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April 28, 2005

Avian influenza H5N1: Tiger-to-tiger

Thanawongnuwech R, Amonsin A, Tantilertcharoen R, Damrongwatanapokin S, Theamboonlers A, Payungporn S, et al. Probable tiger-to-tiger transmission of avian influenza H5N1. Emerg Infect Dis[serial on the Internet]. 2005 May.

During the second outbreak of avian influenza H5N1 in Thailand, probable horizontal transmission among tigers was demonstrated in the tiger zoo. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of those viruses showed no differences from the first isolate obtained in January 2004. This finding has implications for influenza virus epidemiology and pathogenicity in mammals.

In mid-January 2004, an epizootic outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI H5N1 strain) was reported in poultry and various other birds in Thailand (1). Two tigers (Panthera tigris) and 2 leopards (P. pardus) in a zoo in Suphanburi, Thailand, died after experiencing high fever and respiratory distress; H5N1 infection was later confirmed as the cause of the illness (2). The animals had been fed raw chicken carcasses that were possibly contaminated with the HPAI H5N1 virus. A tiger zoo in Sriracha, Chonburi, Thailand, was affected by HPAI beginning on October 11, 2004.

Damn. Bad news: probable mammal-to-mammal transmission. Good news: occured in a GRAC species (GRAC=generally regarded as cute). Sorry, Vietnamese babies are not GRAC in the current media climate. Nor is the pope, though, as Revere notes, he also belongs to a high risk group.


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I thought tigers were of type CBD (Cute But Deadly)

Did you check out that paper. Those guys have over 400 tigers captive! Sounds like a feed lot.

Crap, very bad news.
While the bird flu has been sporadic odds are the next pandemic is going to be from a slightly mutated form ... that it's already gotten into the duck population as a resevoir animal, and now this feline to feline transmission varient, doesn't bode well. Heck, it's only been some 75 years since humans have had the one-upmanship over virus/bacteria/parasites (though arrogantly so, as there is still so much we can't do ... at least we're not dying from cut fingers as often now) in the evolutionary scheme of things we shouldn't be too surprised that the micro-world is working its way back. Heck, look at all that fresh territory to colonize, 6.3 billion of them.
Damn scary.

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