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Fujian H5N8 Migrates To Davis County Utah
Recombinomics Commentary
January 13, 2015 23:45

The avian influenza virus strain H5N8 was confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa in an American widgeon duck, on Jan. 9, 2015. Several other wild birds taken by hunters near the Great Salt Lake in Davis County are also undergoing tests

The above comments by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food confirm the presence of H5N8 in a hunter killed widgeon in Davis County near the Great Salt Lake.  The January 9 confirmation date by the FDA in Iowa suggest that the January 7 warning to hunters people with backyard flocks was linked to PCR confirmation by the Utah State lab,  The January 7 warning noted recent confirmation of H5N8 and H5N2 in Washington, Oregon, and California in backyard farms and wild birds.

The location of the Utah widgeon is near the border of the Pacific and Mountain flyways and is the farthest east (see H5N8 map and H5N2 map), which suggests there will be additional detections in the near term, which will undermine USDA efforts to convince other countries from banning imports from the United States.  In its most recent OIE filing, the Butte County, California location of the H5N8 gadwall was withheld, but China subsequently banned imports from the US because of Fujian H5 detections in multiple states (which increased to four states with the latest confirmation).

The confirmations thus far have been limited to wild birds and smaller farms, although the farm in Richland, Washington had 500 birds which were raised for commercial purposes, although the USDA maintains that farms with 200 or 500 birds are not commercial farms.

Surveillance worldwide remains suspect.  Although Canada has detected H5N2 in 12 farms in British Columbia, they have not detected H5N2 or H5N8 in wild birds.  Similarly, Taiwan failed to detect and/or report an Asian Fujian H5N2 and H5N8 prior to massive infections throughout the western side of the island and no cases have been reported in Fujian Province, less than 80 miles from Taiwan.

The reports of H5N8 in countries in Europe and North America, as well as Asian locations such as Taiwan, raises concerns of a global spread, which may dramatically increase if the H5 in Nigeria is also H5N8.
It spite of this dramatic spread, none of the sequences from North America have been made public by Canada and the US. 

Release of these sequences as well as those in Taiwan would be useful.  The public sequences have all lost the glycosylation site ate position 158, which is associated with increased gal 2.6 binding, and H5N8 infections in dogs, mice , and rats has been noted.

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