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H5 Antibodies in Wild Goose in Northwest Russia
May 6, 2006
H5 bird flu antibodies have been found in the blood of a wild goose shot for testing outside Arkhangelsk, Nikolai Yuferev, the chief expert from the Arkhangelsk regional veterinary department, told Interfax.
The finding of H5 antibodies in northwestern Russia is cause for concern. Although the antibodies could be from low pathogenic avian influenza, the likelihood that it is the Qinghai strain of H5N1 is high. Last year Russia's OIE Mission report described 24 species (wild duck, laughing gull, rook, northern stover, crow, pigeon, sandpiper, oyster catcher, little grebe. black-winged stilt, phalatrope, little tern, pied wagtail, green sandpiper, white headed plover, starling, coot, mallard sparrow hawk, buzzard, turtle dove, garganey, teal) that had H5N1. These birds had also been shot out of the sky by hunters and demonstrated widespread H5N1 in Russia. The report also indicate that testing in sparsely populated regions had been limited, and the H5N1 infections were more common than indicated in the report.
The recent report of H5N1 in two counties in Qinghai province in China also raised the possibility that H5N1 is again migrating to the north. Arkhangelsk is in the East Atlantic Flyway, which connects Russia to North America, as well as western Europe and western Africa. The Qinghai stain of H5N1 has recently been reported in wild geese in both of these regions, further suggesting that the Russia result was linked to H5N1.
The latest data suggests that H5N1 will soon be detected in North America, adding to the global reach of H5N1.