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H5 Confirmed in Pakistan

Recombinomics Commentary

February 27, 2006

Pakistan has detected H5-type bird flu in chickens on two poultry farms and tests are underway to determine if the virus is the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, officials said.

'We have found H5-infected birds at two farms at Charsadda and Abbottabad districts in North West Frontier Province and requested the owners to cull all the birds,' Agriculture Ministry spokesman Mohammad Afzal said.

'We have not ruled out that it is H5N1 but it appears to be a low pathogenic strain,' he said.

Although the above comments suggest the H5 in Pakistan is a low pathogenic strain, the time and location of the outbreak, coupled with bird deaths in the area suggest it is HPAI H5N1. Earlier media reports had indicated 1000's of chickens as well as hundreds of wild birds had died in the area last week.  LPAI H5 is no usually fatal to wild birds and doesn't kill 1000's of chickens.

India has confirmed H5N1 to the south and H5N1 has been previously identified at Qinghai Lake in China.  The Qinghai outbreak has spawned a large number f outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (see map) and many wild birds migrate to the south in the winter.

The N sero-type as well as sequence data would be useful.  At this time the cumulative evidence suggests the H5 in Pakistan is H5N1.
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