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H5 Positive Geese in Canada Had Fatal Qinghai Symptoms
June 16, 2006
The owner of the birds, who raised them for personal consumption, told authorities he noticed four of his geese were walking oddly on Sunday. The next day he discovered four had died.
He disposed of three but took one for testing to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. The laboratory there confirmed the presence of an H5 virus.
The goose was part of a small, free-range flock of chickens, geese and ducks. Four of 11 geese in the flock were discovered dead on Monday. None of the other birds fell ill at the time but all have since been destroyed as a precautionary measure.
The above comments increase the likelihood that the geese died of H5N1 bird flu. Geese usually are resistant to low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). H5N1 can attack the brain, especially the Qinghai strain since in has PB2 E627K, which is linked to neurotropism. Therefore, geese walking oddly is an indication of H5N1 bird flu infection. Since one of the geese was positive for H5, it is likely that the H5 is H5N1 and all of the dead birds were infected.
The Qinghai strain of H5N1 has never been reported in the Americas. However, prior to the identification of the Qinghai strain in China in May of 2005, none of the countries to the west of China had reported the Asian stain of H5N1. The isolates in Russia, Kazakhtsan, Mongolia, India, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa have reported H5N1 for the first time in the past 12 months.
H5N1 in North America would not be a surprise. North American sequences have previously been identified in Qinghai strains in Astrakhan.