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Qinghai H5N1 Confirmed in Hungary
Recombinomics Commentary
January 24, 2007

Hungarian laboratories have detected the presence of the deadly strain of H5N1 bird flu virus, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

"Bird flu tests have shown a high pathogenic H5 type, which looking at previous test results, belongs to the deadly N1 strain," the ministry said in a statement.

The above comments suggest that the determination of the H5 serotype included sequencing of the HA cleavage site, and finding the common GERRRKKR sequence signaling the Qinghai strain of H5N1.  Thus, although the serotype of the N1 has not been determined, the H5 sequence leaves little doubt that the H5 bird flu is the highly pathogenic Qinghai strain.

The detection of H5N1 in Europe this season is not a surprise.  Qinghai H5N1 was widely reported last year in late January and throughout February.  More H5N1 reports from Europe are expected.

The Qinghai strain is transmitted and transported by migratory birds.  Interactions between the dead ducks and wild ducks in Hungary had been noted.  Most initial fatal H5N1 infections will involve wild birds.

The failure of any European country to report recent H5N1 in wild birds is cause for concern.  The surveillance in these countries is fatally flawed, and like many of the countries in the Middle East and Africa, the Qinghai strain is only detected / reported when domestic poultry dies.

Samples from the dead geese are being sent to the WHO affiliated Weybridge lab in London.  Many countries in Europe sent samples for testing last year to Weybridge and widespread infections were confirmed.  However, these sequences are still being hoarded in the WHO private database at Los Alamos.  In several instances, this hoarding has been in place for well over one year since H5N1 confirmation.

The hoarding of H5N1 sequences, coupled with failure to detect or report H5N1 in Europe and the Middle East, remain scandalous.

The recent detection of the Tamiflu resistance, N294S, NA polymorphism in the fatal cases in the Gharbiya cluster strongly suggests that the polymorphism is in wild and domestic birds in the region. 

The failure to report the bird infections in Europe and the Middle East and/or release the sequences, is hazardous to the world’s health.

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