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Fujian H5N2 In Missouri  Linked To Wild Birds?
Recombinomics Commentary
March 11, 2015 12:45

Facilities housing birds that have tested positive in Missouri were also found to be in close proximity to water sources, where migratory birds have landed. Further testing of those wildlife is ongoing.

The above comments from the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) avian influenza (AI) page suggests that the two confirmed turkey farm outbreaks (in Asbury and Fortuna) are not epidemiologically linked to each other or the outbreak in Minnesota, but are likely due to migratory birds.  This scenario raises concerns that an explosion of outbreaks in the United States and Canada will be linked to the northern migration of wild birds in the spring of 2015.

The MDA AI page has a flyway map for the Americas which has three defined flyways (Pacific, Mississippi, and Atlantic) which does not include a Central flyway between Pacific and Mississippi.  The simpler map allows for a much wider spread of avian influenza via wild birds migrating within a given flyway because the map has significant overlap between Pacific and Mississippi flyways, including the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, where the first cases of Fujian H5N2 were confirmed in North America, as well as Whatcom County in Washington, were three Fujian H5 serotypes (H5N8, H5N2, H5N1) were found (within 7 miles of the Canadian border).

Sequence data showed that the H5N8 was the parental strain, which was Fujian clade and most closely related to H5N8 found in a crane in Japan in late 2014.  Japan is in the East Asia flyway, which overlaps the Pacific and Mississippi flyways in Alaska and northern Canada.  The H5N2 constellation was formed via the acquisition of 3 North American wild bird influenza segments (PB1, NP, N2) by H5N8, while the H5N1 had a constellation with  4 wild bird flu segments (PB1, PA, N1, NS).

Although North American wild bird surveillance failed to identify Fujian H5 prior to the commercial farm outbreak in Fraser Valley in early December, subsequent enhanced surveillance quickly found H5N2 in a Northern Pintail collected at a die-off in Wiser Lake followed by H5N8 in captive gyrfalcons who ate a wigeon captured near Wiser Lake.  Shortly thereafter H5N1 was found in an American Green-winged Teal near Sumas in Whatcom County. 

The enhanced surveillance targeted locations in the western US, which contributed to the failure to detect Fujian H5 in Midwestern states, where H5N2 has been detected at turkey farms in Minnesota and Missouri (see H5N2 map) and is suspected in Arkansas.

These turkey deaths in the above Midwestern states have led to increased surveillance in wild birds in the Mississippi flyway, including a dead red-tailed hawk in Minnesota

It is likely that the number of H5 positives will explode in wild bird and farm populations throughout the US Midwestern states, as well as much of Canada.

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