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Fujian H5N1 in Japan and South Korea Match
Recombinomics Commentary 18:43
May 21, 2008

Scientists have confirmed that the avian influenza (AI) viruses found in Korea and Japan this year are genetically almost identical, supporting the hypothesis that the AI viruses spread through migratory birds.

Kim Ki-suk, chairman of the National Veterinary Research Quarantine Service's quarantine committee said that an AI virus sample taken in Gimje, North Jeolla Province and a sample taken in Japan's Akida Prefecture were genetically 99-point-seven percent identical.

The results are believed to support the hypothesis that the AI viruses were spread to both Korea and Japan by winter migratory birds that were returning from Southeast Asia.

The above comments confirm that the H5N1 in wild birds in Japan is almost identical to the H5N1 on farms in South Korea. This identity was not unexpected, since Korea had acknowledged that the H5N1 on Korea was clade 2.3.2, which was also true for the two sequences released by Japan.  However, the other seven gene segments in the isolates from Japan were most closely related to clade 2.3.4 isolates from wild birds in Hong Kong or a patient from Guangdong.  If the 99.7% identity applies to all eight gene segments, then the H5N1 in Korea is also a reassortant.

This confirmation supports widespread Fujian (clade 2.3) in wild birds in Korea and Japan, which suggest a major global expansion of this clade is in progress.

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