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Fujian H5N2 Confusion In Canada
Recombinomics Commentary
December 15, 2014 23:15

Outbreak of HPAI H5N2 continues in Fraser Valley, British Columbia province, Canada. Though the virus type or subtype for this recent outbreak has not been mentioned in the news report above, it is likely that HPAI H5N2 virus is the cause. The good news is that so far the outbreaks have not spread beyond Fraser Valley. While declaration of a control zone with restrictions on poultry movement has been instigated, it is still important to explore how the virus is circulating within the poultry in different farms in the affected area. 2 of the farm outbreaks had occurred after they received chickens from a previously infected facility. The incubation period of avian influenza in poultry is generally 3-5 days, but may be longer; the maximum incubation period is 21 days. - Mod.SN
Fujian H5 has been confirmed in British Columbia (Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver NE - see map), yet as seen in the ProMED commentary above from a December 14 report entitled “AVIAN INFLUENZA (22): CANADA (BRITISH COLUMBIA), H5N2 SUSPECTED, POULTRY” the reports on the outbreak fail to note that the H5N2 is a novel reassortant with a Fujian H5, as well as four additional gene sequences from H5N8 combined with three gene segments from a North American strain, including N2.

This combination has never been reported previously and this is the first confirmed report of Fujian H5 in the Americas.  However, the media reports and commentaries such as the one above, have failed to convey the significance, which is largely linked to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s failure to have a press conference and to announce the result via a December 12 OIE report.

Delays and confusion has dominated in agency reports and remarks.  The December 3 OIE report noted that the isolate was H5 and was high path based on the mortality rate on the first two farms.  However, the two farms were not epidemiologically linked and were five miles apart (turkey farm in Abbotsford and chicken farm in Chilliwack).  Moreover, both farms were confirmed on the same day suggesting that the infections were from independent introductions, signaling a wild bird source.
Although the 3rd and 4th farms were linked to the chicken farm, the fifth farm was not linked to any of the above and was located in Aldersgrove, 13 miles from the nearest confirmed farm, signaling another independent introductions.

The December 9 OIE report confirmed that the virus was H5N2 and had a polybasic cleavage site.  However, the sequences of the cleavage site and the lineage were withheld, since the report also noted that virus was isolated and sequenced on December 4.

The December 12 OIE report confirmed that the H5 was the Fujian clade 2.3.4 and matched H5N8 in Europe and Japan in four additional gene segments, but the other three, including N2 were from North American wild birds, confirming a wild bird source and a novel Fujian reassortant.  The report also increased the number of confirmed sites to 9 and that 9th site was described in the ProMED commentary, which said nothing about the reassortment, Asian origin for 5 of 8 gene segment, or transport by wild birds.

The wild bird source puts farms throughout southern Canada at risk, as well as additional countries to the south, including the US, which is 2 miles from the Aldersgrove outbreaks.

Moreover, the spread to Metro Vancouver signals a failure to control and increases the likelihood of additional cases in Canada and the US, which are not dependent on farm to farm spread.

Clearly a press release os long overdue, and release of sequencs for all 8 gene segments would be useful.

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