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H5N1 Bird Flu in Tibet

Recombinomics Commentary

August 10, 2005

The deadly bird flu virus has been found in the Chinese region of Tibet, the director general of the world animal health body OIE said on Wednesday.

"We just received the information that bird flu has been detected in Tibet," OIE director-general Bernard Vallat told Reuters.

He said virus was likely the H5N1 strain

As noted above, although the strain has not been determined, it will almost certainly be related to the H5N1 at Qinghai Lake.  The largest number of dead birds in May was the bar-headed geese that migrate from northern India to Qinghai Lake in the spring and are now heading back to India, passing over Tibet.  Thus, the bird flu in Tibet is likely to be H5N1, and H5N1 is likely to also be in India.

The H5N1 I the migratory birds is associated with fatal infections in geese, which have been reported in Xinjiang and Qinghai provinces in China as well as several regions in northern Kazakhstan, southern Russia, and Mongolia.

The latest report predict that H5N1 will soon spread throughout all of Asia, most of Europe, and possibly worldwide in the next several weeks. This spread threatens to turn the entire world into an endemic region for H5N1 as has happened in southeast Asia and parts of China.  Moreover. The arrival of these new sequences will lead to dual infections and additional recombination, further destabilizing the H5N1 gene pool. 

The H5N1 at Qinghai Lake has already evolved away from the pandemic vaccine under development worldwide.  Russia is planning on testing their vaccine in affected regions, but those regions will continue to spread and the vaccine made worldwide will not be effective against the H5N1 exploding in Asia.

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