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Fujian H5N2 & H5N8 in Wild Birds In Washington State
Recombinomics Commentary
December 16, 2014 23:15

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of
highly pathogenic (HPAI) H5 avian influenza in wild birds in Whatcom County, Washington. Two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintail ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds.

 Based upon sequence attempt from a virus isolate, an avian influenza subtype H5 of Eurasian lineage (partial HA 98% similarity to A/bean goose/Korea/H40/2014) and N2 of US wild bird lineage (partial NA 98% similarity to A/American green-winged teal/California/HKWF609/2007); the amino acid sequence at the hemagglutinin cleavage site is consistent with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Preliminary data suggests that these virus strains (H5N2 and H5N8) may be related with the H5N8 strain potentially representing the progenitor.

The above comments (in red) are from a USDA press release describing the detection of Fujian H5N8 and H5N2 wild birds in the United States (in Washington State less than 9 miles by the cluster of cases in British Columbia at the border of Langley and Abbotsford, which are less than 2 miles from the US / Canada border - see map).

The sequence data cited above in the November 16 OIE report (in blue) indicates that the H5N8 is very closely related to the H5N8 currently circulating in Europe (Germany, The Netherlands, England, Italy) and Asia (Japan and South Korea) based on OIE and media reports.

The H5N2 in Canada shares 5 genes with H5N8, including the H5, as well as 3 genes from North American wild birds, including N2.  The first report of Fujian H5 in the Americas was on Fraser Valley earlier this month.  The above reports describe the first detection of H5N8 in the United States.

The presence of H5N8 and H5N2 in wild birds raises concerns that these two high path H5 virus (with an H5 rom H5N1) will spread widely throughout North America in the near term as the wild birds migrate south.

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