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Fifth 2014 H5N2 Farm Was 2009 Fraser Valley Index
Recombinomics Commentary
December 9, 2014 23:45

Initial tests show the virus is an H5 strain, which is an indication it could become highly pathogenic, similar to the H5N1 virus that has killed more than 250 people worldwide. But Stephens said there has been no evidence to suggest it is an unusually dangerous form of the virus.

“It’s possible that we could have an H5N1, but it would appear, just by the way this virus is acting, that it’s not a highly pathogenic form, so it wouldn’t be the Asian strain,” she said. There are 16 different H-types of the virus, but it is the H5 and the H7 types that can quickly change from a low pathogenic form to a highly pathogenic form, Stephens said.

The above comments on the 2009 H5N2 outbreak in Fraser Valley note that the presentation of the birds suggests it was low path.  H5N2 low path was confirmed, but the 60,000 turkeys at the farm could change to high path, which is what happened in 2004 for the H7N3, which changed from low to high path, and 17 million birds were culled.

Because of the change in 2004 in Fraser Valley, as well as other examples elsewhere, all H5 and H7 outbreaks are reportable, and all birds are culled regardless of pathogenicity or clinical presentation.  In 2009 the spread of low path H5N2 was limited, but all 60,000 turkeys in the above farm were culled.

This year, the same farm was infected again, but the H5N2 was high path, which raised serious concerns, since high path H5 has never been reported in wild or domestic birds in Canada prior to this outbreak.

In 2009 high path H5 was circulating in wild birds in Asia as H5N1 Qinghai (clade 2.2) or Fujian (clade 2.3).  The H5N1 Fujian strain was clade 2.3.2, which was distinct from the clade 2.3.4 which was widely present in poultry and had also cause human cases and deaths in 2006.

However, clade 2.3.4 has expanded significantly recently and has been detected as H5N1, H5N2, H5N3, H5N5, H5N6, and H5N8.  The H5N8 version has recently been reported in wild birds in Japan as well as two countries in Europe (Germany and Netherlands), including asymptomatic wild birds on both continents.  H5N8 was recently reported in poultry in three countries in Europe (Germany, Netherlands, and England).

However, Fujian clade 2.3.4 has also been reported in wild birds and poultry in China in 2014 (see map), raising concerns that the H5N2 in Fraser Valley is the Fujian strain. 

In the low path H5N2 outbreaks in Fraser Valley in 2009 or Manitoba in 2010, the CIFA filed OIE reports noting that sequencing was done and the cleavage site was low path, and the lineage for both outbreaks was North American.

However, in 2014 the CFIA withheld the sequence of the cleavage site and the lineage of the H5N2, raising concerns that it is Fujian H5 clade 2.3.4 (which can be determined within seconds once the sequence is known).

CFIA undoubtedly knows the lineage of the 2014 outbreak in Fraser Valley and should release that information immediately. 

The withholding of the lineage information is hazardous to the world’s health and in violation of the United Nation's IHR.

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