News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: H5N1 Human-to-Human Transmission in Azerbaijan Possible

Saturday, March 04, 2006

H5N1 Human-to-Human Transmission in Azerbaijan Possible

There are indications that H5N1 has mutated into a form that's transmitted from human to human. The Azeri government reports that most members of a family have died in what's known as a cluster case. ...

According to a Recombinomics commentary:

A Fatal Familial Cluster of H5N1 Bird Flu in Azerbaijan Is Likely: A top official in Azerbaijan said on Saturday a family of six people could have contracted bird flu, although it was too early to be sure.

"The preliminary diagnosis is severe pneumonia but this is a suspicious case," said Abbas Velibeyev, deputy health minister, on ATV television.

When asked if the family, which keeps chickens and has seen two children die in the last month

The description above appears to be another familial H5N1 infection with human-to-human transmission. Two children have already died and four other family members are hospitalized. The location of this outbreak relative to large clusters in Turkey and Iraq suggests the clusters are linked to S227N.

S227N was noted in the index case of the Turkey outbreak. Although it was said to be missing from the isolate from the sister of the index case, it is unclear if the isolate was from mammalian cells or chicken eggs. Chicken eggs are known to select against polymorphisms which increase the affinity for human receptors, which ahs been shown for S227N.

This cluster in Azerbaijan suggests S227N is spreading in the area. Although it has been over two months since the outbreak in Turkey was reported. WHO and consultants are hoarding the sequences from this outbreak.
Update 3/4/06 According to a report of an international virus expert meeting in Taipei:
Masato Tashiro, director of the Department of Viral Diseases and Vaccine Control at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo, warned that cases in which the virus transmitted from birds to humans had begun to rise recently and human-to-human virus transmissions are likely to be seen in the near future.
Update 3/5/06 According to the Shanghai Daily:
THE Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed a 32-year-old man in Guangdong Province died of bird flu.

Meanwhile, Zhong Nanshan, a SARS expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, warned avian influenza will surely spread around the world this year and that the virus will likely be transmitted to people via unknown means.
Lao's symptoms followed several visits to an agricultural market, where he was close to a live poultry slaughtering site. [my emphasis]
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