Sun, Jul 17, 2005 - Page 8 News List

China's in denial about H5N1

By Brad Arnold

Last week, sequences of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 "bird flu" from Qinghai Lake were published in the journal Nature.

Hong Kong University scientist Guan Yi, who led the study of migratory birds struck down with avian flu in April in Qinghai Province, said he had been accused by Chinese authorities of stealing state secrets after the study was published.

This seems to indicate that the Chinese government considers the widespread presence of H5N1 throughout its country this year to be one of its "state secrets."

The real "state secret" in the Nature report is the isolation of H5N1 from at least four provinces in China in 2005.

The publication of the 2005 H5N1 sequences from Fujian, Hunan, Yunnan, and Shantou provinces indicates that the Chinese government failed to report associated outbreaks.

To deny the presence of the H5N1 virus in these provinces would require calling the sequences a lab artifact or contaminant.

Brad Arnold

Minnesota

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