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Uva Lake H5N1 in Romania

Recombinomics Commentary 09:11
January 8, 2008

Sequences from the November, 2007 outbreak in Romania have been made public at Genbank today.  Although the three HA sequences are from different species, A/duck/Romania/TL/nov/2007(H5N1), A/chicken/Romania/TL/nov/2007(H5N1),
A/cat/Romania/TL/nov/2007(H5N1), all three sequences are identical and closely related to the Uva Lake sequences recently released from three locations in Germany (collected over the summer), as well as the September outbreak in Krasnodar (sequences from a chicken and whooper swan).  The sequences from South Korea from the end of 2006 are also the Uva Lake strain.

Descriptions of other sequences indicate the Uva Lake strain was in Kuwait, Czech Republic, France, England, and northeast Germany last year, strongly implying that sequences from Poland and Rostov will also be the Uva Lake strain.

However, although all of the above are the Uva Lake strain, each outbreak represents an independent introduction that can be readily distinguished from the other Uva Lake outbreaks.

Release of sequences from recent outbreaks in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt would be useful.

Romania has released sequences just over a month after the outbreak was reported.  This transparency is commendable and is in marked contrast to the WHO reference lab in Weybridge, which still has not released the Romanian H5N1 from October, 2005.  The hoarding of these sequences for over two years is not unusual. Weybridge has sequences from isolates collected two years ago throughout Europe, which are still being hoarded.  Two years ago phylogenetic trees of these sequences were presented (see trees here and here).

The latest sequences from Romania demonstrate the sharing of polymorphisms with a number of clade 2.2 isolates from 2006 and 2007, including several isolates from Egypt.  These databases allow for tracing of these polymorphisms (see examples here), which is limited by the hoarding of sequences by WHO regional centers, such as Weybridge.

The time for release of these sequences has passed.

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