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Bird Flu Fatal Cluster and Spread In Libya Raise Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary
December 28, 2014 23:30

Four people have died of bird flu in Libya in recent days, the health minister of the country's internationally recognised government said on Saturday.

Rida al-Awkali said a fifth person suspected of having contracted the virus is currently in hospital in the far eastern city of Tobruk.

Three of the victims died in the capital Tripoli, while the fourth died in Tobruk, he added, without saying which strain of the disease they caught.

The above comments describe a bird flu outbreak in Libya.  Some media reports have indicated it is H5N1, but all are silent on detail on the victims, with regard to exposure to poultry or each other.  H5N1 had been reported in Tobruk in the spring, and Egypt has reported a sharp spike in cases, which have been in upper Egypt.

Media reports from Egypt have cited concerns over human transmission when H5N1 was confirmed in students and teachers.

The most recent H5N1 human or poultry sequences are from March.  Those sequences were similar to prior human sequences, which have S133del as well as T160A, which abolishes the glycosylation site at position 158.  The sequences have a proile similar to seasonal H1N1, which became dominant. The Qinghai strain (clade 2.2) also has another mammalian adaptation, PB2 E627K.  One 2010 poultry isolate,
A/duck/Egypt/10185SS/2010, had N224K, which was used in the Kawaoka gain of function study.

Thus, increased human to human transmission has been a concern, which has increased due to the spike in cases in upper Egypt and media reports of H5N1 clusters in Tripoli and Tobruk.

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