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H5N1 Confirmed in Iran

Recombinomics Commentary

February 14, 2006

"International laboratory results confirm that some wild swans died from bird flu," a statement from Iran's veterinary organisation said.

Tested samples came from some wild swans in a flock of 135 found dead in wetlands near the Caspian Sea port of Bandar-e Anzali on Iran's northern coast. The Azeri outbreak reported last week was in birds in the Caspian Sea.

The confirmation of H5N1 in Iran expands the number of countries in the Middle East reporting H5N1 outbreaks.  In October Iran filed an OIE report on massive die-offs of wild birds, but maintained hat the cause of death was not H5N1.  As recently as last week Iran filed another report on the same area that is now reported to be H5N1 positive.  Last weeks report again indicate that H5N1 was not present.

Many other countries in the Middle East have yet to file OIE reports.  The large number of H5N1 confirmations in Europe, coupled with the confirmation of H5N1 in Nigeria, indicates that as expected H5N1 migrated into Europe in the fall, and then migrated through the Middle East into Africa.

Countries in the migratory path, including all countries in the Middle East have H5N1 and those countries that continue to deny the presence of H5N1 are cause for concern.  Large outbreaks in Turkey and Nigeria developed because of a lack of reporting.  The H5N1 was allowed to expand in domestic and wild birds and is now likely endemic I the region.  This high concentration of H5N1 and H9N2 in the area, provides a mechanism for creating dangerous polymorphisms, such as S227N which was identified in Turkey.

As H5N1 continues expanding its geographical reach, opportunities for new recombinations and new polymorphisms will be a major concern.


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