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Bird Flu in Wild Birds in North America in 2005
May 11, 2006
Recent reports of failures to detect H5N1 bird flu in Britain and Africa have raised serious concerns about collection and testing methodologies. In each report, about 7500 birds were tested and from the 15,000 birds, a single H5N1 positive was detected in Scotland. The DEFRA screening in Britain listed the date and number of birds tested. Only two birds were positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) and attempts to isolate virus failed from those two birds failed. These data raised concerns about storage methodologies, which allow the swabs to dry out, reducing the likelihood of detection or isolation of HPAI or LPAI. The report from Africa does not mention LPAI detection, creating significant credibility issues.
Failure to detect or isolate LPAI is of concern because avian influenza (bird flu) is common in wild birds. LPAI H5 was readily detected throughout southern Canada when August, 2005 collections from young mallards were tested.
Listed below are a number of LPAI isolates from North America collected between August and December 2005 that are being submitted by Ohio State for whole genome sequencing at The Institute for Genome Research as part of the NIAID flu blueprint project.. Although it remains unclear why H5 was not identified in the United States, because many of the H5 positive birds in Canada would have been expected to migrate into the United States, the listing below does highlight the fact that LPAI in wild birds in 2005 is common.
A listing of LPAI detected in the 7500 wild birds in Africa would be useful.
A/white winged scoter/Maryland/301/2005(H11N9)