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One Year of Qinghai H5N1 Bird Flu Migration

Recombinomics Commentary

May 7, 2006

The recent reports of H5N1 in bar headed geese in Gangcha and Yushu counties in Qinghai province mark the one year cycle of the spread of the Qinghai strain of H5N1.  Below is a list of OIE reports filed in countries for the first time (with the exception of China) in the past 12 months.  One year ago reported cases of H5N1 were limited to China and countries in Asia to the east and southeast of China. 

The introduction of H5N1 into new countries is chronologically listed below, based on the date of the first outbreak in that country.  The Qinghai H5N1 infections are somewhat larger than listed below because outbreaks in areas near prior H5N1 reports have been excluded because the new outbreaks may be due to another H5N1 strain.  The countries below have reported Qinghai sequences or are adjacent to countries that have reported Qinghai sequences.  Countries reporting Qinghai sequences are in bold.

The initial outbreak started in mid-April, but was first reported on May 9, 2005 and involved 189 bar headed geese at Qinghai Lake.  519 dead birds were described in the May 21 OIE report and the following months there were outbreaks on farms in Xinjiang.  It is likely that many subsequent outbreaks in Xinjiang were the Qinghai strain, but only the Liaoning outbreak has been confirmed as the Qinghai strain.  Human cases in China in late 2005 and early 2006 have been due to the Fujian strain, which was also found in Laos and Malaysia in 2006, so much of eastern Asia has several H5N1 strains co-circulating.

However, the countries listed below are all almost certainly infected with the Qinghai strain.  None of these countries had previously reported an Asian strain of H5N1 and the reports followed the timing and path of migratory birds known t be infected with the Qinghai strain of H5N1.

The data below is from OIE reports, but is clearly an underestimate of the true spread and the number of species infected.  Russia filed an OIE report that included two dozen species that were shot by hunters and were H5N1 positive (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).  In addition, the Minister of Agriculture site indicated there had been H5N1 outbreaks in southern Russia in Astrakhan, Rostov, Kalmykia, Adygeya, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chechnya, and Stavropol.  Moreover, H5N1 was still present in Dagestan, Krasnodar and Volgograd,

Thus, the list below shows where H5N1 has been reported in OIE filings, but the data is more informative about overall surveillance and lack thereof.  The positive reports including a wide range of species that are in countries in the major flyways linked to the massive outbreak in southern Siberia in the summer of 2005.  Because of the number of infected species and number of positive reports, it is likely that adjacent countries are also H5N1 positive and in countries where wild birds are not included, it is likely that those wild birds are also infected.

Countries with the poorest surveillance are those that are adjacent to H5N1 positive countries, but are still deny H5N1 infections.  Also near the bottom of the surveillance list are countries which failed to detect H5N1 in wild birds, even after domestic poultry was H5N1 infected.  Next are countries who could only detect H5N1 in mute swans.  H5N1 is easily detected in mute swans, but the transmission of H5N1 is generally by other species which are migratory.  Next are countries which detected H5N1 in wild birds, but failed to detect H5N1 in healthy wild birds,  The only country to detect H5N1 in healthy wild birds has been Russia.

As H5N1 transmission begin a second season of transmissions, it will be of interest to see how sequences have changed and how easily the infections are detected on the second season of spread.


April 15 China (Qinghai, Xinjiang, Liaoning) bar-headed geese, great black headed gulls, brown headed gulls, ruddy shelducks, great cormorants, geese, ducks

July 15 Russia (Novosibirsk, Altai Territory, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Omsk, Tiumen, Tula, Kalmykia, Astrakhan, Tambov, Krasnodarsky) geese, ducks, turkeys, chickens, wild swans, guinea fowl, Muscovy ducks, quail, wild ducks, crows

July 22 Kazakhstan (Pavlodar, Mangghystau) wild swans, geese

August 2 Mongolia (Alag-Ederne, Saikhan) bar-headed goose, whooper swan

October 1 Turkey (Balikesir, Igdir, Agri, Ankara, Bitlis, Bursa, Ezurum, S. Urfa, Yozgat, Aydin, Erzincan, Istanbul, Van, Ardahan, Batman, Diyarbakir, Elazog, Isparta, Izmir, Karabuk, Karaman, Kars, Konya, Malataya, Mugla, Mus, Samsun, Siirt, Sivas, Gaziantep, Akasaray, Burdur, Sinop, Edirne, Ordu, Rize, Tokat) turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, pigeon, swan, sparrow, cormorant, wild duck, hawk, gull

