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Three H5N8 Introductions In Europe and Netherlands = Wild Birds
Recombinomics Commentary
December 2, 2014 07:15

Of a group of 150 wigeon 52 dung samples collected of which two dung samples the virus was found. The wigeon were in a pasture between Kockengen and Kamerik in the municipality Woerden, Utrecht province. The part of the bird flu virus wigeon that has been explored is genetically almost identical to the virus that has previously been found in a poultry farm in Hekendorp

On the basis of all available information is the most probably that there are three separate releases of the avian flu virus have taken place in the areas Hekendorp, Ter Aar and K. This is shown including analysis of the Central Veterinary Institute (CVI), part Van Wageningen-UR, the extent to which the viruses found on the infected companies genetically similar to each other. Information about the virus in Zoeterwoude is expected at the end of this week.
The above translations from an Erasmus Medical Center (EMC) press release (in red) or a letter by Sharon A.M. Dijksma, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, to the President-In-Office at The Hague (in blue) provide compelling evidence for the transport of H5N8 from Asia to Europe by wild birds.

The first translation provides information about two sets of sequences from feces from two wigeons deposited between Kockengen and Kamerick (see map).  These two sequences are virtually identical to two published sequences, A/chicken/Netherlands/14015526/2014 and A/chicken/Netherlands/14015531/2014, collected on November 14 and 15 from symptomatic layer hens at the farm in Hekendrop.  The identities between the two wild bird sequences and the two hen sequences strongly implicate wild birds as the source of the poultry infections.
This interpretation is further supported by differences in these sets of sequences, and those found at farms in Ter Aar and Kamperveen, which signals three independent introductions in The Netherlands.

Similarly, the additional public sequences from poultry outbreaks in Germany (A/turkey/Germany-MV/R2472/2014) and England (A/duck/England/36254/14) also support three independent introductions in Europe.  This interpretation is based on the close similarities between multiple collections from a given location which are clearly distinct from sequences from other locations.

In addition to four complete or nearly complete sequences for all 8 gene segments from European isolates, two sets of sequences from wild duck droppings in Chiba Japan (A/duck/Chiba/26-372-48/2014 and A/duck/Chiba/26-372-61/2014) also show the same characteristics.  The two sets of sequences from Japan differ from each other by a single nucleotide (in PA).  These sequences from wild birds in Japan are those that are most closely related to the European H5N8 sequences.

Analysis of the two published sequences from the Hekendrop farm reveals identity in three gene segments (MP, PB1, and NS).  There are two differences in PA, while each of the four other genes segments (H5, N8, PB2, NP) have one difference.  Thus, the two sets of sequences have six differences out of 13,137 positions, or an identity of 99.95%. 

In contrast, the number of differences between A/chicken/Netherlands/14015531/2014 and each set o sequences from Germany or England is 29, while the number of differences between Germany and England is 35, signaling an independent introduction in each country.

The sequences from the wild bird (Teal) in Germany, or the other two early outbreaks in The Netherlands have not been made public, so there may be additional matches, but the public sequences reveal independent introductions in Germany, The Netherlands, and England, while the comments above support three independent introductions in The Netherlands, providing compelling data for export of H5N8 from Asia to Europe via wild bird migration.

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