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Widespread H5N1 Bird Flu Migration in Western Europe

Recombinomics Commentary

May 11, 2006

Letschin / Maerkisch-Oderland / BB* / White Stork / 3 May 2006
Harburg / Danube-Ries / Bavaria / Swan / 2 May 2006
Molfsee / Rendsburg-Eckernfoerde / SH** / Crested Grebe / 2 May 2006
Denklingen / Landsberg on the Lech / Bavaria / Merganser / 28 Apr 2006
Parkstetten / Straubing (town) / Bavaria / Mute Swan / 28 Apr 2006
Kirchroth-Nierachdorf / Straubing (town) / Bavaria / Mute Swan / 26 Apr 2006
Kirchroth-Muenster / Town of Straubing / Bavaria / Mute Swan / 26 Apr 2006
Letschin / Maerkisch-Oderland / BB / White Stork / 26 Apr 2006
Bautzen (Neumalsitz) / Bautzen / Saxony / Wild Duck / 26 Apr 2006

The above list of wild birds in Germany recently testing positive for H5N1 bird flu provides additional positive data that H5N1 is widespread throughout Europe.

The list of H5N1 positive birds in Denmark, between March 14 and May 2

26 Tufted ducks (_Aythya fuligula_)
6 Common buzzards (_Buteo buteo_)
4 Mute swans (_Cygnus olor_)
3 Whooper swans (_Cygnus cygnus_)
1 Peregrine falcon (_Falco peregrinus_)
1 Rough-legged buzzard (_Buteo lagopus_)
1 Greylag goose (_Anser anser_)
1 Great crested goose (_Podiceps cristatus_)

provides more evidence of H5N1 migrating through Europe, and is in marked contrast to the negative data announced by the Wetlands International, who collected 7500 samples in Africa and failed to find one H5N1 positive bird.  There was no mention of the detection of 100’s or 1000’s of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), which would have been expected from testing 7500 wild bird samples. 

The results in Africa were similar to the DEFRA results in Britain where a similar number of birds were tested and a single H5N1 positive was found.  Genetic information for two LPAI was found, but no virus was isolated.  The failure to detect or isolate LPAI in 7500 collections over multiple months indicates the collection and/or testing of the samples was fatally flawed, generating many more false negatives than true positives.

Avian influenza is common in wild birds.  Studies in Canada found H5 in 24% of healthy young mallards collected in British Columbia in August, 2005.  Low path H5 (H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N9) was also found in other Candian provinces tested.  There are 16 H serotypes and 9 N serotypes, creating 144 possible serotypes.  All known serotypes have been isolated from wild birds, which generally have an LPAI positive rate of 1-10%.  2005 LPAI from wild birds in Alaska have also been collected. Negative data on H5N1 from thousands of wild bird samples are meaningless without the detection of  100’s or 1000’s of LPAI to validate the collection / screening process.

The positive data above from Germany and Denmark, as well as additional countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, leaves little doubt that wild birds in all areas were H5N1 positive in the winter, and wild birds are transporting and transmitting H5N1 in the spring.  Recent outbreaks of H5N1 in three regions in Russia and two counties in Qinghai Province in China provide additional positive data for H5N1 migration through several continents.

The negative data cited by wildlife conservation groups assisting FAO remains highly suspect, and these groups have been citing their negative data on H5N1 since they conducted tests in Mongolia last August, where H5N1 was also confirmed.  Thus, in 12 months of generating thousands of negative data points, they have yet to publish the 100’s or 1000;s of LPAI that would have been detected if appropriate collection and testing methods were used.  The publication of the negative data, without appropriate controls, by the New York Times / International Herald Tribune and National Geographic remains highly misleading to an uneducated and misinformed readership.

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