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Egypt Issues H5N1 Alert

Recombinomics Commentary
December 12, 2007

The higher bird flu committee declared Tuesday 11/12/2007 a state of emergency in anticipation of the break through of bird flu once more.

The above comments at the official avian influenza notification site in Egypt suggest new H5N1 cases have been detected.  The recent OIE report gave map coordinates for 922 outbreaks, which are listed here here here here and most recent cases here.  The most recent case reported was in roof top ducks in Gaza city on November 24, 2007.  The report also details the number of birds vaccinated in each governorate.

However, recent outbreaks have been reported in vaccinated birds in Rostov, raising concerns that the new strain of H5N1 in circulation is resistant to the vaccine(s).  H5N1 has been rapidly evolving, and the H5N1 detected in Egypt earlier this year had significant heterogeneity.  Moreover, the H5N1in Egypt in 2007 was most closely related to H5N1 circulating in Egypt in 2006.

However, the recent outbreaks in Europe and the Middle East involved H5N1 most closely related to a wild bird outbreak at Uva Lake in Mongolia in 2006.  This strain is easily distinguished from other Qinghai strains circulating in the region in 2006 / 2007, and therefore may have limit cross-reactivity to the vaccines used to immunize poultry in Egypt.

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