Denmark forms a geographical bottleneck along the migration route of many water birds breeding from northeastern Canada to north Siberia that gather to winter in Europe and Africa. Potentially, the concentration of such large numbers of water birds enhances the risk of avian influenza virus (AIV) introduction to domestic poultry. In 2003, Denmark initiated a nationwide survey of AIV in wild birds and mallards reared for shooting. Partial sequence analysis of the six internal genes from a total of 12 low pathogenic (LP) AIV isolates obtained in 2003 showed that genes from these viruses were closely related with genes from AIV circulating in northern Europe. For the Danish sequences only the PB2 and NS genes differ, so they cluster to more than one cluster in the phylogenetic trees. In spring 2006, highly pathogenic (HP) AIV H5N1 was detected in 44 cases of wild birds in Denmark. Sequence analysis of the HP H5N1 virus genome showed that it was not related to the LPAIV isolated previously, but closely related to the HPAIV H5 (Asian type) detected in the rest of Europe at that time. Even though only partial sequences were applied, this gave the idea for future full-length sequence studies.
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Vol. 54 • No. s1