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H5N1 Migrating From Israel to Malawi?

Recombinomics Commentary
December 19, 2005

Malawi has not reported any cases of avian flu, but Lipita said it was "unusual for birds to die in their thousands in a short time."

He said the birds called the Common Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis) -- locally called the "Namzemze" -- started dropping dead early this week at a hill in Ntchisi district, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the administrative capital Lilongwe.

Locals started collecting to eat the birds, which were believed to have migrated from Israel after one of them had a ring enscribed with the word "Israel" on it.

The above comments raise the possibility that H5N1 wild bird flu has migrated from the Middle East to Malawi.  Dead birds falling from the sky have been reported in Thailand and the Ukraine prior to confirmation of H5N1 outbreaks, so the sudden death of long range migratory birds from the Middle East is cause for concern.

Although no country in the Middle East has filed an OIE report confirming H5N1, media reports indicated H5N1 was found in a bird that washed up on the shores of Kuwait.  Other media reports indicated H5N1 has been confirmed on farms in Libya and Israel has reported H5 antibodies in a worker who had contact with migratory birds.

H5N1 has been confirmed in the Danube and Volga Deltas, which host large numbers of migratory birds at this time of the year.  Many of these birds pass through the Middle East to Africa, so association of H5N1 with the bird deaths in Malawi would not be surprising.


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