Friday, April 10, 2009

Silent/Subclinical H5N1 Infections in Egypt?

CIDRAP published an interesting article Wednesday about the possiblity of subclinical infections in Egypt, sparking fears that untreated subclinical infections could allow the virus more time to mutate and reassort to form a strain with pandemic potential. The Egyptian government, in partnership with the WHO, will soon start a study to investigate whether subclinical cases have been occurring. The study will include "testing the blood of people who were potentially exposed to infected birds but had not gotten sick."

"The recent series of H5N1 avian influenza cases in Egyptian children yet very few in adults has raised concern that some Egyptians may be getting infected without getting sick, according to a Reuters news report published today. If there is any subclinical case in Egypt, the aim is to treat immediately to stop the reproduction of the virus," he told Reuters. "Because whether [through] mutation or reassortment, this will lead to the pandemic strain."

The Reuters story said that all but two of the 11 Egyptians infected with H5N1 this year have been children under age 3 , as opposed to the cases last year which all occurred in adults and older children. When this many cases occur in children without similar cases in adults, it raises the question of whether adults were being infected without falling ill.

"Tim Uyeki, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the Influenza Division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CIDRAP News that limited studies in several countries over the past few years have found little serologic evidence of asymptomatic or unrecognized cases of H5N1 virus infection. "

For the full story see:

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