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H5N1 Bird Flu in Aksu Xinjiang

Recombinomics Commentary

July 21, 2006

China has announced it had killed nearly 400,000 chickens in the far northwest of the country to control a fresh outbreak of bird flu.

The outbreak was discovered on July 14 in Aksu city, Xinjiang region, when 3,045 chickens were found dead, the agriculture ministry said in a brief statement on its website on Friday. .
Since then 356,976 chickens have been killed as part of emergency measures to contain the outbreak,

The above comments suggest that the H5N1 Qingahi strain of bird flu is expanding into new areas.  Initial reports of H5N1 infections this spring in China were similar to 2005 (see map) in timing, but somewhat to the south in location.  Although H5N1 was detected at Qinghai Lake in May, most of the H5N1 positive bar headed geese were near the southern border of Qinghai Province and the adjacent northern region of Tibet.

These reports were followed by outbreaks to the west in Xingiang province, as happened in 2005.  However, these reports were further to the south.  The report above extends this trend.  Asku city is only about 50 miles from the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.  Moreover, the outbreak is only a few hundred miles from borders with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.  H5N1 has previously been reported in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, but the latest report from China suggests unreported H5N1 is also in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

This added spread is also being reported in Russia, where H5N1 has again been detected in the areas near Chany Lake, but also to the east in a massive die-off in Tuva.  These data suggest significant levels of H5N1 in a wider area, and suggest additional recombinants will be flying south in a few months as the northern regions begin to cool.

These new sequences are expected to create new problems.

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