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Fujian H5N8 In Commercial Farm In Stanislaus County California
Recombinomics Commentary
January 24, 2015 23:45

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5N8 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County, California. This is the first finding of HPAI in commercial poultry during the ongoing disease incident in the Pacific Flyway.

Samples from the flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS) and the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa confirmed the finding. APHIS is partnering closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), which has quarantined the facility. APHIS and CDFA have initiated an incident command response, and APHIS will assist CDFA in depopulating the remaining birds on the property to prevent the spread of the disease.

H5N8 with an amino acid sequence at the HA cleavage site that is consistent with highly pathogenic avian influenza has been identified in wild ducks in the Pacific flyway. HA and NA sequence fragments from these viruses, and the virus from the backyard finding, are essentially identical to that found in the reported gyrfalcon

The above comments (in red) are from an APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) press release on the first reported Fujian clade H5N8 outbreak in a commercial farm in North America.  The report of an outbreak in a turkey farm in Stanislaus County (see map) follows an OIE report on H5N8 in wild birds in the Pacific Flyway, including two in California (a gadwall in Butte County and an American green-winged teal in Yolo County).

The gadwall in Butte County was been cited in the prior OIE report in the comments section, but the location in California was omitted and was just cited as a gadwall in the Pacific Flyway and was not classified as new outbreak.  The gadwall, as well as the other three wild birds, was cited in an FDA table, and in the January 23 OIE Report each wild bird was cited as a new outbreak, with map coordinates as well as a map display, which are standard reporting procedures for new outbreaks.

The report also provided some sequence data (above in blue) which noted that all four H5 and N8 sequences were virtually identical to A/gyrfalcon/WA/41088/2014, which was the first report Fujian H5N8 case in North America.  These sequences have been deposited at Genbank, but have not yet been released. 

When compared to sequences from the 2014 outbreak in South Korea, the H5 is closest to A/Coot/Korea/H81/2014 while the N8 is closest to A/Baikal teal/Korea/H41/2014, indicating the H5 in the United States will be a different sub-clade than the H5N8 in Europe, Russia, and initial sequences in Japan.

The initial failure to acknowledge the Butte gadwall as a new outbreak may be released to attempts to limit import bans on US poultry.  However, the decision of some countries like China to can all US imports and the steady increase in H5N8, H5N2, and the recent detection of H5N1 may have led to yesterday’s OIE report that acknowledged the separate H5N8 and a January 23 H5N2 OIE report acknowledging multiple new H5N2 outbreaks.

The latest developments may signal a flood of new cases in the near term, including more commercial farms.

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