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Israel H5N1 Matches Vaccine Resistant Egyptian Strain

Recombinomics Commentary 18:30
April 14, 2008

Full sequences from a 2008 isolate from Israel, A/chicken/Irsael/1055/2008(H5N1) have been released.  Since Israel has only filed one OIE report on H5N1 in 2008, it is likely that this isolate is from the outbreak near the petting zoo in northern Israel (see satellite map).  The HA sequence from this isolate is closely related to the 2008 sequences released by the National Veterinary Labs (NLQP) in Egypt, which were from vaccinated stocks.

The Egyptian isolates had a large number of non synonymous changes, including the receptor binding domain change M230V.  The changes are also found in the Israeli isolate, which also has N159S, which is adjacent to the change (N158S) that abolished the clade 1 glycosylation site.  However, the Israeli isolate, like other clade 2.2 isolates did not have a glycosylation site at either positions 158 or 159 prior to recent changes at those positions.

The Israeli match with the vaccine resistant strains in Egypt is cause for concern.  That strain was widely detected in Egypt, and has also spread to northern Israel.  The large number of changes highlights the ability of H5N1 to rapidly change and spread to adjacent areas.  The added diversity to the H5N1 gene pool suggests future vaccination measures will be difficult.

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