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H5N1 Spread Into East Atlantic Flyway In Lagos Confirmed

Recombinomics Commentary

April 6, 2006

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in backyard poultry and at a commercial farm in Lagos, Africa's largest city which is home to about 13 million people, health officials said on Thursday.

The latest discovery of the virus hundreds of miles from Nigeria's first infection indicates the disease is defeating measures to contain it and raises the prospect of much wider human contact with infected birds.

The above confirmation of H5N1 bird flu in Lagos, Nigeria is not a surprise.  Media reports of two months ago suggested H5N1 had already migrated into Lagos.  Delays in reporting H5N1 in adjacent Burkina Faso have also been noted.  Although surveillance in these African countries is lagging media reports, the lack of confirmation in most African countries is cause for additional concern.  The number of reported and confirmed human cases in Egypt continues to rise, suggesting human cases linked to the Qinghai strain in other African countries are likely.

Sequence analysis of H5N1 migrating into western Europe via the East Atlantic flyway will likely confirm additional evolution of H5N1 in Africa, Lagos is well into the East Atlantic flyway, which will soon be producing additional H5N1 infections in western Europe and northeastern Canada.

The poor surveillance in Africa is cause for concern.


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