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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu in Chelyabinsk Signals Move to Caspian Sea?
September 15, 2005
Tests conducted at a veterinary lab in the Chelyabinsk region confirmed the avian influenza H5N1 virus as the cause of the death of 39 chickens at five poultry farms in the community of Lugovoi this week
The confirmation of H5N1 wild bird flu in Lugivoi, Chelyabinsk may signal the migration of H5N1 from the base of the Urals to the Caspian and Black Sea areas in Europe. This migration was predicted by the finding of H5N1 in long range migratory birds which were initially found at Qingahi Lake in the spring and then spread to Kazakhstan, southern Russia and Mongolia in the summer. As these regions turn cold a new wave of H5N1 infections has been expected. In addition to these new confirmations in Chelyabinsk, new wild bird deaths are being reported at Burnashevo Lake in Buryatii, which is just north of new outbreaks in Mongolia reported last month (see map). This new activity may signal movement into northern China, South Korea, and Japan.
These newly reported infections support the notion of a massive expansion of geographical range by H5N1. Since the spread is via long range migratory birds, the culling efforts on the ground will do little to stop the dramatic spread. Movement into these new areas in the upcoming weeks will create new opportunities fro recombination and rapid evolution. The wild bird flu H5N1 has already moved away from the H5N1 found in Vietnam in 2004 and used for a worldwide pandemic vaccine.
The WBF H5N1 is another vaccine candidate which should be used immediately. Russian and Hungary are launching clinical trials of the pandemic strain reported earlier in the US. This vaccine will not have much effect on the WBF beginning to spread worldwide.