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Germany Prepares For H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Migration
September 8, 2005
Two German state governments have issued orders to keep poultry inside pens in some areas to prevent bird flu being spread by migrating wild birds.
The states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia have both issued orders that farmers keep poultry inside from September 15 in several parts of their regions used by especially large numbers of migratory birds.
There are fears that wild birds could spread bird flu from parts of Russia and Central Asia where it has broken out.
Germany's plan to take precautions against H5N1 wild bird flu is a wise one. H5N1 was reported in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia for the first time in July and August. Since there is little data to suggest that various waterfowl species cannot be infected with H5N1, the potential for spread by many species of waterfowl is possible.
Since H5N1 evolves via recombination, tracing of sequences acquired in the past is a good indicator of future recombinations, and the H5N1 from Qinghai Lake in China and Chany Lake in Russia clearly are closely related to each other and have acquired polymorphisms found in isolates from Europe.
Although full sequences from Chany Lake have not been published, all of the Qinghai Lake sequences have three polymorphisms found in European swine. In addition, the H5N1 from Qinghai Lake has polymorphisms shared with H5N2 isolates from northern Europe.
Therefore as the number of birds migrating from Siberia to Europe increases, the likelihood of H5N1 infections in birds that come into contact with migratory birds will also increase. Although Russia and Kazakhstan culled local poultry to contain H5N1 spread on the ground, there was little that could be done with H5N1 in the air.
Outbreaks in Europe in the upcoming weeks are expected, and Germany's decision to take precautions is a wise one.