October 7 Romania (Tulcea, Brailia, Buzau, Calarasi, Constanta, Dambovita, Dolj, Ialomita, Ilfov) laying hens, ducks, pheasant, pigeon, guinea fowl, turkeys, mute swans

October 19 Croatia (Zagreb, Splitsko-Dalmatinska, Osijecko-Baranjska) black headed gulls, swans

November 25 Ukraine (Ukraine, Odessa) chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon, crow, magpie, jay, thrush, cormorant, pochard, owl, falcon, scops owl, pheasant, kestrel, peacock, Niles goose, brent goose, pelican


January 10 Nigeria (Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Bauchi, Federal Capital Territory, Katsina, Nasarawa, Yobe, Anambra, Benuw, River, Jigawa, Lagos, Ogun) poultry layers, broilers, cockerels, ducks, Guinea-fowl, free range birds, wild vulture, ostriches, emus, Chinese geese, black crowned cranes

January 18 Iraq (Sulaimaniyah, Missan) chickens, geese, turkeys, ducks, pigeons

January 27 India (Maharashtra, Gujarat) chickens

January 30 Greece (Central Macedonia) swans

January 31 Bulgaria (Vidin) mute swan

February 1 Italy (Calabria, Puglia, Sicilia, Umbria) mute swans, sultan, buzzard, wild duck

February 4 Hungary (Bacs-Kiskun) mute swans

February 6 Germany (Mechlenburg-Vorpornmern, Mecklemburg-Western Pomerania, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Baden Wurttemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Sachsen) mute swan, whooper swans, goshawk, falcons, wild ducks, gulls, terns, coot, turkeys

February 11 Slovenia (Podravska, Maribor) mute swan, grey heron, northern pintail

February 13 France (Ain) pochards, whooper swans, wild duck, heron, tufted duck, mute swans, buzzard, barnacle goose, great crested grebe

February 13 Austria (Graz-Urngebung) swans

February 16 Albania (Vlore) chicken, turkeys

February 16 Bosnia Herzegovina (Srednjobanski) swans

February 17 Egypt (Cairo, Giza, Menia, Quena, Qualiubia, Behera, Dakahlia, Kabula, Bemi Suef, Kahr el Shiekh, Qina, Fayourn, Dommiata, Sharkia, Louxor, Monifa, Sohag, Alexandrai, Ismailia) chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, breeders, broilers, layers, pigeons, peacocks, migratory birds

February 21 Cameroon (Northernmost) domestic ducks

February 22 Azerbaijan (Khyzy, Biljasuvar, Agdam) poultry, duck

February 22 Iran (Rasht) swans

February 23 Georgia (Adjara) swans

February 23 Niger (Zinder) poultry (all breeds)

February 23 Pakistan (North West Frontier) layer, breeder

February 24 Sweden (Bleking, Sodermanland, Gotland, Kalmar) mallard, tufted ducks, greater scaup

February 26 Switzerland (Geneva, Thurgau, Schaffhausen, Zurich) goosander, tufted duck, common coot, common pochard, little grebe, ducks

March 1 Burkina Faso (Kadiogo) helmeted guineafowl

March 2 Afghanistan (Jalalabad, Kabul, Laghman, Vardak, Kunar) chicken, turkeys, crow

March 2 Poland (Torunski, Gorzowski, Swinoujscie, Torunski, Bydgoski, Grudziadski) wild swans, goosander, hawk

March 9 Seria and Montenegro (Zlatiborski) rooster, mute swan

March 12 Denmark (Storstroem, Bornholm, Frederiksberg, Funen, South Jutland, Western Zealand, North Eastern Zealand) common buzzards, mute swans, rough legged buzzard, tufted ducks, peregrine falcon, greylag goose, great crested grebe, whooper swans,

March 16 Israel (HaDarom, Jesuralem, Jehuda & Samaria, Jerusalem) turkeys, broilers, heavy breeders

March 20 Czech Republic (Southern Bohemia) mute swan

March 21 Palestine Autonomous Territories (Gaza Middle, North, South) layers, breeders, broilers, ducks

March 23 Jordan (Ajloun) turkeys

March 25 Sudan (Khartoum, Gezira) poultry (closed and backyard)

March 30 Cote D’Ivoire (Lagunes) chickens, ducks, sparrow hawk

March 30 United Kingdom (Scotland) whooper swan

April 23 China (Qinghai) bar headed geese, brown headed gull, ruddy shelduck


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