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H5N1 Bird Flu Spreads to Tomsk Siberia

Recombinomics Commentary

June 27, 2006

A new outbreak of bird flu has hit the West Siberian region of Tomsk, the local administration said Tuesday.

A representative said a laboratory analysis of fancy pigeons that died in a village last week revealed the deadly virus.

"All the pigeons and chickens from the courtyard have been culled,"

The above description of confirmed H5N1 bird flu in Tomsk provides additional evidence of earlier and more widespread outbreaks in Russia.  Last year the first reports of H5N1 in the Novosibirsk region were in mid-July.  Those reports were followed by H5N1 infections along the southern border with Kazakhstan.  In August there were reports of H5 antibodies in birds in Tomsk.

The finding in Tomsk comes on the heals of a massive outbreak in Tuva, which also failed to report H5N1 last year.  Earlier there were reports of H5N1 in northwestern Russia last month.  These reports suggest H5N1 in Russia is more widespread and will increase in the upcoming months.  Last year the reported cases were in southern Siberia in a region that links flyways to the Indian subcontinent, eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  Less frequent outbreaks were reported in western Europe and there were no reports in the Americas.

Flyways in northern Russia link to western Europe and North America via the East Atlantic fly way.  There are also links to Alaska via the East Asia / Australia flyway.  The H5N1 reported in India over the winter may feed into north eastern Russia, which would link to the outbreak in Tuva.

These early reports of H5N1 in new areas in Russia may be signaling a significant increase in the H5N1 geographical reach and lead to additional expansion in H5N1 bird flu range in the upcoming months

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