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H5N1 Bird Flu in Penguins in Antarctica?

Recombinomics Commentary
April 1, 2006

WARNING: Some reports indicate that the report below was an April1 hoax published by a Reunion newspaper.

The discovery of two corpses of penguins at the beginning of the week on l’île of the Possession threw the disorder in the scientific community of the base Alfred-Faure. The first analyses carried out on the spot reveal a strong suspicion of aviary influenza.

the last rotation of Marion-Dufresne which had left the Meeting on last 19 March to supply the southern Lands and the Antarctic Frenchwoman (TAAF), complete equipment of molecular biology had been delivered to l'équipe of Professor Chauron who undertakes research on the penguins of the sub-antarctic French islands for the account of l'OMS... The results of the first analyses are relatively worrying. Traces of virus H5N1 were insulated in the low part of l'appareil digestive of these marine birds.

The above comments suggest penguins in Antarctica are fatally infected with H5N1.  Confirmation of these results would be cause for concern.  Antarctica is relatively close to South America, Africa, and Australia, offering easy access for worldwide spread of H5N1 as the host range and geographical reach continue to expand.

More details on the initial results would be useful.  If H5N1 is isolated, sequence data would be revealing.

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