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Fujian H5N8 In Hungary Raises Migration Concerns
Preliminary results suggest that the sequences are very closely related to the Asian and also to the four European H5N8 HPAI virus sequences reported so far. Whole genome sequencing is in progress.
The above comments from the February 25 OIE report describe the confirmation of Fujian clade 22.214.171.124 H5N8 on a duck fattening farm in Füzesgyarmat, Hungary. This is the first H5N8 report for eastern Europe (see H5N8 map) and may signal the start of migration of wild birds back towards Siberia and Mongolia.
H5N8 was initially reported in Germany in November, 2014, followed by The Netherlands, England, and Italy. Sequence analysis showed that all were Fujian clade 126.96.36.199 which had evolved from a sequence, A/wigeon/Sakha/1/2014, identified in Russia for a wigeon which had been shot in September, 2014. The wigeon sequence traced back to the H5N8 in South Korea in early 2014.
In December, 2014 Canada reported an outbreak of H5N2, which also had a Fujian clade 188.8.131.52 H5. A closely related H5N2 sequence, as well as H5N8 and H5N1, were found in wild birds in Watcom County, Washington, which is adjacent to the British Columbia outbreak in Fraser Valley.
Sequence analysis indicated the North American H5N8 sequence were most closely related to a crane sequence in Japan, A/crane/Kagoshima/KU1/2014, and the H5N2 and H5N1 sequences were reassortants formed by H5N8 which had acquired North American wild bird sequences to produce rations of 5/3 and 4/4, respectively.
Similarly, Taiwan reported a massive outbreak affecting geese, duck and chicken farms involving three serotypes (H5N8, H5N2, and H5N3), which also involved an H5N8 closely related to the crane sequence. The reassortants in Taiwan had ratios of 6/2, 4/4, 2/6, respectively for the H5N8 sequences and Asian wild birds.
Thus, these outbreaks in Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and North America are linked to two H5N8 sub-clades which were carried by wild birds which transported the H5N8 and gave rise to the reassortants in Taiwan and North America.
The appearance of H5N8 in Hungary in late February raises concerns that the spread in the spring of 2015 will mimic the spread of Qinghai Clade 2.2 H5N1 in the spring of 2006. In the summer of 2005 the Qinghai strain spread from China to Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia followed by spread to eastern Europe in the fall. In the winter human cases were reported in Turkey, Iraq, and Azerbaijan followed by cases in Egypt, Djibouti, and Nigeria in the spring.
The number of countries reporting H5N1 bird flu in the spring of 2006 was much higher than the fall of 2005, and the report of H5N8 in Hungary may represent an explosion of cases in the spring of 2015.
However, this spread would include North America, as wild birds migrate to northern Canada and Alaska.