Bus driver dies of H5N1 in Shenzhen China

Chen Xing, a 39 year old bus driver in the city of Shenzhen, Guandong Province, China, became ill on December 21, 2011. He was treated but did not improve (NDTV). On December 25, 2011 he was hospitalised. On December 26, 2011 he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He died of multiple organ failure on December 31, 2011 (Chinese Today). H5N1 infection was confirmed (New York Times). He had no known contact with birds prior to his infection. He also had not recently traveled.

He is estimated to have been in contact with over 100 people while infected. According to reports, these people have been identified and are being monitored for signs of infection. Thus far, there have been no additional cases.

Outstanding questions:

1. How was the patient infected? With no connection to birds, the possibility of human to human transmission is obviously a possibility (Voice of Russia).

2. Was the patient treated with Tamiflu? If so, that would suggest that he may have been infected with a resistant strain.

3. When will the sequences be deposited in GenBank? China has the capacity to rapidly sequence, analyse and deposit the relevant sequences. BGI is located in Shenzhen and was especially helpful in sequencing the bacteria that caused the E Coli outbreak in Germany earlier this year. It would be odd if they were not equally speedy in sequencing and depositing data from a lethal virus in their own backyard.

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