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Rapid H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Spread to Europe

Recombinomics Commentary

August 16, 2005

In Kalmykii is registered the case of poultry, it communicates in the published on Tuesday monitoring Of rospotrebnadzora according to the situation with the "bird influenza" in the territory of Russia. "in the republic Of kalmykiya in the economy of huntsman occurred the case of poultry.

The above machine translation reiterates earlier reports of suspected H5N1 wild bird flu in the republic of Kalmukiya in the North Caucasas section of Russia (see map).  Predictions had been made that eventually H5N1 would reach the Caspian Sea, but the reports of birds dying in Kalmukiya, as well as the Volga Delta, suggest H5N1 wild bird flu has arrived.

Most birds have not migrated south from summer locations in southern Siberia or Qinghai Lake, so the reported cases of H5N1 in Europe and Asia should increase significantly.  The H5N1 wild bird flu represents two closely related strains from Qinghai Lake and Chany Lake.  The predominant species are waterfowl and in the Russian and Kazakhstan outbreaks, ducks and geese have been cited most often.  These are consistent with the outbreaks in China also and suggest similar H5N1 will be seeded throughout Asia, including regions such as Bangladesh and India, where H5N1 infections have never been reported.  Similarly the high pathogenic H5N1 from Asia has not been previously reported in Europe.

The unprecedented spread in 2005 extends the Asia outbreak in 2004, which move H5N1 into many provinces in China as well as countries to its east and south.  The broad geographical distribution of H5N1 increases the likelihood of dual infections leading to recombination, that will produce a pandemic version of H5N1 that is efficiently transmitted from human-to-human.

The early and rapid spread of H5N1 across Asia and into Europe is cause for concern.  The pandemic vaccine under development worldwide is directed against an H5N1 strain from Vietnam.  The large number of amino acid differences between the Vietnam strain and the wild bird flu strains indicates the current vaccine will offer little protection.

The expected continued spread of the wild bird H5N1 should serve as a wake-up call and highlight the lack of pandemic preparedness and the glaring deficiencies in antiviral and vaccine defenses.


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