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Avian flu

H5N1 virus outbreak in migratory waterfowl

A worrying development could help to spread this dangerous virus beyond its stronghold in southeast Asia.


The highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus has become endemic in poultry in southeast Asia since 2003 and constitutes a major pandemic threat to humans1. Here we describe cases of disease caused by H5N1 and transmission of the virus among migratory geese populations in western China. This outbreak may help to spread the virus over and beyond the Himalayas and has important implications for developing control strategies.

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Figure 1: H5N1 flu strains in wild birds in western China.

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Correspondence to Y. Guan.

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Chen, H., Smith, G., Zhang, S. et al. H5N1 virus outbreak in migratory waterfowl. Nature 436, 191–192 (2005).

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