Wednesday, May 24, 2006

H2H avian flu transmission in Indonesia?

“Tell the truth. Just don’t tell the whole truth,” my AP English teacher said. It seems that The World Health Organization is following this advice in the wake of a recent Avian Flu outbreak in Indonesia.
A woman who worked selling vegetables contracted the H5N1 virus, possibly from live animals that were sold in the market where she worked. She brought the infection home and this resulted in the death of a total of six family members. A seventh family member was able to survive the infection.
In a conservative move the WHO has not explicitly stated that Human to Human (H2H) transmission is at play in this outbreak. Instead WHO said:

“no evidence that efficient human-to-human transmission has occurred”

Many Infectious Disease Professionals are arriving at the conclusion that H2H has occurred, although this transmission has not been efficient. So what’s the big deal? People who monitor H5N1 become suspicious when the WHO tells part of the truth. So when the WHO says genetic sequencing of this Indonesian flu strain shows no significant mutations in the virus, people may be skeptical. Especially since the sequencing is not freely shared with researchers.
The bottom line is that H5N1 has changed in this respect: it appears that people with no direct contact to poultry can become infected with the Avian Flu. This is a new development…or it is new because we are uncovering more of the whole truth?

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