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H5N1 Bird Flu in Michigan
Recombinomics Commentary

August 14, 2006

White House press secretary Tony Snow has announce a press conference of H5N1 in mute swans in Michigan.  His comments indicated it was low pathogenic avian influenza and is likely to have strong relationship to the H5N1 detected in Manitoba last August.  The H5N1 was part of an expanded surveillance program across southern Canada.  H5 was detected across Canada and was found in 24% of young mallards tested in British Columbia.

To date, only one sequence, A/mallard/BC317/2005(H5N2), has been published, which was from an H5N1 in British Columbia.  Although the isolate was low path, it had polymorphsims found in H1N1 Canadian swine.  Today, a Qinghai H5N1 sequence from a cat in the Ukraine, A/cat/Dagestan/87/06(H5N1) also shares a polymorphism with the Canadian isolate from 2005.

Recently H5 was also detected in a dead goose on Prince Edward Island.  The H5 was not isolated, but dead waterfowl are a characteristic of Qinghai H5N1.

Thus, today's announcement may seem reassuring, because the H5 was detected.  However, the H5N1 has been widespread for over a year, and the low pathogenic H5 can easily recombine with high pathogenic H5N1. which is dramatically extending its geographical reach.

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