This study investigates spatiotemporal distributions of reported cases of the avian influenza H5N1 (bird flu) in Southern China in early 2004. Forty-nine cases of the avian influenza H5N1 covering a 6-week period (January 19, 2004, through March 9, 2004) were compiled from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the World Health Organization. Geographic information systems (GIS) techniques combined with statistical techniques were used to analyze the spatiotemporal variation of reported cases of avian influenza. Using Oden's direction method, we also explored the spatiotemporal interaction of individual-level avian influenza cases during the study duration. The peak period (temporal clustering) for the epidemiological avian influenza outbreak occurred between the third and fourth weeks. Although we observed a major northeast–southwest distribution of the avian influenza H5N1 cases, there was no significant spatiotemporal association in average “direction of advance” of these cases. The directional finding is very consistent with the major migratory bird routes in East Asia, but owing to weak surveillance and reporting systems in the region, the study findings warrant further evaluation.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4