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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu in Rovaniemi Finland?

Recombinomics Commentary

August 28, 2005

"On Saturday, they say that also  in Rovaniemi  dead gulls were to be sent to  (  some medical institute Im not familiar comment not theirs ) in Oulu due to suspicious disease."

The above translation of a Finnish report identifies additional dead gulls in Rovaniemi, which is just north of Qulu, Finland.  Influenza A has been detected in dead gulls in Oulu and these birds are undergoing additional testing in Finland and Great Britain.

Although reports are accompanied by comments that birds can be infected with many influenza sero-types, the large number of dead birds in Qulu, strongly implicates H5N1.  Most avian influenza subtypes do not kill migratory waterfowl.  Indeed, lethal H5N1 from patients in Vietnam only cause mild symptoms in experimental ducks and 70% of the waterfowl in Vietnam is H5N1 positive.

The ability of H5N1 to kill waterfowl was an unusual property associated with H5N1 wild bird flu from Qinghai Lake, where over 6000 waterfowl died.  Most were bar headed geese, but gulls were also frequently killed by the H5N1 isolated there. 

In Oulu three species of gulls were identified and Russia has warned that migratory birds from northern Siberia would begin migrating around August 20, and could bring more H5N1 to southern Siberia.  The birds from northern Siberia also migrate to Europe and North America, so finding H5N1 in northern Finland at this time is not surprising.

H5N1 is clearly extending its geographical range, and may be spread worldwide in the upcoming months (see map).

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