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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Spread in Romania

Recombinomics Commentary

October 15, 2005

Romanian authorities quarantined Ceamurlia de Jos, which is home to 1,200 people, earlier this week. Maliuc and Vulturul, another two villages in the Danube's delta area were quarantined yesterday, when poultry died there after contracting the virus from wild birds.

The above comments indicate H5N1 wild bird flu is spreading in Romania.  This is not a surprise.  Whooper swans have been dying in Romania for weeks, and the migration of birds into the area was predicted over the summer.

However, an OIE report from Russia indicates H5N1 was closer to Romania than had been previously reported.  Earlier reports of dead birds in the Kalmaykiya region adjacent to the Caspian Sea had been denied earlier.  However, the just released report indicated H5 had been detected in wild birds in the area.

These reports raise serious issues regarding detection and reporting.  Russia deny reports that H5 was near the Caspian Sea in August.  The presence of H5N1 in Kalmaykiya in August indicated that it was in other areas at that time, but there have been not OIE filings, even though H5 is a reportable disease.

Similarly, the confirmation of H5N1 in Romania and Turkey indicate neighboring countries also have H5N1.  Although there have been several reports of dying wild birds and/or poultry in the region, no country has announced the arrival of H5N1, even though countries have said they are heightened alert.

Failures to detect H5N1 in recent tests are also cause for concern.  It seems likely that many of the reported bird deaths are from H5N1, yet the testing procedures produce false negatives.

Clearly surveillance and report in Europe is in need of improvement.

Reports of increases in the efficiency of human-to-human transmission, coupled with reports of Tamiflu resistance and failure to prevent such human-to-human transmissions should provide incentives for countries in Europe to improve their surveillance and reporting.


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