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Fujian H5N1Bird Flu Spread to Hong Kong

Recombinomics Commentary

August 10, 2006

Earler this year there were reports of H5N1 bird flu in various wild birds in Hong Kong.  Today the sequences of those isolates were released at Los Alamos.  The released sequences were from poultry and wild bird isolates.  All HA sequences were 98-99% identical with the Fujian strain of H5N1 which had been reported in patients in China in 2005 and 2006.

In addition, H5N1 sequences from Laos and Malaysia were also released earlier and those sequences were also closely related to the sequences from the patients in China.  The HA sequence has a novel cleavage site which is missing a K.  H5N1 sequences from China missing a K in the HA cleavage site have been reported since late 2003.  These sequences have bee frequently found in Hunan and Fujian province as well as the quarantined birds in England.

However. most of these isolates have a slightly different gene sequence, although the sequence of the cleavage site is the same, RERRRKR.  The Fujian bird isolate, A/Duck/Fujian/1734/05 however, has the genetic match for the human sequences.  This genetic match is also in the sequences from Laos, Malaysia, and the newly deposited sequences from Hong Kong (see list below).

The widespread presence of the Fujian sequence in China, Hong Kong, and southeast Asia is cause for concern.  New bird and human cases are being reported in Thailand, and bird outbreaks have recently been reported in Laos and Vietnam.

More information on the sequences of these isolates would be useful.  Indonesia is also reporting new outbreaks in birds and humans.  However, the human cases have a novel HA cleavage site, RESRRKKR, which does not match the Fujian sequence or any other public sequence, including the sequences deposited today from the lab in Australia,

ISDN184026  A/chicken/Hong Kong/947/2006                      2006  H5N1  
ISDN138756  A/chicken/Malaysia/935/2006                          2006  H5N1  
ISDN184030  A/Common Magpie/Hong Kong/645/2006     2006  H5N1  
ISDN138780  A/duck/Laos/3295/2006                                    2006  H5N1  
ISDN184028  A/Japanese White Eye/Hong Kong/1038/06  2006 H5N1  
ISDN184024  A/Munia/Hong Kong/2454/2006                       2006  H5N1  
DQ643809     A/Zhejiang/16/2006                                            2006  H5N1  
DQ371928     A/Anhui/1/2005                                                   2005  H5N1  
DQ371929     A/Anhui/2/2005                                                   2005  H5N1  
DQ095629     A/Duck/Fujian/1734/05                                      2005  H5N1  
DQ371930     A/Guangxi/1/2005                                               2005  H5N1 

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