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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

H5N1 In Europe

According to this article, the turkeys dying and being culled in Turkey were infected with a highly pathogenic form of H5N1 (bird flu). The birds started dying in an area near a wildlife preserve, so this appears to be a continuation of the Qinghai strain, which appears to be carried to new areas by migrating waterfowl. When birds fly north in the spring, this virus will be all over Europe. It is probably already in three or four European countries.

Romania had announced it was sending samples from its dying birds (Danube Delta) to Britain for confirmation, but yesterday the British lab said it had not gotten any samples and sent a delegation to Romania. I suspect that we will get a confirmation from Romania later this week or early next week. See this CurEvents.com thread about swans dying in Romania.

H5N1 human deaths and confirmed cases continue in Indonesia. Current cases are up around 100, and the incidence of clusters (multiple associated cases in the same family) continues.

Finally, this confirmation of H5N1 in Turkey poses an interesting question: Has H5N1 already made it to North America? There is no reason why it could not have. There were many cases in Mongolia and Siberia. Waterfowl migrate from those areas into the Alaskan region and then down into the continental US for the winter. We probably need to expand our own testing programs and institute special procedures for all those working with domestic birds. This strain of H5N1 keeps popping up near bodies of water (river deltas, lakes and ponds). Birds die from numerous causes, and so it would be quite a bit of work to establish a truly comprehensive testing program. But can we afford not to?

For more information about species and current testing see this CurEvents.com thread. .

If you live in the western half of the United States near a body of water frequented by waterfowl, you should be concerned about this. Consider calling your local health department and finding out if they have received any instructions about submitting samples from bird dieoffs for testing. If not, start worrying and agitating.

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