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Quarantined Parrot in England Is H5N1 Positive

Recombinomics Commentary

October 22, 2005

Defra said that the closest match to the disease was found in ducks in China earlier this year.

The parrot, imported from South America, which arrived in the country last month and died last week, was being held in a quarantine facility in Essex.

The type of H5N1 found in the parrot is "not so similar" to the strains isolated from Romania and Turkey.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "It is not a strain that the Veterinary Laboratory Agency has seen before."

The above comments indicate that the H5N1 in the quarantined parrot is not H5N1 wild bird flu.  The similarity to ducks in China sounds like the H5N1 recently found in Taiwan.  That H5N1 was missing a lysine (K) in the receptor binding domain, which is characteristic of duck isolates from northern China (although such changes have also been seen in additional provinces in China, including Guangdong Province).

Since there were birds from Taiwan in the same quarantine area, the possibility that the Taiwan birds were also infected with H5N1 is a distinct possibility.

This would suggest that many birds destined for Taiwan are H5N1 positive, not just those that were intercepted this year as well as in December of 2003.

This raises the possibility that H5N1 is more widespread in Taiwan than has been described thus far.

More data on imported pet birds into Taiwan and other countries would be useful.

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