H5N1 In Germany
Since Autumn?
Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD
"Germany probably had avian flu for some months before tests earlier this week confirmed that dead birds had carried the virus
Till Backhaus, from the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern where the birds were found, said the affected mute swans were not migratory and tended to stick to one area.
"This is why I assume ... that the virus must have been introduced in autumn
German authorities said on Wednesday that two swans and a hawk found on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen were infected with H5N1
Local officials said on Wednesday some 100 dead swans had been spotted in the affected area."
The above comments confirm commentaries that indicated H5N1 was widespread in western Europe in the fall.  In August, Russia had reported evidence for H5N1 migrating south into southern Siberia, indicating that H5N1 had been in both northern and southern Siberia over the summer of 2005.  Reports from Russia also indicated that over two dozens species were H5N1 positive and these data only represented areas that had been tested.  Additional H5N1 in untested areas, like northern Siberia, were acknowledged in the OIE Mission Report.
In the fall there were many reports of significant bird deaths, including Germany (see August map) and media reports indicated bird flu had been detect in Germany.  Later reports indicated rat poison had been detected in the birds and no OIE report was filed.  These denials of H5N1 were common in western Europe in the fall of 2005.
The recent detection of H5 or H5N1 in 6 EU countries (Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Hungary) and additional swan deaths under investigation in central and western Europe suggest that H5N1 has been throughout western Europe since the fall.
This migration would likely be via the East Atlantic Flyway, suggesting H5N1 may also be in North America.  However, new migrations north from Nigeria should carry additional H5N1 to western Europe and North America.  Initial isolates from Nigerian poultry show strong homology with isolates from Qinghai Lake, Romania, and Turkey.  However, isolates for H5N1 along the East Atlantic Flyway in Africa have not been reported, and additional recombinations may have happened.
The movement of H5N1 infected migratory birds back into western Europe is cause for concern.  H5N1 from Qinghai Lake had sequences from European swine.  H5N1 migration into the area could produce additional acquisitions, which are causes for concern.
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