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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Confirmed in Turkey

Recombinomics Commentary

October 11, 2005

Experts have confirmed the cases of bird flu in Turkey are from the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, which has killed millions of birds and 65 people in Asia since 2003.

The news was broken by the Bulgarian anti-epidemic unit at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

Although confirmation of H5N1 wild bird flu in Turkey is not a surprise, it is the first confirmed report of H5N1 in Europe.  This announcement extends the H5N1 reach, and provides more evidence on the inevitability of the H5N1 pandemic.

Romania has also reported bird deaths associated with bird flu antibodies.  Although they have had problems isolating the H5N1 virus, the deaths of whooper swans over an extended time period alone, strongly suggests H5N1 is in Romania.  Most of the initial confirmed H5N1 deaths in Mongolia were also whooper swans.  Moreover, Romania has reported several outbreaks of infections in domestic waterfowl, including geese and ducks, which has been characteristic of the H5N1 wild bird flu.

H5N1 has been transport and transmitted by long range migratory birds and both reported outbreaks in Europe have been near migratory bird flight paths.

However, the path between the confirmed cases of H5N1 in Siberia and H5N1 in Turkey is not filled with reports of dead birds.  Only Romania and Bulgaria have reported deaths in wild birds.  The other countries adjacent to the Black Sea and Caspian Sea almost certainly have H5N1, since whooper swans have been dying in Romania for several weeks, but the lack of reports from these countries indentifies major deficiencies in surveillance and reporting.

H5N1 in animals is a reportable disease and the lack of monitoring and reporting in Europe is shameful.  These countries are well aware of the migratory birds flight paths, yet have failed to identify and report fatal H5N1 infections


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