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Suspect Qinghai H5N1 Infections in Japan
Recombinomics Commentary
January 11, 2007

The suspected outbreak has been found at a poultry farm in the town of Kiyodake in western Miyazaki prefecture, prefectural official Toyonari Nukumizu said.

The prefecture has reported the suspected outbreak to the Agriculture Ministry and has begun tests to determine whether an outbreak has actually occurred, Nukumizu said.

The results of the tests - including what strain of the virus is present if bird flu is indeed confirmed to be involved - won't be known until Friday evening, he added.

The above comments describe a suspect H5N1 outbreak in western Japan.  This outbreak was not unexpected.  Last month South Korea confirmed multiple H5N1 outbreaks along a migratory bird pathway.  Qinghai H5N1 was identified.  In December, 2003, H5N1 was identified in South Korea and spread to Japan in January.  Isolates in both countries were similar, and had regions of identity withy the Qinghai strain, which was first reported at Qinghai Lake in May 2005.

The Qinghai strain subsequently spread to Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia followed by multiple countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Thus, the outbreak of the Qinghai strain in December in South Korea, strongly suggested Qinghai H5N1 would be detected in western Japan in January.

Confirmation of H5N1 and sequence data would be useful.  The Qinghai strain is expected.  It has also recently re-emerged in countries to the west, including human cases in Egypt.

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