Wednesday, May 25, 2005

H5N1 in Qinghai China Imported from India?

Recombinomics: H5N1 in Qinghai China Imported from India?: "H5N1 in Qinghai China Imported from India?"

Henry Niman's blog on avian influenza is worth a daily read, although he tends towards the paranoic side. Although the blog is full of very good scientific information, I find that he tends to find avian influenza in every nook and cranny, with sometimes only the sketchiest of evidence. For example, India's reported serological evidence of H5N1 exposure in three poultry workers (here and here) , combined with reports of meningitis, immediately leads these Dr. Niman to link disparate stories together.

I'm not saying that migratory geese couldn't have brought H5N1 to Qinghai, but given that they migrate from India, and we have only reports of serological exposure in three poultry workers there from 2002, and no reports of poultry dying, it seems unlikely. Even if unlikely, it is also premature to make conclusions based on limited evidence.

We need genetic typing of the Qinghai H5N1 strain to determine the relatedness to the outbreak in SE Asia. We need to find out if the birds that died at Qinghai actually died of avian influenza using normal pathological methods.

Ultimately, we need more research on the potential role of wild birds in avian influenza epidemiology. This research is necessary to improve biosecurity on all fronts - to protect human, livestock, and wildlife health.


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