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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Confirmed in Kalmykiya Near Caspian Sea

Recombinomics Commentary

August 18, 2005

According to the data Of rospotrebnadzora on 17 August, bird influenza is registered in seven subjects RF. These are Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, Tyumen', Omsk, Kurgan provinces, the republic Of kalmykiya and Altai edge.

The confirmation of H5N1 wild bird flu in the Republic of Kalmykiya dramatically moves H5N1 into Europe and the Caspian Sea region. The confirmation also validates the media report last week of bird flu at the Volga Delta (see map).  Since the migration season is just beginning, subsequent waves of H5N1 are expected for the Mediterranean region and the spread will likely extend into Northern Africa and the Middle East.  None of these areas have previously reported HPAI H5N1 genetically linked to Asia, so the explosion of H5N1 recorded in 2004 for Asia will almost certainly be exceeded by the H5N1 explosion in Europe, Africa, and the previously unreported regions of Asia in 2005.

The H5N1 wild bird sequences are distinct from the 2004 H5N1 version being developed worldwide for a pandemic vaccine.  Thus, Russia and Hungary's announced plans to start clinical trials next month will have little chance of limiting infections by the H5N1 wild bird strain.  Although there have been no confirmed human cases, the extended geographical reach would dictate a serious vaccine program targeting the H5N1 wild bird flu.

On a positive note, the M2 ion channel of the Qinghai Lake isolates was wild type, so the virus should be sensitive to amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine).  Similarly, the close relationship between isolates of Qinghai lake and Chany Lake suggests most or all H5N1 wild bird flu versions will be sensitive to both antivirals, which are available in quantity and less expensive than Tamiflu.


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