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H5N1 Bird Flu in Israel?  

Recombinomics Commentary

March 16, 2006

Health Ministry spokeswoman Inbal Jacobs said there was a suspicion that the H5N1 virus may have infected birds at two communities in southern Israel.

1,000 birds were found dead in the area of the Negev Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and veterinary officials were meeting urgently to discuss the situation.

The Israeli Vetrinary Service said that initial results indicated that the birds had died from avian flu, though it had not yet been determined if they were infected with the feared H5N1 strain of the virus.

The above comments suggest H5N1 bird flu has been detected in Israel.  Confirmation of H5N1 would no be a surprise.  Last year a worker in Israel had initially tested positive for H5.  Although he had occupational exposure to wild birds, but the initial positive data was not confirmed.

More recently H5N1 has been confirmed in Iraq, Iran, and Egypt, indicating H5N1 has spread throughout the Middle East.

H5N1 in the Middle East is of concern because H9N2 sequences in domestic poultry in Israel have donor sequences for the formation of S227N via recombination with the Qinghai strain of H5N1.  S227N has been detected in the index case in Turkey, although it was not in the H5N1 HA sequence from the index case in Iraq.

An Israeli citizen in Haifa is in isolation, raising concerns that H5N1 has caused human illness in another country in the Middle East.

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