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H5N1 strain in Hungary is 99.4 percent same as last year

The H5N1 avian influenza strain isolated from the outbreak notified by Hungary is 99.4 percent similar to the strain that infected some countries of Europe last year, the OIE's Reference Laboratory for avian influenza in Weybridge (UK) confirmed yesterday.

“This information tells us that the genetic characteristics of the virus isolated in Hungary has still not mutated significantly ” Dr Bernard Vallat, OIE Director General, explained.

Avian and human influenza viruses are known to be able to mutate or exchange genetic material to form new strains. In certain conditions, these can be more deadly to both animals and humans.

Since the start of the H5N1 crisis in late 2003, the OIE calls for increased global monitoring and control measures of the virus at animal source. Transparent sequencing and sharing and of virus samples is also key to tracking the least genetic evolution of the virus and trigger appropriate global rapid response mechanisms.