Efforts to monitor avian influenza in Asia continue to be hampered by a lack of viral sequence data from China, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert told The Scientist today (June 28). Without appropriate data, she said, it is impossible to compare Chinese virus with the strain circulating in Vietnam or to confirm the sensitivity of the PCR primers being used in China and elsewhere.

Julie Hall, WHO coordinator for communicable disease surveillance and response in China, was among 17 experts from WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Chinese government who visited remote Qinghai province last week to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 wild birds at a nature reserve.

Hall told The Scientist that while WHO had received data from poultry outbreaks in 2004, none had been passed on yet this year. Last week FAO sent a request to ministries of health in all H5N1-afflicted...

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