Just over a month ago, I published a post here: ECDC on the Canadian H5N1 case. Excerpt (with my new bolding):
On 8 January 2014, Canada reported a fatal imported case of influenza A(H5N1) infection. This is the first confirmed human case of H5N1 in North America.
The onset of symptoms began on 27 December 2013 during a return flight from Beijing to Edmonton via Vancouver. The symptoms worsened during the travel and the patient was admitted to hospital on arrival in Edmonton, and passed away on 3 January 2014. The clinical presentation, fever, malaise and headache, was consistent with meningo-encephalitis and did not involve the respiratory system which is unusual for A(H5N1) infection.
That seemed like a curious detail in an unusual case of a disease we still don't understand very well. Flublogia paid attention to the case for a few days and then went on to deal with other worries.
Now I see that the blog Pissin' on the Roses has posted a video charging that the Public Health Agency of Canada lied about the absence of respiratory symptoms in this case.
Its evidence is a new report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, which states: "The patient initially sought care for respiratory symptoms; however, the probable cause of death was listed as meningoencephalitis, an unusual outcome for HPAI A(H5N1) infections in humans."
Well, what's going on here? I have mixed feelings about the POTR blog, which undermines its own credibility with a bit too much attitude. Asserting that PHAC deliberately lied is a charge demanding more evidence.
God knows our present federal government has been known to misrepresent the truth. But I don't see what it thought it would gain by misrepresenting the patient's symptoms—least of all when the truth would certainly come out.
So until I see evidence of deliberate lying in this case, I'll assume incompetence led to the misleading statement. Either way, it makes Canada and its major health agency look pretty bad.