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Flu Pandemic Monitoring in Vietnam

Recombinomics Commentary
December 31, 2004

>>Cities and provinces are detoxification and cleaning high-risk areas more frequently, and keeping closer surveillance on transport and sales of poultry, especially at the upcoming Lunar New Year Festival. Now, local health experts express concerns over the relapse of bird flu among fowls as well as humans this winter whose weather favors the development of viruses.<<

The reporting of the current H5N1 pandemic began in northern Vietnam just over 1 year ago with fatal infections in children.  Now there are human and poultry cases in southern Vietnam as well as new cases in the north.

This increase in H5N1 activity has increased concerns and it would be useful to see sequences on the new isolates.  There were small outbreaks over the summer, but the partial sequences from chicken isolates in Hau Giang, A/chicken/Viet Nam/HauGiang-178/2004(H5N1) and A/chicken/Viet Nam/HauGiang-617/2004(H5N1) were similar to each other and isolates from earlier in 2004.

The new outbreaks will likely contain new sequences from birds migrating into the area.  More distantly related H5N1 isolates were found in Novosibersk region of Russia and these new sequences would offer opportunities for new recombinations with the new sequences.

Although the H5N1 isolates in Vietnam produce case fatality rates in excess of 70%, human to human transmission has been limited.  It will be interesting to see what these new sequences bring to Vietnam and Thailand where H5N1 has become endemic.

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