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More H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Confirmation in Tomsk Region In Russia

Recombinomics Commentary

Septemeber 9, 2005

Based on the results received from the Novosibirsk interregional veterinary laboratory genetic material of AI type H5 was found in four samples taken from wild ducks that were delivered August 30 (Kolpashevsky, Verkhneketsky, Krivosheinsky, Tomsky district).

The above update on H5N1 wild bird flu in Tomsk in southern Siberia confirms earlier reports of H5 antibodies in a number of wild birds in the same from regions described above.  However, even though the number of laboratory confirmed samples continue to increase, these results are not included in the official reports from Russia, which currently update detection in six regions (Novosibirsk, Altai, Monsk, Tyumen, Kurgen, and Chelyabinsk).

Although there are no reports of domestic poultry infections in Tomsk, the H5N1 is clearly circulating in the wild bird population.  The wild bird infections are of particular importance to countries that host the birds in the fall and winter.  Migration has started and the level of H5N1 in Russia is underestimated in official reports, which appear to focus on regions where domestic poultry infections have been confirmed.

This under-reporting diminishes the significance of the H5N1 in birds north of the east west line in southern Siberia and northern Kazakhstan (see map).  Outbreaks to the north may reflect migration from northern Siberia to southern Siberia, which would suggest a much wider distribution in the upcoming months.  Northern Siberia birds migrate to North America from the east and the west.  Birds in the west migrate across Greenland into northeast Canada, while those in the east migrate across the Bering Straight into Alaska.  Birds from both areas then migrate south into Canada, the United States, and points south, including South America.

These routes from northern Siberia are in addition to the southern Siberia routes which direct birds to the Caspian and Black Sea areas as well as points to the south in the Middle East and Africa.  Thus, the H5N1 in the wild birds is more significant that H5N1 in sparsely populated domestic poultry farms in Siberia, although most of the media and government reports have focused on southern Siberia and virtually ignored the significant implications of H5N1 in northern Siberia.


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