Saturday, June 17, 2006


Reuters is reporting today :

The H5N1 virus thrives in lower temperatures and is more infectious in the cooler months between October and March in the northern hemisphere. But China's confirmation on Thursday that a 31-year-old truck driver in the southern city of Shenzhen had been infected by the disease has brought uneasiness.

"Is this because the virus has changed, so that it can be highly infectious all year round? Or, if it is happening in summer, winter would be even worse?" Health Secretary York Chow told reporters. "We will have to monitor further." most of the other cases, it is a mystery how he came to be infected because there was no known outbreak of the disease in poultry in the area where he lived.

Lo Wing-lok, an infectious disease expert in Hong Kong, said China must explain how the truck driver came to be infected when it claimed there were no H5N1 outbreaks in birds in the area.

"They ought to come up with a reasonable explanation how this man came to be infected. Blanket denials don't help at all. When they deny we have to think twice about accepting," Lo said.

He recalled an incident in late January when a chicken that was smuggled into Hong Kong from Shenzhen was found with H5N1.

"It took only one tiny bird to show that the virus is there (in Shenzhen)," Lo said, adding that China should disclose how it conducts disease surveillance in poultry.

"I don't know if there is insufficient surveillance or if the data is too frightening to be disclosed," he said.

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