H7 Found In Lebanon -
Recombination With
H5 Possible

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello, Jeff - If you remember, Dr. Niman discussed the dangerous issue of H7/H5 recombination in August, 2005 regarding Finland.
Dual infections can also lead to recombination, where portions of genes are swapped.
H7 is dangerous to humans because it can be easily transmitted human-to-human, which is a property that is lacking in H5N1.
However, a dual infection involving H5N1 and H7N7 could lead to recombination where H5N1 acquires the human receptor binding domain from H7. The H5N1 at Qinghai Lake, China has already acquired mammalian polymorphisms from European swine, providing further evidence for dual infections and recombination. Thus, having H5N1 in a region that has had recent problems with H7N7 is a definite cause for concern.
The earlier migration of H5N1 from northern Siberia to Finland would suggest that similar migrations between northern Siberia and Alaska are possible and/or likely. H5N1 in Alaska would lead to H5N1 in British Columbia, which had an H7N3 outbreak in 2004. That outbreak also led to infections in poultry workers and underscores the potentially dangerous situation involving co-circulation of H5 and H7 in Lebanon.
These combinations provide more opportunities for the generation of efficiently-transmitted H5N1, which could touch off the worldwide human pandemic we have been warning about all this time.
Here is the story of H7 apparently found in Lebanon -
H7 Found In Lebanon
From ProMED-mail
Source:, accessed 1 Apr 2006
The above website included, in its page "Infectious diseases", the following news item from an unspecified source:
LEBANON -- Avian Influenza Detected In South Lebanon
The laboratory of the American University of Beirut has detected the virus H7 on several samples of domestic poultry from the South of Lebanon.
The Ministry of Agriculture has agreed for sending samples from the affected poultry to the Weybridge Laboratory in UK or IZS-Venezie laboratory in Italy for further testing.
If confirmed, this becomes a significant finding and a cause for concern. All HPAI strains isolated to date have been either of the H5 or H7 subtype, therefore classified by the OIE as notifiable avian influenza (NAI).
The major outbreak in the Netherlands, 2003, was caused by H7N7. Since H5 and H7 strains might be also of low virulence, it is essential that, as well as their identification, their pathogenicity is determined as early as possible.
Confirmation of the above data or otherwise is anticipated; any available information on the issue would be greatly appreciated.- Mod.AS
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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