We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

A surge in human cases of H5N1 bird flu in China, despite few outbreaks of the virus in domestic poultry flocks, has left experts puzzled, The Lancet reports.

Six of this year's eight human cases have occurred in provinces that have been unaffected by poultry outbreaks.

This has led to concerns that the H5N1 virus might have changed substantially, although the nature of that change is unclear.

"Whether that change is in the virus, in how it is spread, in how poultry are responding to it, or in human behaviour to bypass public-health measures and avoid a loss of income when flocks are culled, or is simply … better surveillance and testing, is not yet clear," says the article.

The lack of poultry outbreaks spells trouble because the birds normally serve as a sentinel, sounding the alarm.

Some experts point to the owners of sick and dying birds, who might be omitting to report the disease, and to veterinary authorities, who might be failing to recognise it. There is also speculation over "deliberate suppression of reports due to the severe consequences associated with reporting".

To date, China has identified H5N1 bird flu in 38 people, 25 of whom have died.

Link to full article in The Lancet*

*Free registration is required to view this article