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Wild Bird H5N8 Transmission from Asia to Europe
Recombinomics Commentary
November 20, 2014 20:30

Three OIE reports describe the confirmation of H5N8 in Germany, The Netherlands, and England in November.  Agencies in each country have released sequence data confirming the close relationship between all three sequences with each other, as well as recent outbreaks in South Korea, which are also related to sequences from China.

Germany released H5 and N8 sequences, A/turkey/Germany-MV/R2472/2014, while The Netherlands and England released full or nearly full sequences for all 8 gene segments (A/Ch/Netherlands/14015526 and A/duck/England/36254/14, respectively) confirming the close relationship to the sequences from South Korea.  All three countries are to be commended for the rapid release of sequences from these November collections.

Media reports have described an H5 outbreak in Ter Aar, The Netherlands which is less than 10 miles from the earlier outbreak (see map), strongly suggesting that this will be the four confirmed H5N8 outbreak in Europe in November.

The  virus is highly pathogenic,with a polybasic cleavage site (RERRRKR) matching the Fujian strain (clade 2.3).  Similarly, the H5 receptor binding domain positions 190, 225, 226, 227, 228, and 230 are avian, suggesting transmission to humans or other mammals will be limited (and H5N8 has never been reported in humans).

However, the milder H5N8 may readily transmit from wild birds to poultry and may lead to H5N8 infections in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in areas impacted in 2005/2006 outbreaks by the Qinghai (clade 2.2) strain of H5N1.

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