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H5N1 Bird Flu Confirmed in Scotland

Recombinomics Commentary
April 6, 2006

Experts will confirm a dead swan in Scotland had the killer H5N1 bird flu strain, Sky sources have told Sky News.

The Government is yet to officially reveal test results.

The Scottish Executive confirmed the bird - discovered in the Cellardyke area of Fife eight days ago- had "highly pathogenic H5 avian flu".

The above comments indicate H5N1 will be officially confirmed in Scotland later today.  However, the earlier official announcement of highly pathogenic H5 avian influence is fairly conclusive for H5N1.  All H5 isolates in Asia that have been HPAI have been H5N1 and all isolates in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since the Qinghai strain was reported in July of 2005, have been the Qinghai strain of H5N1.

Thus, there is little doubt that the earlier results will be upgraded to H5N1 when N1 testing is completed.

The spread of H5N1 to Scotland is not a surprise.  H5N1 announcement throughout western Europe have been accumulating for the past few months and likely represent H5N1 migration last fall.  Dead swans are easily noticed and they have recently been the assay of choice to demonstrate H5N1 in Europe, but H5N1 can infect many species, both asymptomatically and fatally.  European countries have not detected H5N1 in healthy wild birds, but detection in dead wild birds have been widespread.

More infections are expected as H5N1 migrates into western Europe from Africa via the East Atlantic flyway.  Those H5N1 sequence may recombine with H1N1 in European swine to produce G228S, which would increase efficiencies of transmission to humans.  However, the number of humans cases in Egypt and Azerbaijan have increased steadily, suggesting that the ability of the H5N1 Qinghai strain to infect humans is also widespread and new cases in western Europe are expected.

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