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H5N1 Bird Flu Confirmed in Burkina Faso  

Recombinomics Commentary

April 4, 2006

Burkina Faso has detected the dangerous H5N1 strain of bird flu in poultry on the outskirts of its capital Ouagadougou, making the West African country the fifth nation on the continent to report the disease.

"Further to deaths noted in February among poultry and wild birds, 65 specimens from various regions of the country were sent to reference laboratories of the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization," Konate said.

The results, communicated to the former French colony's government on Monday, confirmed the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu strain only at the Ouagadougou motel.

The large number of bird deaths reported previously suggested H5N1 was in Burkino Faso.  The large number of samples testing negative is cause for concern.  Only five countries in Africa have confirmed H5N1, yet the birds deaths and migratory paths are widespread and the number of infected species is large.

Detection of H5N1 is dependent both on surveillance as well as collection and testing methods.  Although Europe has detected H5N1 in dead wild birds, they have yet to detect H5N1 in live wild birds.  Other regions have detected H5N1 in dead or dying poultry, but have not detected H5N1 in wild birds.

However, H5N1 is spreading world wide regardless of testing.  The positive data in Burkingo Faso provides more data suggesting H5N1 is widespread in Africa and is migrating into western Europe and North America via the East Atlantic flyway which goes through western Africa and most of the countries reporting H5N1.

Since Italy confirmed the H5N1, publication of the sequences are likely, although soon similar sequences will be detected in western Europe as the spring migration continues.

More thorough and accurate testing in Africa would be useful to fill out the database of changes in the H5N1 Qinghai strain.

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