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”
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens preparing to take on their hated rival for the second time this season, Wednesday brought new hope in seeing the return of a player out of action since the first Pittsburgh game.Left guard Ben Grubbs returned to practice for the first time since the week following the bye when he practiced on a limited basis but was held out against the Houston Texans. An injured right toe has sidelined the offensive lineman since playing in the season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 11.However, the news was not as promising for wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), who was not present for the portion of practice open to the media. The veteran wideout has not played since the Ravens’ Week 2 loss to the Titans.Joining Evans as absentees during the open portion of practice on Wednesday were linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), return specialist David Reed (undisclosed), and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (undisclosed). Ngata appeared to get nicked up at one point during the Ravens’ win over the Cardinals on Sunday but quickly returned to action.Cornerback Danny Gorrer (thigh) and running back Anthony Allen (thigh) also returned to practice after both were inactive against Arizona. Allen has missed the last two games while Gorrer was injured during Thursday’s practice last week.The Ravens also announced they’ve signed linebacker Edgar Jones to assume Prescott Burgess’ spot on the 53-man roster. Jones spent three-plus seasons with the Ravens, playing both linebacker and tight end as well as contributing on special teams.Coach John Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday’s practice that the Ravens will use Jones as an outside linebacker. The five-year veteran spent his 2011 training camp with the Washington Redskins and will wear No. 56.Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, and Jameel McClain prior to Wednesday afternoon’s practice.