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Romania Imposes H5N1 Wild Bird Quarantine
October 7, 2005
Romanian officials quarantined a Danube delta village of about 30 people Friday after three dead ducks there tested positive for bird flu -- the first such cases reported in the region.
Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Flutur said the virus found in the farm-raised ducks came from migrating birds from Russia.
And while it is difficult for the virus to spread from birds to humans, authorities were taking no chances. They sealed off the village of Ciamurlia and banned hunting and fishing in eight counties in the region.
The above comments strongly suggest that the ducks died from H5N1 wild bird flu. The ducks dying from bird flu in Siberia are testing positive for HPAI H5N1 and sequences have shown the virus to be very closely related to H5N1 from Qinghai Lake in China or Chany Lake in Russia.
This would be the first reported cases of H5N1 in Europe. Although H5N1 was first discovered in a chicken in Scotland in 1959, the H5N1 isolates in Europe in the past have lacked the multi-basic amino acids at the HA cleavage site. However, the cleavage site of the H5N1 from wild birds in Siberia, as well as those from Qinghai Lake in China had the sequence commonly found in H5N1 from Asia in infected birds, cats, pigs, and humans.
The quarantine of people and restrictions on hunting strongly suggests that preliminary tests show that the bird flu is H5N1. This finding raises questions about the lack of reporting of similar cases in Europe, especially in regions near the Caspian and Black Seas. These areas support migratory birds from Siberia and H5N1 was been frequently detected in southern Siberia and Northern Kazakhstan. Now that these birds are migrating to the southwest, moiré European countries should be reporting dead migratory birds. The H5N1 in the wild birds is quite virulent and has left a trail of dead birds on migratory paths.
Extension of the H5N1 geographical range to Europe strongly suggests that H5N1 will be distributed worldwide in the next 12 months. The infected birds can travel long distances and migratory paths cross, so transfer of H5N1 between species leads to rapid spread via a large number of intersecting flyways.
As H5N1 increases its geographical range, the opportunity for more recombination increases. Similar outbreaks may be occurring in the Philippines and Indonesia, which provides additional support for a global spread of H5N1.
The rapid spread demands close surveillance in humans, birds, and other animals. Moreover, more samples need to be collected, sequenced, and shared.
H5N1 is clearly marshalling forces for a major assault and more resources need to be brought to bear of the widening and extremely dangerous situation. The meeting of 80 nations this week in Washington is a good start, but a major commitment of resources is required. H5N1 has the upper hand and its spread is accelerating and efforts to blunt the spread are long overdue.