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Qinghai Nature Reserve - Overlapping Bird Flu Flyways

Recombinomics Commentary
May 24, 2005

>> Bar-headed Geese which have been banded/ringed at Niao Dao subsequently have been recorded in India (as far west as Karnataka) in the Central Asian Flyway; Cao Hai, Guizhou Province, China in the East Asian Flyway; and Bangladesh, which is in an area where the 2 flyways overlap. There could be potential for future spread of virus between waterfowl populations through mixing on the wintering grounds, thereby facilitating a natural north/west spread of virus through the Central Asian Flyway.  <<

The above description of the bar-headed geese migration paths define some of the areas potentially affected by the H5N1 detected in the Qinghai Lake Nature Reserve.  However, it is located in the overlapping region between the East Asia Flyway and the Central-South Asian Flyway.  The report to the OIE describes 519 dead birds representing five species.  Frequently, H5N1 infections in ducks and geese are asymtomatic, so infected birds can transmit H5N1 throughout the two flyways, which cover virtually all of Asia.  Moreover, the intersection of the two flyways allow for dual infections of H5N1 from diverse regions to generate novel recombinants, which is why each season brings new sequences and new problems.

The deaths of five species over a short time period in a small region ares clearly cause for concern.  China has closed all nature reserves in the country and has begun immunizing birds to the west of the outbreak, strongly implicating bird flu in the Central - South Asian flyway which includes the entire Indian subcontinent, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  Prior to the Tsunami there were birds and people dying in Sri Lanka, which were said to be unrelated.  There have been several myocarditis outbreaks in Sri Lanka, with no reports on H5N1 testing.

Lack of testing in the area, including China, is endemic.  One country that is contained within the overlapping flyways is Bengaladesh, which has recurring health issues and little or no testing.

H5N1 is a global health problem and the global response has been scandalously lacking in almost all areas, including simple testing of unexplained clusters of disease and death

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