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article imageCharting bird flu through the North America

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2015 in Health
The pathogenic avian influenza H5 viruses are still moving, and perhaps evolving, through North American wild birds. How widespread the rate of infection in chickens will become is the subject of new research.
Digital Journal recently reported that bird flu is on the rise across North America. Farmers have detected H5N8 in a commercial turkey flock in California, while Canadian officials document the first known human importation of H7N9 to the country.
Looking at a different virus as a means of tracking types of bird flu, scientists have begun to study the HPAI H5 avian influenza viruses of Eurasian origin. These viruses continue to occur with regularity across the U.S. and Canada. To explore what is happening, the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Department of Agriculture have undertaken genetic analysis of a strain of the HPAI H5N1 avian flu virus. The specific virus was discovered in a green-winged teal in Washington State during 2014. The virus is a mixed-origin virus that contains genes from the Eurasian HPAI H5N8 and genes from North American low pathogenic avian influenza from wild birds.
In March 2015, the HPAI H5N2 virus was detected in commercial turkey flocks in Minnesota, Missouri and Arkansas, in a backyard flock of mixed poultry in Kansas and in a wild bird in Wyoming. Given that the virus is spreading rapidly and it is somewhat distinctive, this makes it a strong candidate for using new tracking methods. The virus has also been detected in backyard flock in British Columbia, Canada.
The tracking methods are based on taking samples and sending them to a network of laboratories for analysis. The main risk, from this strain, is to birds. No human infections with this H5N1 virus have been detected. However, it is possible, as with all avian flu viruses, the human infections could occur.
At present the potential spread of the virus is unknown. However, the research methodology is likely to help scientists track the spread and to recommend to authorities where containment is required.
The findings have been published in the journal Genome Announcements. The research is titled “Novel H5 Clade 2.3.4.4 Reassortant (H5N1) Virus from a Green-Winged Teal in Washington, USA.”
In similar news, scientists have developed an antibody shown to be completely protective against the H5N1 bird flu virus. The success has been demonstrated in two species of animal models.
More about Bird flu, Avian flu, Influenza
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