- A laboratory jointly run by universities in Hong and
China said on Tuesday it had suspended studies into the H5N1 bird flu virus
after Beijing issued new guidelines which triggered fears of a crackdown
on academic freedom and independent research into the deadly disease.
- The new rules were issued on May 30, five days after
the Joint Influenza Research Centre sent an article to the international
journal Nature which said that infected wild birds in western China might
have picked up the virus from poultry farms in southern China.
- A day after the article was published, Jia Youling, director
general of the Ministry of Agriculture's Veterinary Bureau, criticised
the findings and said no bird flu had broken out in southern China this
- The closing of an independent lab in China is cause for
concern. The lab has been doing H5N1 research in collaboration with Yi
Guan's lab at Hong Kong University. The publication in Nature clearly
demonstrated that H5N1 was present in 2005 in eastern China, even though
China had filed no OIE reports in 2005 prior to the May 21 report on Qinghai
Lake. Subsequent reports were filed on outbreaks in Xinjiang province,
but there are still no reports of H5N1 in China in 2005 east of Qinhai
- The 2005 isolates from Shantou in Guangdong Province
were of particular interest, because five of the eight genes were virtually
identical to the corresponding genes from Qinghai Lake isolates, clearly
demonstrating a relationship between the H5N1 tarnsmitted betaeween two
regions in China. The lack of the PB2 mutation E627K in isolates outside
of Qinghai Lake supports the notion that the isolates in Shantou may be
from earlier Qinghai Lake infections instead of precursors of the Qinghai
Lake isolates. However, the relationship demands more study.
- China's actions strongly suggest they want to control
and withhold vital information regarding H5N1 in China. The sequences will
like be appearing throughout Asia and Europe via migratory birds wintering
in China and Russia, but samples collected as the H5N1 evolves this season
will be particularly important because of the lethality associated with
Qinghai isolates and the H5N1 endemic to much of Asia, including China
in general and Guangdong Province in particular.
- The Qinghai isolates, as well as isolates from Vietnam,
share many polymorphisms with isolates from Guangdong province. Independent
studies of this region should be increased not decreased.
- The timing of the new announcement, in view of the 20
isolates deposited at GenBank and Los Alamos (which included all 12 isolates
collected at Qinghai Lake), as well as the virulence of the Qinghai isolates,
increases concerns that there is a raging pandemic in China and information
on H5N1 is being withheld.
- It is doubtful that s. suis is the etiologic agent.
- China - Strange Disease Kills 17 In Sichuan
- From Patricia Doyle, PhD
- China View - Xinhua News Agency
- Investigations are under way after a mysterious disease
killed 17 farm workers and left at least 12 in a critical condition in
hospital in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
- Zeng Huajin, a senior official with the provincial health
department, said the deadly illness was "probably" caused by
_Streptococcus suis_, a bacterium usually spread among pigs. "I can
assure you that the disease is absolutely not SARS (severe acute respiratory
syndrome), anthrax or avian influenza," the official said last night.
"If it is caused by _Streptococcus suis_, we still need further research,"
- An initial 20 farm workers who handled sick or dead pigs
and sheep in 12 towns and 15 villages in Jianyang city and Ziyang city's
Yanjiang district suffered from high fever, nausea, vomiting and haemorrhaging.
But more cases were reported as health workers began to search villages
for the sick. "By noon on Saturday [23 Jul 2005], 58 people suspected
of having the disease had been reported in Ziyang and (neighbouring) Neijiang,"
according to a statement last night from the provincial health department.
"2 people (of those 58) have been released from hospital while 27
of them are recovering," the statement said.
- The statement said that the patients were from 49 villages
of 23 townships in Sichuan and they were not related to each other. Zeng
said the disease could not spread among humans, and normally only those
with a weak immune system became ill. The Ministry of Health and Ministry
of Agriculture last week sent a special team to Sichuan to assist in the
investigation, treatment and control of the outbreak. The 2 departments
were not available for comment yesterday. "This is a good job of disease
surveillance, and shows China has vastly improved its system since the
SARS period in 2003," World Health Organization spokesman Bob Dietz
was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
- A physician with Ziyang No 1 People's Hospital said yesterday
that people could quickly become ill and doctors were busy carrying out
emergency treatment. All patients were reportedly being treated at 3 hospitals
in Ziyang. Yesterday, Hong Kong put out an alert relating to the disease.
Frozen pork from Sichuan is safe to eat, the Secretary for Health, Welfare
and Food York Chow told the Hong Kong public. He confirmed that no live
pigs are imported from the province into the territory. He said frozen
pork imports come via designated companies with permits from the Hong Kong
- This outbreak appears to be more extensive than originally
reported, with another 58 people under observation with similar symptoms.
Our previous suggestion that the common factors of the sporadic nature
of the cases, the limitation to farmers tending pigs and sheep, and the
late development of haemorrhagic symptoms might suggest involvement of
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) virus probably no longer applies.
This suggestion is not compatible with the reported sickness and death
of the pigs and sheep in the care of the affected farmers. CCHF virus infection
does not normally produce symptoms in domestic animals. The disease bears
no resemblance to avian influenza and a bacterial infection is now the
locally preferred diagnosis. - Mod.CP
- _Streptoccossus suis_ is a commensal organism in pigs
that can cause invasive disease. The Gram-positive coccus can also cause
disease in man. Usually individuals at risk are those with exposure to
pigs or pork (pig farmers, slaughterhouse personnel, butchers). The most
common manifestation of human _S. suis_ infection is meningitis, and although
_S. suis_ infection is relatively rare in the West, it has been reported
to be the 2nd most common cause of pyogenic meningitis in Hong Kong (1).
Although most reports are from Asia, the infection in humans has been
reported in many countries in Europe as well. Early hearing loss in these
cases is a common feature (2). Additionally the infection may be more
virulent and recurrent in those who are asplenic or functionally hyposplenic
(3). Primary bacteremia, septic arthritis, pneumonia, and endocarditis
have also been reported (4).
- The infection is generally sporadic in man, and since
overt meningitis is not described in the current cases, it appears that
_S. suis_ is less likely to be the etiology of this outbreak in China.
- 1. Gui ACF, Ng KC, Tong PY, et al: Bacterial meningitis
in Hong Kong:10-years' experience. Clin Neurol Neurosurg 2005;107:366-70.
- 2. Donsakul DK, Dejthevaporn C, Witoonpanich R: Southeast
Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2003; 34:154-58.
- 3. Francois B, Gissot V, Ploy MC, Vignon P: Recurrent
septic shock due to _Streptococcus suis_. J Clin Microbiol 1998; 36:2395.
- 4. Kay R, Cheng AF, Tse CY: _Streptococcus suis_ infection
in Hong Kong. QJM 1995p;88:39-47. - Mod.LL] ...cp/pg/dk
- Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging
Diseases" message board at: http://www.clickitnews.com/ubbthreads/postlist.php?
Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health