Knowledge of the genetic make-up of circulating virus provides a critical warning sign regarding an impending pandemic. The countries involved have resource and facility limitations but also may wish to control information because of impact on trade and tourism. We recently posted on the testing problem and suggested pressure or incentives be applied to increase cooperation.
Nature reports Vietnam may ship a large number of samples to the WHO flu center at CDC sometime soon. It's a start but it hasn't happened yet. The situation is urgent. WHO needs to get it in gear.
Several of the six H5N1 isolates contain a mutated form of the virus, but with so few samples to work on, it is impossible to judge how worried to be, says Klaus Stöhr, coordinator of the WHO's flu programme. "It's as if you hear a noise in your car engine, but you keep driving, not knowing whether it's serious."
Memo to Klaus: It's serious.
Here's a mainstream link on this story.
Here's the Nature link, subscription required.
Recombinomics weighs in...
Finally, don't miss the comments on Effect Measure.
Here's an article about "uncomfortable" flu 25 years ago.
Recombinomics explains yesterday's story about the bad flu tests, and why a simple test can't be solely relied on in definite determination of flu victims.
Yesterday, we reported on flu found in Indian poultry workers. Recombinomics discusses the significance of this news. Samples were drawn in 2002, and at that time, this flu was thought to have only been in Hong Kong.
CDC has updated its bird flu fact sheet.