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Uvs Lake H5N1 Migration Into Nigeria
Recombinomics Commentary 14:04
August 14, 2008

Tests conducted at the laboratory confirmed that the virus from Gombe closely resembles the virus isolated from wild birds in Central Europe (Romania and the Czech Republic ) in 2007.

The above comments clarify the clade 2.2.3 H5N1 recently reported for Nigeria.  The FAO press release compared the recent isolates to the sequences from 2006/2007 clade 2.2.3 isolates from Italy, Afghanistan, and Iran.  Since these earlier isolates were all clade 2.2.3 it seemed likely that the isolates would be the Uvs Lake strain which flew into Kuwait in early 2007 and spread throughout central Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, and France) in the summer of 2007, followed by more locations in Europe and the Middle East in late 2007 / early 2008.  The above mentioned isolates in the Czech Republic represent Uvs Lake isolates in the summer, while Romania represents Uvs Lake in the fall.

Thus, the spread of Uvs Lake to eastern Africa was not unexpected, and the comparison top 2006 sequences is curious.  The FAO press release once again tried to link the outbreak to trade and ignore the fact that the sequences were commonly found in wild birds.  The sequences were first identified in a massive wild bird outbreak in the summer of 2006 and involved wild birds at Uvs Lake, the largest lake in Mongolia, as well as wild birds in Tyve, Siberia, which is just north of the lake.

The press release was yet another example of FAO’s denial of the role of wild birds in the transport and transmission of H5N1 clade 2.2 into more than 50 countries west of China, include those in south Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.  All isolates reported to date are clade 2.2 including the 2.2.3 sub-clade in Nigeria.  The Uvs Lake strain is within the 2.2.3 sub-clade, and is readily distinguished by the isolates in the FAO press release.  The curious use of these earlier isolates in the FAO press release is yet another example of the FAO’s state of denial, since the clade 2.2,3 identified in Nigeria is firmly linked to outbreaks tied to wild birds in Asia and Europe.

In the FAO press release, the lack of association with the upcoming migration is the same argument that was used when there was an outbreak in Europe in the summer of 2007, when there was little long range migration.  However, the H5N1 in wild birds in the Czech Republic, Germany, and France indicated the surveillance had missed the earlier arrival of clade 2.2.3, which was repeated in Africa this year.

The clade 2.2.3 in Nigeria was recently detected, but the earlier arrival was missed because of poor surveillance, which is far less robust in Nigeria than western Europe, which also failed to detected the Uvs Lake strain prior to the outbreak in wild birds a year ago.

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