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H5N1 Similarity in Chicken and Swine in Shandong China

Recombinomics Commentary
June 3, 2005

The sequences of three genes, HA, NA, NP from a 2002 isolate, A/chicken/China/1/02(H5N1), from a chicken in Shandong Province has been placed on deposit at GenBank.  The sequences of all three genes are most closely related to the 2003 isolate, A/swine/shandong/2/03(H5N1), from a swine in Shandong Province.  The swine sequence was closely related to H5N1 isolates from several provinces in China, raising the possibility of more H5N1 infections in swine and the potential to recombine to expand the host range of H5N1.

These data are similar to the data for the H5N1 sequences isolated in swine in Indonesia.  The H5N1 positive swine were near H5N1 positive chickens and the sequences were similar.  A recent report to OIE on the H5N1 in swine supported the declaration that H5N1 was endemic to Indonesia, and the detection in asymptomatic pigs was cause for concern.

The concerns have be increased by the unprecedented die off of birds in Qinghai Lake.  The OIE report detailed 519 deaths in five species, but this report was flowed by reports of over 1000 deaths followed by reports of over 8000 deaths in birds and mammals.  Coinciding with the animal reports are reports of the deaths of 6 tourists and 121 residents in 18 villages in and around Gangcha County in Qinghai Province.

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