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Fujian H5N1 In Wild Birds
Recombinomics Commentary

August 17, 2006

"We are aware that there is a lot of trade still going on, mainly smuggling, of course, of chicken and poultry products," said Diderik de Vleeschauwer, FAO spokesman in Bangkok. "The movement and trade of animals and poultry products is the main reason for the spreading of disease."

He added that migratory birds are not to blame because they are not on the move in Southeast Asia this time of year. The strain also is unique to southern China and had not previously been found elsewhere, de Vleeschauwer said.

The above comments on the Fujian strain of H5N1 bird flu in Thailand are in error.  Sequences of H5N1 in Malaysia and Laos were made public in March, 2005, A/chicken/Malaysia/935/2006(H5N1) and A/duck/Laos/3295/2006(H5N1).  The H5N1 in Laos was isolated on 02/22/2006.

More recently, Hong Kong also released sequences from wild birds and poultry in the Hong Kong area, A/chicken/Hong Kong/947/2006(H5N1),  A/Common Magpie/Hong Kong/645/2006(H5N1), A/Japanese White Eye/Hong Kong/1038/2006(H5N1), A/Munia/Hong Kong/2454/2006(H5N1).  These data indicated the Fujian strain was widespread in China and Southeast Asia.

Sequences have also appeared in isolates from Indonesia, indicating the Fujian strain is co-circulating with various strains of H5N1 in the area and transferring genetic information via recombination and dual infections..

The lack of knowledge on reported Fujian sequences, including its presence in wild birds is cause for concern.

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