Dec 11, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – International health officials who met with Chinese health experts last week said the dispute over the “Fujian-like” strain of H5N1 avian influenza reflects confusion over names and vowed to seek an agreement on terminology for the various H5N1 subgroups.The meeting in Beijing came a few weeks after US and Hong Kong scientists reported in a medical journal that the Fujian-like strain had emerged as the predominant H5N1 strain in southern China in the past year and caused increased poultry outbreaks. Chinese authorities rejected the report, saying the strain did not exist as a distinct subgroup.A postmeeting statement from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) affirmed the existence of the Fujian-like strain, but said it has been called several different names.Participants agreed that “a number of significant H5N1 virus groups have been identified from poultry and wild birds in China since 2004,” the statement said. “One such identified group of viruses has been termed differently by several groups. Terms include the ‘waterfowl clade’, ‘clade 2.3’, and ‘Fujian-like’.”The statement also said, “It was agreed there is a need for a shared understanding and a common nomenclature for influenza A(H5N1) groups and that some of the recent confusion about the avian influenza situation in China resulted from multiple terms used to describe the same virus groups.”FAO/OIE/WHO will establish an international working group including Chinese experts to develop global consensus on terminology to be used when describing different influenza A(H5N1) virus groups.”According to a Reuters report, the WHO’s David Heymann told reporters after the meeting, “It’s very important that naming of viruses is done in a way that doesn’t stigmatize countries, that doesn’t stigmatize regions and doesn’t stigmatize individual people.” Heymann is the WHO’s assistant director-general for communicable diseases.Media reports on the meeting said Chinese experts didn’t deny the existence of the Fujian-like strain but did take exception to the name. According to a Canadian Press (CP) report, Chinese officials said the Hong Kong–US researchers had renamed a known H5N1 subgroup that some other authorities called Anhui-like, Anhui being another Chinese province.The FAO-OIE-WHO statement affirmed some aspects of the Hong Kong–US researchers’ report, which was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For example, the statement said information presented at the meeting indicated that the Fujian-like strain has grown more common in parts of southern China since 2005 and has been found in poultry in Laos and Malaysia this year.In addition, the statement said, “This virus group has been documented to cause some human infection in 2005 and 2006 in China,” as the Hong Kong–US researchers had said.But contrary to another possibility the researchers have suggested, “There is no evidence to date to link the emergence of this virus group with use of poultry influenza vaccination in China.”The statement affirmed that vaccination can control H5N1 in poultry, provided that vaccines are of high quality and well matched to circulating viruses and that vaccination coverage is adequate.”China has recently strengthened poultry surveillance to include serological (antibody) and virus surveillance as well as surveillance for disease outbreaks,” the statement added. With the increased surveillance, China is now publishing data monthly on the Ministry of Agriculture Web site, rather than annually, news services reported.China has been criticized for sharing too little data on the H5N1 virus and too few samples. Last month the country promised to provide samples to the WHO.Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of the WHO global influenza program, said all participants at the meeting agreed that sharing information and virus samples “is critical for the defense of everybody,” according to Reuters.The FAO-OIE-WHO statement said there has been no evidence that the Fujian-like strain is more transmissible to humans than other H5N1 viruses and no evidence that it has sparked human-to-human transmission.See also:Nov 10 CIDRAP News story “Chinese promise H5N1 samples, deny claim of new strain”Nov 3 CIDRAP News story “Study says new H5N1 strain pervades southern China”
Memorial Day is often thought of as the kickoff to summer, a day filled with polo shirts, barbecues and sports. But this day is really about remembering and honoring those we lost who have gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedoms that we take for granted daily.The sports world does not stop for its fallen heroes, even though there have been many. The NBA and NHL playoffs roar on towards their championship accumulation, and the MLB is nearly two months into its lengthy season. While our fallen athletes might have never reached their full potential on the field, they’ve done more for our country than they ever could have with a ball or bat. This Memorial Day, we should remember our former soldiers for their service to our country and honor their teams in their memory.One of the most notable and recent athletes to abandon civilian life was Pat Tillman. The All-Pro safety for the Arizona Cardinals was drafted in the seventh round of the 1998 draft. Following the 9/11 attacks, Tillman opted to forgo a three-year, $3.6 million contract to enlist with the Army Rangers. Tillman was deployed to Iraq, and returned to America to graduate from Ranger School in 2003. He was then redeployed to Afghanistan where he was killed in a friendly fire incident.Bob Kalsu was another star in the making before he gave up his career to fight for America. The All-American offensive tackle from Oklahoma started nine games for the Buffalo Bills in his rookie stint in the 1968 season. The following year he enlisted in the Army to satisfy his ROTC requirement. Despite being given the option to join the Reserves, Kalsu insisted on committing to active duty. In November of 1969, Kalsu found himself fighting in Vietnam. Eight months later, Kalsu suffered a severe head injury from a mortar and died just a day before his wife gave birth to their second child.Andrew Jackson (Jack) Lummus Jr. was a baseball and football standout at Baylor University. Following his graduation, he signed with the New York Giants in 1941, helping them win the Eastern division before losing in the championship game to the Chicago Bears. The game was just a short two weeks after the shocking attack on Pearl Harbor. In January of 1942, Jack joined the Marine Corps. Lummus rose to the rank of first lieutenant and led troops to storm the beaches of Iwo Jima in what would prove to be one of the most heroic and important battles of World War II. Lummus was mortally wounded in the battle, losing both legs from enemy grenades. He continued to lead and inspire his men as they battled in his honor. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his courage.Elmer Gedeon began his athletic career at University of Michigan, where he was a three-sport star earning All-American honors in track and field, as well as lettering in baseball and football. In 1939, Gedeon chose to sign with the Washington Senators and spent only 67 games in the minor leagues before being called up to major league action. He was given only 15 major league at-bats and returned to the minor leagues for most of 1940 before being drafted into the Army. There, he worked his way to becoming a pilot. He survived a plane crash during training and received the Soldier’s Medal for returning to the wreckage to save others. In 1944, while flying over France, Gedeon’s bomber had just finished its mission when the plane was hit in the cockpit, sending Gedeon and five other soliders to their deaths.These athletes sacrificed not only their promising careers, but also their lives as Americans. Next time you head to your backyard for a quick pickup game, remember why we have the freedoms that we do.Hailey Tucker is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. Her column, “Hangin’ With Hailey,” runs every other Wednesday.