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H5N2 H5N3 and H5N9 Detected in Quebec and British Columbia

Recombinomics Commentary

November 19, 2005

Molecular testing of samples collected from the three provinces ruled out the Asian strain of avian influenza and confirmed that the viruses are low pathogenic. Further analysis definitively identified the presence of low-pathogenic North American subtypes H5N3 in Quebec birds, H5N1 in Manitoba, and H5N9 and H5N2 in British Columbia.

The above comments provide additional information on H5 isolates in the three provinces previously reporting H5 infections in wild birds.  Swabs were collected in August as part of a banding study.  Analysis of the H5N1 Manitoba isolates indicated that they were similar to LPAI previously isolated in North America.  However, the reported frequency was significantly higher than prior detection of H5 as determined by H5 outbreaks or deposits at GenBank.

Thus, all of the isolates reported above appear to be distinct from the HPAI H5N1 initially found in Asia and now found in long range migratory birds that are spreading the H5N1 into Europe and new areas in China.  Additional spread into other areas such as the Middle East and Africa is expected.

Most of the reported spread out of Siberia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan has happened in the past month, well after the August collections of the isolates described above.  The widespread detection of H5 in various provinces in Canada suggests additional testing is warranted, since new H5N1 outbreaks are being reported in China almost daily.  These outbreaks include Liaoning province, which is adjacent to Korea and Japan and could signal movement of H5N1 into Alaska and subsequent transmission to the south into Canada and the United States.


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