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Spread of Uvs Lake H5N1 to Togo
Recombinomics Commentary 14:27
September 10, 2008

An outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in the West African nation of Togo for the first time since last year, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. The virus was detected at a poultry farm housing more than 4,500 birds in the village of Agbata outside the capital, Lome, said a ministry statement read over state television. It was not known how many birds died, but more than 80 per cent of those infected by the flu were fatalities, the ministry said.

The above comments describe a likely H5N1 outbreak in Togo (see satellite map).  The spread of H5N1 from Nigeria to Benin to Togo is not unexpected.  This scenario is similar to the outbreak of the Uvs Lake strain of H5N1 in Europe a year earlier.  Like western Africa, there had been little H5N1 earlier in the year, which was followed by a summer outbreak of H5N1.  These types of outbreaks signal endemic H5N1 that is missed by surveillance systems.

This summer Nigeria reported H5N1 at multiple locations in the north.  The Uvs Lake strain of H5N1 had not been reported in Africa previously.  The clade 2.2.3 strain arose from a wild bird outbreak at Uvs Lake in Mongolia in the summer of 2006.  It migrated to the east and was involved in outbreaks in South Korea and Japan in late 2006.  The migration to the west led to outbreaks in Kuwait in early 2007.

In the summer of 2007, H5N1 was reported in the Czech Republic, Germany, and France.  In the fall, the Uvs Lake strain became dominant in Europe.  In 2008, the same sequence of events is happening in west Africa, with H5N1 outbreaks in Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.

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