H5N1 strain from Alberta nurse resembles Chinese strain

Early findings from sequencing of the H5N1 virus that recently caused the death of a Canadian woman suggest that it is similar to strains previously seen in China, according to a CBC News story yesterday.

A spokesman for Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg told CBC that the sequence data collected so far suggest that the virus is “consistent with a previously circulating H5N1 strain from China.”

The lab plans to sequence the virus’s full genome and analyze the data to learn more about the strain’s characteristics, the spokesperson said. When the sequencing is complete, the data will be shared with researchers around the world via the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database, the story said.

The lab also plans to share the isolate with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the report.

The Canadian victim, a young nurse from Red Deer, Alta., died on Jan 3, 8 days after returning from a 3-week trip to Beijing. Her case was the first human H5N1 infection reported in the Americas. It’s not clear how she was exposed to the virus, since she had no contact with poultry in Beijing.



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