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H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads South in Nigeria Into East Atlantic Flyway

Recombinomics Commentary

March 7, 2006

Nigeria's epidemic of a deadly form of bird has spread south and infected poultry in three more states, Information Minister Frank Nweke said in a statement.

A highly pathogenic form of avian influenza has been identified in the town of Idemili in Anambra State, 500 kilometres south of Abuja, in Oturpo in the central state of Benue and in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

The above comments confirm earlier reports that H5N1 has migrated south in Nigeria into the East Atlantic Flyway.  The earlier report, almost a month ago, described H5N1 movement into Lagos.  At the time. The nrew outbreaks were not officially reported.  In Nigeria's OIE map, the areas to the south were called "free states".  The above description indicates H5N1 has spread well beyond the areas cited in the recent map.

Movement to the south places H5N1 in the East Atlantic flyway, suggesting that H5N1 will soon be migrating back into Western Europe and North America.  These regions already have indigenous H5N1 from earlier migrations, and the introduction of new sequences will create new problems.

The sequences from recent isolates have not been made publicly available, which limits analysis.  Sequences from Europe are sequestered in a WHO private database.  These sequences should be released immediately and in advance of the migration of sequences from Africa.


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