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H5N1 in New York

Recombinomics Commentary

November 6, 2006

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the presence of LPAI H5N1 from 2 of 27 mallard ducks collected from the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area in Niagara County on Oct. 21

To date, New York has collected more than 845 wild bird samples for testing. No other LPAI detections have been found.

The above comments describe detection of H5N1 in mallards in Niagara County in New York.  Since the announcement by the USDA on the halt of press releases on initial detections of H5N1, the number if locations reporting H5N1 has increased significantly.  H5N1 in mallards have recently be reported for three locations in Grundy county, Illinois and St Clair Michigan.  H5N1 has also been reported in Green winged teal Tuscola County, Michigan.

The recent frequent and widespread detection of H5N1 is cause for concern.  The USDA table only includes samples that have tested positive for both H5 and N1.  Media reports describe additional samples that are H5 positive.  Although all H5 report thus far has been positive for low path North American H5, these isolates can add to the genetic diversity of HPAI H5N1 via homologous recombination.  Moreover the H5N1 low path can mask low levels of Qinghai H5N1, which is frequently found in dead wild birds, but is rarely =detected in live wild birds.

The H5 detected in a dead goose on Prince Edward Island raises sif
gnificant concern about the Qinghai strain in North America, and the frequent detection of low path H5N1 increases the likelihood of recombination. 

These sequences of these low path H5 isolates should be released.

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