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H5N1 Bird Flu Speads in Afghanistan

Recombinomics Commentary

April 25, 2006

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus has been found in poultry in a fourth Afghan province, a United Nations agency said, adding the disease seemed to be slowly spreading in the country.

Results of tests on 103 samples sent to Italy earlier this month, arrived on Monday and show that Kapisa province to the northeast of the capital, Kabul, is also affected by the disease.

The virus had been found already in samples from birds in Kabul, Logar and Nangarhar provinces.

The above comments describe the spread of H5N1 in Afghanistan.  The spread is not surprising in view of the spread in neighboring Pakistan.  Although some media reports suggest that the initial H5 test results may be a strain other than H5N1, such possibilities are remote.

The Qinghai strain of H5N1 began its worldwide spread almost a year ago at Qinghai Lake in central China.  The HPIA H5N1 killed off about 10% of the world’s population of bar-headed geese and then spread via long range migratory birds into Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.  Prior to last summer none of these countries had reported H5N1 outbreaks.

The H5N1 in southern Russia was cause for concern because the Chany Lake region was at the intersection of flyways that distributed birds to the Indian sub-continent, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  As expected, in the fall H5N1 began to spread into these regions, and by winter had been reported in all areas.  Now birds are beginning to fly back toward the north, leaving a trail of dead poultry.

Further expansion into western Europe and North America is expected, and initial reports of H5 infections will usually be followed by confirmation that the H5 is the Qinghai strain of H5N1.
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