Nov 10, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – China said today it would share more avian influenza virus samples, despite reported misuse of some shared previously, and repeated its rejection of a report that a new strain of H5N1 virus has spread through southern China, according to news services.The World Health Organization (WHO) said China is sending 20 H5N1 avian flu virus samples to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Reuters reported today. Henk Bekedam, WHO representative in Beijing, told Reuters the samples are from 2004 and 2005.China’s promise to share more avian flu samples comes on the heels of a WHO apology to China for the misuse of previous samples that the country provided, according to the Chinese news service Xinhua. Jia Youling, China’s chief veterinarian, told reporters today that Bekedam had personally apologized to him for the incidents.Jia said foreign research institutions improperly used Chinese samples in two cases. In one instance, a research paper attributed the Chinese samples to other countries, Xinhua reported. One of the coauthors of the paper, Robert Webster, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, also apologized to the Chinese research institution involved, Jia said.In the second case, foreign researchers cited a Chinese sample without giving credit to the Chinese, which violates international protocol, Xinhua reported.Jia rebuffed criticisms that China hasn’t shared its avian flu samples with the international community. He said the country sent five samples to the WHO in June 2005 and sent the CDC another 20 samples this year.CDC officials reported in September that 20 samples expected from China had been delayed because of a disagreement over the mailing protocol but that the problem had been resolved. CDC officials could not be reached today to clarify whether the samples were actually received.It’s unclear if the new batch of Chinese samples will shed new light on claims by US and Hong Kong researchers that a new subtype of H5N1 avian flu virus, the “Fujian-like” strain, has become predominant in southern China over the past year. Researchers writing Oct 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggested that the strain may be resistant to Chinese poultry vaccines and that it has been found in human H5N1 cases in China.Chinese officials immediately rejected the study, and Jia repeated that denial today. The Reuters report quoted him as saying, “There is no such thing as a new ‘Fujian-like’ virus variant at all.”Earlier, in a Nov 6 China Daily report, some of China’s leading avian influenza experts asserted that the PNAS report lacked scientific proof. Chen Hualan, director of the National Bird Flu Reference Laboratory at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said genetic analysis showed that the so-called Fujian-like virus “shares high conformity with the H5N1 virus that was isolated in Hunan when bird flu broke out in early 2004.” She added that samples from every domestic avian flu outbreak are sent to her lab for isolation and genetic sequencing.Chen said that in 2005 and 2006 the lab isolated viruses from waterfowl in southern China and reported the results to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). “These viruses all remain steady in gene type, and there is no marked change in their biological characteristics,” she said.Chen also contested the PNAS report’s suggestion that the Fujian-like strain may be resistant to the Chinese poultry vaccine. She said the researchers did not specify the locations and vaccination status of the chickens they tested, and pointed to decreasing numbers of avian flu cases as evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture said 95% of domestic poultry were vaccinated between January and October.Shu Yuelong, director of the National Influenza Center at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the PNAS authors’ claim that five people in southern China were infected by the Fujian-like strain was wrong, according to China Daily.”Fifteen out of the 16 variants were isolated from [human] cases in southern China and they belong to the same gene type. There is no proof that five of them were infected by a new mutated virus,” Yuelong said.See also:Sep 11 CIDRAP News article “Way cleared for China to share H5N1 samples”Oct 30 PNAS report on the emergence of a Fujian-like H5N1 influenza virus in Chinahttp://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0608157103v1Nov 3 CIDRAP News article “Study says new H5N1 strain pervades southern China”
No. 13 USC (30-11) looks to regain momentum tonight at Dedeaux Field against the Cal State Fullerton Titans after dropping a disappointing Pac-12 series last weekend against Oregon State.The Trojans came out with a punch over the weekend behind a strong start from junior Tyler Gilbert, who threw seven complete innings of four-hit baseball. USC delivered an all-around impressive offensive showing, defeating Oregon State 11-3 during game one of the series.In game two, the Trojans managed a comeback from a 2-0 deficit during the top of the sixth, but a lead off walk in the bottom of the ninth proved deadly for the Trojans, after pinch hitter Billy King singled through the right side to bring in the game-winning run from third.The Trojans once again had trouble with consistency on the mound during game three, allowing Oregon State to win the game 9-6. Despite the threat of a major comeback in the top of the ninth as they attempted to crawl out of a 9-4 deficit, they could only produce two more runs in the loss, falling 2-1 in the series.Tonight, USC looks to shake off last week and start fresh against the visiting Cal State Fullerton Titans. Currently, the Titans hold a 22-20 overall record, an 8-4 record in the Big West Conference and an 8-12 record on the road.Cal State Fullerton is highlighted at the plate by junior outfielders Josh Vargas, David Olmedo-Barrera and Tyler Steib. The Titans, similarly to the Trojans, have recently transitioned from a very young team to one more experienced, boasting a starting roster of almost all juniors. The Titans are led behind the mound by junior Thomas Eshelman with a 2.10 ERA and junior Justin Garza with a 3.56 ERA.The Trojans and Titans last met on Feb. 17 in Fullerton where the Trojans came away with the game 6-4. The then-No. 25 Titans were unable to halt the Trojans’ hot streak during the fourth inning as the team put up four more runs to put the game out of reach. Sophomore Bernardo Flores got the win, entering in relief in the fifth to throw three innings, striking out four batters while allowing two runs on three hits with no walks.Tonight, the Titans will enter the game following a 2-1 series victory at home against UC Irvine.Reviewing the numbers, USC currently maintains a .297 team batting average compared to CSFU’s .259 average. USC has a 3.13 team ERA, and CSFU holds a 3.38 team ERA.Statistics aside, USC head coach Dan Hubbs believes the key to tomorrow night’s game remains the same as all season: overall game consistency.“It’s the same as it always is with us; we need to pitch well and hit well every time we enter a game,” Hubbs said. “I think we pitched extremely well last Friday and pretty well on Saturday. On Sunday we pitched really poorly, and we faced the consequences of that. We just need to play well [tonight] and get back in our rhythm. If we can do that we’ll be in the position to win. We just need to play our game.”In terms of pitching, the Trojan team has recently had trouble finishing off batters and putting men on bases because of walks, oftentimes to lead off innings. Hubbs believes that minimizing the number of walks will be key to playing clean defense in tonight’s match.“I think we really need to focus on cutting down on our walks, especially from the guys in the pen but also our starters as well,” Hubbs said. “Some guys will get some work in tomorrow so hopefully that will help straighten them out for the weekend because we can’t keep giving out too many.”Working in USC’s favor is the fact that the team tends to play very well at home. The Trojans currently hold an 18-6 record at home, a factor that Hubbs hopes will positively influence the team in tonight’s game.“We always tend to play really well at home, which will hopefully really work in our favor tonight,” Hubbs said. “That being said, we’re going to need to stop them early in order for that to remain an advantage. We need to get ourselves on the board early in the game and then extend. We’ve done a good job of that when we’re at home and we tend to pitch much better at home. I don’t expect tomorrow to be any different.”The Trojans will host the Titans tonight at 6 p.m. PST at Dedeaux Field. The game will also be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.