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H5N1 Bird Flu Migrating Through Kazakhstan?

Recombinomics Commentary

April 26, 2006

Ten domestic hens have died from suspected bird flu in a village in central Kazakhstan, an emergency official said Wednesday.

Tests revealed avian influenza antibodies in the dead hens and one live hen and one duck, who belonged to a resident of the village of Krasnaya Niva in the Karaganda region, said Andrei Ermakov, spokesman for the regional emergencies department.

Last month, Kazakhstan recorded its first case of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in a dead swan that was found on the Caspian Sea coast.

Authorities ordered the vaccination of other birds in the coastal area.
The Central Asian nation bordering China has equipped labs and trained experts to conduct preliminary tests of any reported poultry illnesses. The nation had its first detected outbreak of bird flu last July, but it was not the H5N1 strain, which is dangerous to humans.

The above comments raise concerns of early spread of H5N1 through Kazakhstan.  The comments on H5N1 in Kazakhstan last year are in error.  In July H5N1 was detected in Kazakhstan, as well as bordering Russia and Mongolia.  All reported H5N1 outbreaks were the Qinghai strain of H5N1 which has subsequently caused fatal infections in humans in Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Azerbaijan.  Although there have not been any reported human cases in Kazakhstan, Russia, or Mongolia, all of the Qinghai strains of H5N1 are closely related.

The Qinghai strain was first reported in China on May 9, 2005, although the confirmation was in an OIE report of May 21, 2005.  Last year H5N1 was not reported in neighboring Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia until late July.  The report above suggests the antibodies detected were against H5N1 because of the chicken deaths.  This oputbreak may signal an early arrival of H5N1 as birds migrate north to Siberia.

The migration north will also likely lead to detection and reporting of H5N1 in western Europe and North America/

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