

Recombinomics Commentary
December 21, 2004

>>At least five people have died from flu in southern Sri Lanka but the virus is unrelated to SARS or bird flu, Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said on Tuesday. Tests showed that two victims had influenza type B while a third suffered from type A, the minister said, adding that experts had ruled out Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza. <<

Further information on these cases would be useful.  Influenza B cases are usually milder than influenza A and concurrent fatalities from both strains in a small population over a small time frame is unusual.  Earlier reports had mentioned 8 deaths and over a dozen additional suspect cases.  An outbreak on the island in 1998 produced only about 5 deaths and the current 5-8 deaths appear to have happened over a short time period at the beginning of flu season.

Influenza A can change by reassortment and recombination.  Moreover, recombination can be both homologous and non-homologous, so isolation and complete sequences on the associated agents would be helpful

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