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No sign of missed H5N1 cases in Bangladesh study

No signs of H5N1 avian influenza infections were found in more than 400 Bangladeshis who were probably exposed to the virus while working on poultry farms and in markets, according to a study reported in preliminary form today.

The findings were presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID) in Atlanta. They are in line with a number of previous serologic studies in the past 8 years that have found few people carrying H5N1 antibodies suggesting they had unrecognized H5N1 infections.

The question of undetected H5N1 cases has gained new prominence in the current debate over studies involving genetically modified H5N1 viruses with increased transmissibility. A few researchers have contended that the real case-fatality rate for human H5N1 is probably far lower than the 59% indicated by the official number of known cases and deaths, because, they say, many asymptomatic or mild cases have probably gone undetected.

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