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More H5N1 Wild Bird Flu Deaths in Volga Delta Cause Concern

Recombinomics Commentary
November 25, 2005

Eleven dead swans, possibly the victims of bird flu, were discovered outside Astrakhan on the Volga River in southern Russia in the past 24 hours, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday.

"For the moment, 221 wild bird bodies have been burnt in the Volga delta," the ministry's local department said.

The source said 200 dead swans had been found and diagnosed with bird flu in the Volga delta on October 17-21.

The above comments describe the continuing fatal infections of swans near the Volga Delta.  Earlier reports of H5 infections had been reported for the area, including the OIE Mission Report on H5 in Russia.  The latest OIE report from Romania also describes 137 swan deaths in and around the Danube Delta.  Media reports indicate that swans have been dying there since August.

The presence of H5N1 on the shores of the Caspian and Black Seas since August suggest H5N1 infections in Europe and the Middle East are more widespread than reported.  At this time of the year many of the birds in these areas migrate into Africa, passing over the Middle East.

The recent human suspect case in Israel raises concerns of additional human cases linked to these migrations, which involve up to 500 million birds.  The potential for the general of HA S227N via recombination between H5N1 in the wild birds and H9N2 in domestic flocks in the Middle East is cause for additional concern.


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