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Migration of Fujian H5N1 Through Israel?
Recombinomics Commentary 21:07
May 6, 2010

Two Emus that died Thursday in Kibbutz Ein Gedi's menagerie succumbed to a deadly strain of the Avian flu virus, Israel Radio reported.

Ministry of Agriculture tests conducted on the birds identified the nature of the disease. Officials estimated that the Emus were infected by migrating birds.

The above comments confirm H5N1 in an Israel petting zoo.  The suggestion that the Emus were infected by migratory birds raises concerns that the Fujian strain (clade 2.3.2) may have migrated to the Middle East. Earlier this year Israel reported another outbreak of H5N1, which also raised concerns that the Fujian strain had migrated into the area.

A year ago Fujian H5N1 was found in migratory birds at Uvs late, setting the stage for migration south in 2009, and a return in the spring of 2010.  The above infection may signal that migration.

Sequence data on the latest outbreak in Israel would be useful. 

Recently released sequences from human H5N1 cases in Egypt, by NAMRU-3, have been exclusively clade 2.2.1 with 125del (3 BP deletion), which has become fixed in Egypt.  However, these infections may now be linked to human to human transmission, based on the close similarities between sequences.  Poultry sequences in Egypt have also been clade 2.2.1, but poultry sequences have been more diverse and include the vaccine resistant sub-clade. 

However, shared polymorphisms indicate that much of the evolution of H5N1 in Egypt, including the donkey H5N1, has been driven by recombination between clade 2.2.1 sequences in Egypt.

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