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Bird Flu Migration to Mongolia Confirmed
August 8, 2005
Director of the GAEM P. Dash said a total of 76 swans and wild geese had been found dead near the Erhel Lake in the Hovsgol province since late July but the strain of the bird flu has not been identified.
No humans nor poultries have been infected, Dash said, adding all the contracted were migratory birds.
Although the strain of bird flu has not been identified, the dead migratory geese in a Mongolian reserve north of Qinghai Lake almost certainly indicate the bird flu was H5N1. Many birds that nest or rest at Qinghai Lake spend the summer further north in areas like southern Siberia. In late July wild and domestic bird deaths were also noted in Russia and Kazakhstan and they were H5N1. The description of sequences from nine isolates from Novosibrsk indicated the H5N1 was similar to H5N1 in Vietnam but distinct. That description matches the sequences from the H5N1 isolates from Qinghai Lake.
Birds heading north from Qinghai Lake bifurcate and head to the east and west. The group heading to the west is leaving a trail of dead birds along the southern border of Russia and northern border of Kazakhstan. The dead geese and swans may represent a corresponding eastern trail along the southern birder of Russia and northern border of Mongolia.
The trails of dead birds 800 to 1000 miles to the north of Qinghai Lake indicates that the H5N1 did not burn itself out at Qinhai Lake and instead is being transported by migratory birds. The birds will soon head to the south, spreading H5N1 throughout Asia and Europe.