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Novel Fujian H5N2 Reassortant In Fraser Valley Canada
Recombinomics Commentary
December 14, 2014 11:30

The confirmation of a novel Fujian reassortant, the H5N2 in Fraser Valley, British Columbia has raised serious concern.  The confirmation was announced in a December 12 OIE report which the media has largely ignored, in part because of the absence of a news conference or press release.

The OIE reported noted that the reassortant has 5 gene segments, including H5 from H5N8, a Fujian clade 2.3.4 reassortant with three H5N1 gene segments (H5, PA, MP).  The novel H5N2 in Canada also has 3 segments with a North American lineage, including N2.  The OIE report did not specify the identity of the other two North American segments.

The presence of high path in wild birds was suggested by the nearly simultaneous outbreaks of high path in two farms that were five miles apart and unlinked (a breeder chicken farm in Chilliwak and a turkey meat farm in Abbotsford.  The circulation of H5N8 in Europe (Germany, Netherlands, and England) including wild birds (including 1 teal and 2 wigeons) as well as Japan with wild bird confirmations in 4 prefectures raised the possibility of H5N8 in Fraser Valley, and the reassortment with a North American wild bird N2 (likely H5N2) created significant uncertainty about spread, although the IVPI score of 2.96-2.98 signals the lethality of the reassortant in experimental chickens.

The presence of Fujian H5 in North America has never been reported previously, which raises concerns of spread in wild birds which is independent of success in containing the H5N2 on farms of Fraser Valley.  Thus, nearby farms in King County, including small holdings in Seattle are a serious concerns in the near term, as well as poultry throughout the Americas in the long term.

Release of sequences from all 8 gene segments of H5N2 isolates from different regions of Fraser Valley and an enhanced wild bird surveillance would be useful.

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