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Media Myth On Wild Bird Link To H5N2 In Fraser Valley
Recombinomics Commentary
December 12, 2014 13:00

Kochhar said it is unlikely to have been spread by wild birds, based upon ongoing surveillance. There has been no increase in wild bird mortality in the affected region, he said.

In 2005, 60,000 birds were killed after a mild version of H5 was found at a Yarrow farm. In 2009, 41 farms were placed in quarantine and 72,000 birds were slaughtered after an H5 version was found on two farms in Abbotsford. That version of the flu was determined to be “of low pathogenicity.”

The above comments (in red) note that there has been no reported increase in wild bird mortality and no recent detection of H5N2 in wild birds.  However, the likely role of wild birds has been cited, in spite of the failure to find increased mortality. In Asia, asymptomatic wild birds infected with high path H5 have been widely reported, which has also been reported in Europe and Africa.  In all three continents, as well as North America, low path H5 is common, leading to cross reacting antibodies which protects against high path.  Thus, the absence of mortality does not rule out wild birds as the source of the high path H5N2 in Fraser Valley.

The confusion over the role of wild birds in the current outbreak is fueled by the CFIA silence on the lineage and sequence of the H5 cleavage site, which is almost certainly the Fujian strain (clade 2.3.4) from wild birds linked back to Asia through overlapping flyways.

Canada has reported three prior outbreaks, all of which were linked to low path H5N2 of North American lineage.  As noted above (in blue), the two outbreaks in Fraser Valley (in 2005 and 2009) were relatively small and easily contained, as was the 2010 outbreak in Manitoba

The OIE reports noted that the H5N2 was the North American lineage, and all three H5s had the same cleave site (RETR).The current outbreak has already affected more farms that the three prior H5 outbreaks combined, and CFIA has cited a very high pathogenicity index and noted that the cleave site was poly-basic, but withheld the sequence because a sequence of RERRRKR or REKRRKR would signal the import of the Fujian strain from Asia and the danger of the circulation of this strain in wild birds.

The withholding of this information creates a serious hazard to hunters and organic farms as well as countries linked to migratory pathways, including the US, which is 2 miles from the two outbreaks in Aldergrove (see map).

The reckless behavior of the CFIA should be cited by WHO, and penalties IHR violations should be enforced.

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