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Fujian Fills Flyway - H5N8 & H5N2 In Pacific
Recombinomics Commentary
January 6, 2015 11:30

The samples in California were collected from a hunter-harvested gadwall in Butte County, California, as part of increased wild bird surveillance. Testing by the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, a National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) laboratory, was positive on H5 PCR, and the sequencing results were consistent with Eurasian H5N8. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) received the samples on December 31 and confirmed the presence of HPAI H5N8. This is the same HPAI H5N8 strain that was found in Washington gryfalcons and the Oregon backyard poultry flock. This is not an unexpected finding, given wild waterfowl migratory patterns in the Pacific flyway.
The above comments provide additional detail on the H5N8 confirmation in a wild gadwall harvested in Butte County, California.  This confirmation extends reported cases for H5N8 significantly to the south (see map) and to all three Pacific coast states in the US, all of which are in the Pacific Flyway.  In addition to H5N8 confirmation in all three states, H5N2 has been confirmed in Washington State, as well as British Columbia, further extending the reach of Fujian H5 (clade

Details on the full serotype in the backyard farm in Benton, Washington have not been released and media coverage of the reports on Benton City, Washington as well as Butte County, California has been limited.  The most recent US OIE report (December 29) updates the Oregon details, but information on the two most recent confirmations has been limited. Similarly, although sequence data has been generated on recent samples from Washington and California, no detail has been provided.

Moreover, neither the US nor Canada have made sequences public, even though initial British Columbia sequences were generated over a month ago (on December 4) and US H5N2 and H5N8 sequences were cited in the December 16 OIE report.  The relatedness of the US sequences suggests they are distinct from the H5N8 in Europe and Russia although all link back to the South Korean clade bird  flu outbreak in early 2014.

The spread to California is significant and suggest that Fujian H5 is also in southern California and Mexico with potential serious damage to the poultry industry.  The extended reach in the Pacific Flyway raises concerns that there are additional locations in the Central or Mississippi Flyway linked to migration from Russia to Canada over water exposed by the shrinking Arctic icecap.

Surveillance has been limited.  Canada has yet to report H5N8 or H5N2 in wild birds and US efforts have been concentrated in the Pacific Flyway.

More extensive surveillance and release of sequences from cases in Canada and the US would be useful.

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