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Third OIE Report on H5N1 Geese Deaths in Northwestern China

Recombinomics Commentary

June 24, 2005

>> Location No. of outbreaks
Xinjiang (Sinkiang) autonomous region, Changji district, Changji city 1

Total number of animals in the new outbreak:

species susceptible cases deaths destroyed slaughtered
avi 180* 128 63 117 0

* 120 geese and 60 ducks


A. Laboratory where diagnosis was made: National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory (Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences).

B. Diagnostic tests used: RT-PCR(1) and intravenous pathogenicity index test (20 June 2005).

C. Causal agent: highly pathogenic avian influenza virus type H5N1.


A. Source of agent / origin of infection: under investigation.

B. Mode of spread: migratory birds.

Control measures:

- quarantine;

- stamping out (in addition 1,373 birds around the outbreak were destroyed) <<

The above report is the third H5N1 bird flu China report to OIE in less than a month.  All three reports were on H5N1 infections of water fowl in the northwestern provinces of Qinghai and Xinjiang.

The first report was dated May 21 and detailed 519 migratory bird deaths represnting 5 species, including bar headed geese which were first noted on May 4 on Bird Island on Qingahi Lake.  The OIE report was quickly followed by a press conference indication over 1000 birds had died from H5N1 which was unprecedented.  Third part reports indicated over 8000 birds had died representing 13 species of waterfowl.  These deaths were unusual because H5N1 usually does not kill water fowl.

A second report was filed June 8 on domestic geese that had died on a farm near Tacheng in Xingiang Province a few miles from the Kazakhstan border and about 100 miles from borders with Russia and Mongolia.  About have of the geese were H5N1 positive and half of the positives had died.  All of the birds in the town were culled.  The location of the outbreak was along migratory bird flight paths and the outbreak was attributed to migratory birds.

This third report, filed June 20 is similar to the second reported.  The affected population was of ducks and geese.  Over half were infected and half of the infected birds had died.  This farm was located in Changji which is about 30 miles northwest of the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi.  This outbreak was also attributed to migratory birds.

The three H5N1 outbreaks tied to geese dying from migratory birds raises concerns that the H5N1 infections have spread to Kazakhastan, Russia, and Mongolia.  There have also been third party reports suggesting that there have been human cases in these areas, although official reports from China have denied human cases were found.

The rapid spread of H5N1 by migratory birds is cause for concern, which is heightened by the reports of human infections.

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