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Fujian H5N2 Media Myth On Atlantic Flyway Spread
Recombinomics Commentary
April 27, 2015 14:00

Wetlands International Map

Dr. John Clifford: Well you know from my perspective, I don't know if I'm forecasting anything for the fall. I would hope that we wouldn't see any more. However, because the fact that this virus has seemed to have adapted itself pretty well for the wild water fowl, and the fact that we've seen it already in three of the flyways, and including Ontario Canada now has had two cases which I guess there's some question whether it's in the Atlantic or Mississippi flyway.

But regardless, you know these birds, they don't just stay in one flyway. There's some crossover and mixing of these, especially in the northern part of the hemisphere here.

And so we would anticipate, if we see the virus again in the fall, that we're likely to see it all four flyways.

The above comments from the USDA / CDC presser on April 22 acknowledge that the H5N2 bird flu in Ontario, Canada may be in the Atlantic Flyway.  Flyway designations by Wetland International, (see aove map) which are also used by FAO, uses three flyways in the Americas (Pacific, Mississippi, and Atlantic), which have considerable overlap, reflecting potential mixing and movement of viruses from one flyway to another.  The above map shows that the Pacific and Mississippi flyways overlap with the east Asian flyway, allowing for movement of Fujian clade H5N8 from Asia to North America, which then gave rise to two subsequent hybrids, H5N2 and H5N1, which acquired 3 or 4 North American wild bird flu genes, respectively, including a North American N gene leading to three distinct serotypes with the same Fujian H5.

Consequently, all three serotypes are HPAI for poultry but also have an H5 that has been causing human fatal cases in Asia since 2005 as H5N1 and H5N6.

The confusion of the flyway designation is generated by the four administrative flyways used by the USDA.  These flyways have no overlap, so the cluster of H5N2 outbreaks which have exploded in the Midwest are classified as Central when infected farms are in the Dakotas or Kansas, but designated as the Mississippi Flyway for the other Midwestern States where H5N2 has been confirmed.

In contrast, the above flyway indicates most of the Pacific Flyway outbreaks are in the overlapping region between the Pacific and Mississippi Flyways, while some of the Midwestern outbreaks are in the overlapping region between  the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways (see H5N2 map).

However, all three outbreaks in Ontario are well into the non-overlaping are of the Atlantic Flyway, raising concerns of more outbreaks in the Atlantic Flyway in the spring in additional to fall infections when the southern migration begins.

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