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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu in Bulgaria?

Recombinomics Commentary

August 28, 2005

In an announcement made by the Bulgarian Ministry of Health on 26th (August), the Northern Bulgarian City (or Town) of Fo-la-cha (literal translation, I did a quick scan of the Bulgarian map. i suspect that it MAY be Vratsa or Fuse that is being referred to) reported the discovery of the Avian Influenza. The European Union has asked Bulgarian authorities to take urgent control measures.

The above translation of a boxun report suggest that H5N1 wild bird flu has been detected in Bulgaria.  Although Bulgaria has been discussed as a possible site of migration of birds infected with H5N1, there have been no clearly confirmed reports.  Several weeks ago dead birds were reported at the mouth of the Volga River at the Caspian Sea and Russia has reported dead birds in Kalmyka, although the cause of death has varied almost daily.

The boxun report would advance bird flu the furthest south and west in Europe.  The birds migrating from the Urals are expected to move into the Caspian, Black, and Mediteranian Sea areas, including northern Africa (see map).  Since the migratory paths cross, the spread can be extensive, especially when the H5N1 jumps from species to species.  One banding study showed a bird from Finland showing up in Texas.

The rapid spread of H5N1 wild bird flu into Europe suggests H5N1 will be worldwide soon.  This global reach increases the likelihood of recombinations, leading to efficient human-to-human transmission, which could generate a pandemic that eclipses 1918.


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