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Fujian H5N8 In Kings County California Signals Spread
Recombinomics Commentary
February 16, 2015 23:15

On 12 February 2015, the USDA APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed HPAI EA H5N8 virus in a commercial chicken and duck flock in Kings County, California. The flock was experiencing an increase in chicken mortality. The detection of the HPAI H5N8 in the commercial chicken and duck flock is related to the recent avian influenza events in wild birds. The partial HA/NA sequence is >99% similar to A/gyrfalcon/WA/41088-6/2014 HPAI EA H5N8 based upon direct sequence attempt from chicken swab specimen.

The above comments from the February 13 OIE report confirms the H5N8 reported in the USDA Pacific flyway update.  This is the second H5N8 outbreak in a commercial farm in California (see H5N8 map), which follows three reports of H5N8 in California wild birds (in Butte and Yolo counties).  In addition to the above outbreak, which involved 114,000 birds, the Pacific update also cited H5N2 in a backyard farm in Clallam County (see H5N2 map) and the Oregon Department of Agriculture cited a HPAI outbreak in a backyard farm in Deschutes County.. 

The reporting of outbreaks on farms on all three west coast states raises concerns that the frequency of HPAI (H5N1, H5N2, or H5N8) in wild birds is on the rise, which may be masked by delayed reports.  Friday’s USDA report including the APHIS wild bird update increased the number of infections confirmed on February 2 to 14.  However, only 9 of the 14 confirmations were cited in the February 4 report, and 3 of those reported on February 13 were from collections made in 2014. 

These delays raise concerns that the infection frequency in February has markedly increased, but confirmations and reports have been significantly delayed.This increased frequency of HPAI in wild birds and farms raises concerns that the return of wild birds to Canada may lead to a new wave of outbreaks in March and April. 

Recently released sequences indicate that the H5 in all three serotypes (H5N1 A/American green-winged teal/Washington/195750/2014, H5N2 A/Northern pintail/Washington/40964/2014, and H5N8 A/gyrfalcon/Washington/41088-6/2014) are related to the crane sequences from Kagoshima, A/crane/Kagoshima/KU1/2014.  This subclade is also responsible for the outbreaks in Taiwan, involving H5N2 A/Goose/Taiwan/0104/2015, H5N3 A/Goose/Taiwan/01042/2015, and H5N8 A/Goose/Taiwan/0103/2015, where the number of confirmed farms has topped 800, raising concerns of a significant increase in North America in the spring.

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