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Sparrow Deaths in Turkey Increase H5N1 Survellance Concerns

Recombinomics Commentary
December 20,  2006

5 sparrows suddenly dropped dead from a tree, they were rushed to the municipality veterinary clinic for examination with suspect of "Bird Flu".

This happened in the city of Bingöl ..

About 250 km west of Van ....

The above translation of a Turkish language media report add to the concerns generated by the poultry deaths in Tokat earlier this month.  Bingol is about half way between Tokat and Van, the site of the first human H5N1 fatalities reported for the Qinghai strain of H5N1.  The December deaths this year in Turkey closely parallel events in Turkey last year at this time.

Turkey reported H5N1 poultry deaths in October, 2005 in western Turkey.  Linkage to poultry deaths in eastern Turkey were denied.  However, after patients in eastern Turkey were rushed to Van at the end of 2005 and died in early 2006, Turkey acknowledged that H5N1 had been detected throughout Turkey in December, 2005.  Similarly, Egypt did not report H5N1 infections until February, 2006, but recently released sequences for a teal isolated in Egypt in December, 2005 showed that it was the Qinghai strain and was closely related to the sequence isolated from a turkey in Turkey in October, 2005, indicating that H5N1 had migrated through eastern Turkey in the fall of 2005.

The recent reports of dead poultry in Tokat and dead sparrows in Bingol suggest H5N1 is again causing avian deaths in Turkey.  Such deaths would not be unexpected because H5N1 has been reported in the Ukraine, Egypt, and Sudan this season, and is likely to be widespread in the area.

The failure of countries in the area to detect and report H5N1 this season remains an area of increasing concern.

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