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H7N3 in Rhode Island
Recombinomics Commentary 20:44
August 21, 2008

A strain of avian influenza (bird flu) has been detected in a small number of mute swans collected from the Seekonk River during routine surveillance performed by the Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish & Wildlife.

The swans were caught near the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, and subsequently tested by the USDA.

Four of the eleven birds were found to be infected with the H7N3 strain of the avian influenza virus.

The above comments describe the confirmation of H7N3 in Rhode Island.  Although H7 outbreaks are reportable, an OIE report has not yet appeared, and the media reports do not indicate if the H7N3 is high or low path.

Reports of H7 outbreaks in the US have become more common.  The most recent was in wild birds in Arkansas.  Initially only antibodies were detected, but low path H7N3 was subsequently isolated.

In addition, H7N3 sequences from Delaware and Maryland have been deposited at Genbank, but have not yet been released (see list of 2006 and 2007 isolates here). H7N3 has also been reported in Canada last year.

H7 outbreaks are frequently linked to human infections, although such cases are usually mild.  A more aggressive case was identified in New York in 2002, but that infection involved H7N2.  Most of the H7N3 cases have been linked to eye infections.

More information on the pathogenicity of these isolates would be useful.

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