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WHO: Create New Migratory Bird H5N1 Database from Qinghai
June 28, 2005
>> "Dealing with wild birds in China can be used as a model for other countries for prevention and control," Bekedam said.
Some of the recommendations made by the team are
Testing as many species as possible
Tagging and tracking for early warning
Testing "resident" species
Environmental sampling and decontamination.
Protection from wild birds
Testing of horses and pigs
All samples should be sent to Beijing for more advanced tests. <<
The above recommendations by the WHO team visiting Qinghai should provide answers to a number of questions that apply to avian influenza in China and countries worldwide. The birds at Qinghai Lake offer and excellent opportunity to show how H5N1 gets distributed throughout Asia and how new sequences arise. These large nesting colonies offer an opportunity for influenza viruses to exchange genetic information. Although reassorted genes have been noted, recombinant genes have been overlooked. This database will clearly show recombination as the driver of H5N1 evolution and emergence.
The various H5N1 outbreaks in Hong Kong and the subsequent outbreaks throughout Asia in 2004 yielded a large number of samples, although many of the earlier samples were only partial sequences that were missing key sections of genes containing evidence of recombination. The new sequences from the migratory birds will show significant recombination and movement of these novel sequences throughout Asia.
Although there are several examples of recombination in the existing database, the origins of novel sequences has been unknown because the database on migratory birds has been lacking, especially for birds in large reserves in western China such as Qinghai lake.
Parallel studies in migratory birds on Russia, India, Bangladesh, Tibet and Mayanmar should also be conducted. The H5N1 positive bar headed geese nest is some of these areas and they would have H5N1 mixing with other versions of H5N1. The sequences of the 2004 H5N1 isolates at GenBank already show regional differences, and the sequences of the migratory birds will show the origins of these sequences.
The vast majority of polymorphism that appear each season are simply recycled, but the appear to be new mutations because of deficient databases of H5N1 in migratory birds.
As was seen in the SARS outbreak, China has the resources to do extensive isolation and sequencing of viruses. A full database will validate recombinant mechanisms of H5N1 emergence and evolution, which will help prepare for the upcoming pandemic in the fall.